As a progressive city councilor in the second-largest city in Oregon, I found Michelle Goldberg’s “Power to the City” [April 21] especially timely. Eugene is a midsize city at the epicenter of a county that suffers from chronic lower-than-average wages alongside relatively high housing costs, leaving many working families struggling in near-poverty. In March, I co-sponsored a proposal for a paid sick time ordinance that would provide workplace protections and financial security for approximately 25,000 mostly low-wage workers in our city. It is modeled after a similar ordinance in Portland, implemented in January.
We are hearing from union grocery store workers who can’t take sick time until they have been ill for three days, hospital workers who don’t earn sick days and workers who fear losing their jobs when they have to care for a sick child. A city ordinance would provide much-needed protection for these vulnerable workers and improve public health overall. Based on data from Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, it would not have a negative impact on employment or business. I hope we are just the first of many to take this step and build on this movement for progressive public policies that protect workers and public health.
Eugene City Councilor
May Flights of Angels…
A few years ago, I met Jonathan Schell at an event at the University of California, Irvine [“Jonathan Schell,” April 21]. I bought his book The Unconquerable World, and he autographed it for me with the words “In hope.” It is one of my prized possessions. As our planet is faced with the twin perils of nuclear proliferation and climate change, we can ill afford to lose his wise and prescient voice.
huntington beach, calif.
World’s Oldest Work
Right on, Katha [Pollitt, “Sex Work: The New Normal?” April 21]—if it’s fine to be a “sex worker,” then it’s fine to be a john. I’d like to see some neo-femo-lefto discussion of that.
Nothing is more annoying and demeaning to a prostitute than comparing the work to waitressing or domestic work. Prostitution is nothing like normal work. Nor is it like being a BDSM mistress, stripping or even working in porn, because, of these types of sex work, prostitution is the least safe. There are no protective labor laws, no witnesses, nothing to prevent us from being robbed, raped or murdered. This glamorization of the “happy hooker” is perpetuated by clients, pimps, madams—even dreamy-eyed writers who fantasize about it but don’t have the courage to escort. I’ve read feminist accounts of how “empowering” sex work is, and I can tell you that it is not.