Meet Rhiannon

Rhiannon Broschat, working mother

The first thing you should know is that I'm the mom of an amazing 11-year-old boy named Alex. He's autistic, so he's very unique. He’s one of the most caring kids on the planet. I'd do anything for him.

But it's been a struggle for me and Alex. I'm a student at Northeastern Illinois University, and I also work. I used to work at a big healthy food store as a cashier. My managers always had good things to say about my work ethic. But unfortunately, I hit some serious bumps in the road.

I had an asthma attack at work, and my boss sent me home.  The way the system works there, I got a demerit for that. Then my son got hit in the face with a dodge ball at school, and I had to leave my shift 3 hours early—and I got another demerit.

And then, I don't know if you all remember, but last winter was really bad. And on one of those frigid days, Chicago Public Schools decided to close the schools. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work that day. I called everyone to see if they could watch Alex—friends, family, even paid child care providers. Nobody could watch him at the last minute.

Sharing her story at The Working Lunch 

I agonized over what to do. I even thought about leaving him home alone. But that just wasn't the right thing to do. So I called my shift leader to tell her I was going to have to stay home. The next day, they called me to tell me I had too many absences, and they let me go. Just like that. It made me feel disposable. And it made me scared. I had bills to pay, I need to put food on the table, I'm trying to make a better life for us. But all of that was in jeopardy because of a situation that was truly out of my control.

I know I made the right decision. My son is everything to me, and I have to keep him safe. I want to put my story out there so that people can start to understand what it's like for those of us who are struggling. Retail workers, fast food workers, child care workers. We have to make a living, and we shouldn't be put in a position to choose between our families and our jobs.

I’m happy to say that, I found a new job—not in retail—and my new employer is a lot more understanding. I still don’t have paid sick days, but at least I can take a day off without pay when I’m sick or have an emergency.  I don’t have to worry about losing my job, so I feel lucky.

At the White House Summit on Working Families

But I shouldn't have to rely on luck. There should be a law that requires employers to give workers like me paid sick days. Right now, 42 percent of Chicago workers don't have a single paid sick day. And every year, too many of them find themselves in the same situation I did: out of a job because they made the only decision they could make for themselves and their family.

But it doesn’t have to be this way--and you can help. Paid sick days bills have been introduced both in Springfield and in Chicago.

I want to ask you to make your voices heard by supporting Women Employed’s fight for paid sick days here and across the country.  When you make a donation today or respond to an action alert in the coming weeks and months, you are helping Women Employed keep the pressure on. I know we can win this battle, but we need you to join the fight.

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