David Nakamura, THE WASHINGTON POST
BOSTON (The Washington Post) — President Obama rallied union workers here Monday, announcing a new executive order that will require federal contractors to offer employees up to seven paid sick days a year, a move that the White House said could benefit more than 300,000 workers.
Obama made the announcement during a Labor Day speech as he continues a year-long effort to pressure Congress to approve legislation that would provide similar benefits for millions of private-sector workers. The president highlighted a Massachusetts law, approved by voters in November, that provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per year. That law went into effect in July.
“Right now you have parents who have to chose between losing income or staying home with a sick child,” Obama told a crowd of 765 supporters, including many labor union officials, during the annual Greater Boston Labor Council breakfast sponsored by the AFL-CIO.
Under the new executive order, workers on federal contracts would be eligible for paid leave if they are sick or caring for a sick relative, the White House said. They will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of seven days a year, officials said.
The president sought to draw a contrast between his administration’s policies and those of Republican candidates for the White House. The GOP believes the best way to stimulate the economy is to cut taxes and loosen regulation, Obama said. Republicans think “just wait, look up in sky, and see prosperity come raining down on us on top of whatever high-rise is in New York City,” he said. “That’s not how the economy works.”