To me, the “American dream” is if a person works hard, that person will have something to show for it. The reality is there are too many obstacles for too many people to realize the “American dream” in any meaningful way.

The health of individual citizens is critical for industry and society to be competitive and succeed. While other developed countries take a coordinated societal approach to health care, in the United States, the burden falls on industry. In Maine, 61 percent of non-elderly are insured by their employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, in the United States, 48 percent of full-time, private-sector workers do not even have one paid sick day, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Workers who have to report to work sick because they cannot afford to lose pay are less productive, and spread illness to coworkers and clients. Such “presenteeism” costs the nation’s economy $180 billion annually in lost productivity, and exceeds the cost of absenteeism and medical and disability benefits.

One small step forward in improving the competitiveness of industry, society and individuals is passing LD 1454, “An Act To Care For Working Families.” LD 1454 stipulates that firms with 25 or more employees provide no less than nine days of paid sick leave per employee per year.

Americans value practicality, family and fairness. Let’s live up to those ideals.

Legislators should support LD 1454.

John Henderson, Auburn

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