Family of deceased calls for mandatory paid sick days
by Andrew Pavia
Aug 29, 2012 | 1494 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
All Felix Trinidad wanted was a few paid sick days so that he could recuperate from chemotherapy treatments he was receiving in his fight against stomach cancer properly like his doctors told him to do.

While working at a Brooklyn supermarket, however, Trinidad couldn't afford to take a day off from work to rest because he had a family to feed. On July 12, he died at the age of 34 from complications due to his illness.

Trinidad’s widow, Anastacia Gonzalez, said that it wasn't only the treatment process that was interrupted by work. Using a translator, Gonzalez said that her late husband missed many doctor’s appointments after being told that he had a stomach ulcer in October 2011.

Unable to take a sick day to get and update on his stomach condition, he continued to work 12 hours a day and six days a week for $3.80 an hour.

Finally, in December Trinidad took an unpaid day off of work to go to a doctor, who told him that he had stomach cancer.

“When Felix was asked to choose between feeding his family and protecting his health, he chose his family,” said Gonzalez.

Clergy members from throughout New York City came together on August 22 on the steps of City Hall to show support for Gonzalez, and demand that paid sick day legislation be passed.

“We demand that the City Council pass legislation, pass a law that would allow sick days for all workers,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, chairman of Churches United to Save and Heal.

“This is an outrage,” he added, “and we call on Speaker Quinn and the City Council to pass the paid sick time bill. We cannot wait any longer. We need the bill to come to the floor of the Council now.”

Jose Manuel Paralta worked at Golden Farm supermarket with Trinidad for the past five years, during which time they became friends.

“This maybe wouldn't have had to happen if the city had supported us with paid sick days,” he said.

Following the rally, clergy members marched up the steps to the balcony overlooking the chamber. Dr. Ray Blanchette, of The Clergy Campaign for Social and Economic Justice, led the group in prayer and blessed the chamber.

He said, “We anoint and bless this chamber.” Reaching his hand in the direction of Speaker Quinn's seat Blanchette and preached when he asked God to, “Let your power invade this place and let it run through the heart of the speaker.”

“If Felix had paid sick days, he could have visited the doctor and had his cancer diagnosed without fearing he would lose his job or not earn enough to support us,” said Gonzalez. “He could have taken the time to rest during chemotherapy and maybe he would still be with us.”
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