Article 43


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why A Law For Paid Sick Leave?

Can’t find meaningful work? Toiling as a TEMP for big business exploiting you and your skills?

THAT’S LIFE.  The good old days of being treated with dignity and respect by employers is nearly gone.  Likewise for loyalty and retention.

UNION MEMBERSHIP in America is DOWN to LESS than ten percent.

I guess that’s why we’re even thinking of laws like this:


Commissioners to vote on controversial paid sick leave

August 27, 2012

Orange County commissioners are expected to make a controversial vote on Tuesday that could affect thousands of workers.

The issue at hand is whether or not all workers should get paid sick leave.

Labor activists say people deserve time off.

“Is it sound public policy to tell business how to run business?” said Fred Brummer, county commissioner.

The question posed by Brummer is at the heart of a political battle that’s boiling over in Orange County.

Should the county force employers to offer workers paid time off when they or their family members get sick?

Brummer and the majority of his colleagues on the County Commission say no.

“These types of starter jobs that don’t have sick time are the kind of jobs that so much of my district needs,” said Brummer.

With the county’s biggest employers like Disney and Darden Restaurants behind them, commissioners are pushing for a referendum on the November ballot, asking voters to ban companies from being forced to offer paid sick leave.

It’s a last minute move that’s angered labor activists who spend months collecting signatures to get their own sick leave question on the ballot.

“We had more than 50,000 petitions validated by the supervisor of elections office. We did it on time, played by the rules, played by the book and this is an attempt to basically stop democracy in action,” said Maria McCluskey, of Organize Now.

If approved, their question would force employers with more than 15 workers to offer one hour of sick time for every 37 hours worked.

“It’s rough out there, especially in Florida, and workers need this type of protection,” said McCluskey.

With the way votes are expected to line up on Tuesday, it appears both questions will appear on the November ballot.

But what if they both pass?

WFTV was told by lawyers in the know that the county commissioners’ initiative would likely trump.



Lawmakers look to cut workers’ unused vacations

By Brent Kallestad
The Associated Press

Rank-and-file state workers who haven’t received a pay raise in the past half dozen years may now see some perks reduced to help pare what some lawmakers say is a worrisome liability.

State officials want to decrease the amount of vacation and sick time employees can accrue from one year to the next, saying the amount of money that would be owed these workers if they left state employment is a serious liability on the budget. The state owes about $677 million in deferred vacation and sick pay, down from about $691 million a year ago money that will be paid out over many years as employees quit or retire.

Currently, employees can accrue up to combined 18 weeks of vacation and sick time that would be paid when they leave. Gov. Rick Scott and some lawmakers say employees should have those accruals capped at a lower level.

“The bottom line is the taxpayers are the ones footing the bills,” said state Rep. Debbie Mayfield. “When we have benefits and programs that the private sector doesn’t that the taxpayers are paying for, then we need to take a look at it. Let’s get real with what our benefits are.”

Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, introduced legislation for the 2012 session that didn’t get off the ground in an election year and is now working with incoming Department of Management Services chief Craig Nichols along with Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, who doubles as the state’s chief operating officer, on a new bill for 2013.

“We are exploring the methods that private industry manages paid time off, including sick leave and vacation time, and plan to discuss some solutions with the Legislature during the next session,” Wilkins said.

Doug Martin, legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union that represents 57,000 Florida government employees, said hacking away at workers’ benefits will make it more difficult for the state to hire and keep its top talent.

“The work for many in the state is not dictated by a time clock, it’s dictated by a 911 call,” Martin said. “The state has to compete against the private sector. The state has to provide a suitable package of benefits and pay, not only to recruit the best, but also to retain them.”

The largest portion of the obligation to career service employees is $424 million for vacation time on the books. Another $151 million is unused sick time that employees with 10 years or more service can cash in when they leave state government.

Finally, there is nearly $102 million owed in special comp pay for employees ח many in the public safety sector deemed essential at times. Instead of getting overtime pay for extra work, they take extra time off. A new rule that took effect on July 1 requires that employees taking a special comp day must now schedule the corresponding day off within the next few months and use it before the expiration date.

Employees who are asked to work on holidays or in certain emergencies note that many agencies are already short-staffed.

“How are they going to work this out?” asked Mike Ebersole, who has worked for the state for a dozen years and serves as the statewide political chair for the union representing state employees. “We’re giving up time with our families to go out and do these things and you can’t even give us comp time?”

A small part of the total, $4.2 million, is in the governor’s office, which pales in comparison to the more than $200 million accumulated by state corrections employees.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, noted that lawmakers have tried for years to put the brakes on the costly system, recalling that former Senate President John McKay changed the rules to curtail school principals leaving with payouts sometimes nearing six figures for built up vacation and sick time. Fasano agrees with Mayfield that payouts on accrued time should be based on the current value and not the salary the employee earns at the time they leave the state’s ranks.

“Sick days are supposed to be used for what?” Fasano asked. “It’s for when the employee is sick or has a child that has to go to the doctor or for emergency purposes. You need to use them responsibly.”

Mayfield would like to revise the present sick leave rules where employees could carry over sick days as a protection against a catastrophic illness, instead of receiving a lump sum payout when they leave. Another possibility would be making disability insurance available to employees to cover them during lengthy illnesses instead of allowing them to accrue sick days.

There is no federal law requiring private companies to offer paid sick days, although employees of the U.S. government are provided 13 paid days a year. Federal employees also have a broad range of benefits that go beyond insurance and RETIREMENT and each agency is free to offer its own benefits package.

Nearly two out of every three private-sector workers, or 62%, get paid sick days, according to a 2010 estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But most of them are among the highest-paid workers in the nation. About 38%, or some 40 million American workers, get no paid sick days. The availability of paid sick days rises with income.

Fasano and Mayfield agree that they don’t want to change benefits already earned by employees. The Legislature recently required state employees to contribute 3 percent of their earnings to their retirement, but that has been challenged and awaits review by the state Supreme Court.

Annual leave payout for career service employees maxes out at six weeks. A departing employee can be paid for a quarter of their unused sick leave up to a maximum of 480 hours. The more highly paid senior management employees can receive a maximum of 12 weeks unused vacation plus the accrued sick time. The vacation and sick leave benefits are accumulated on the number of hours worked each pay period with the multiplier increasing with seniority.

“Some of these state employees know how the system works better than the people who put it in place,” Mayfield said, adding that agency supervisors must do a better job. “Managers should be held accountable to make sure that employees use their vacation time and personal time off. Use it or lose it.”

Copyright The Associated Press



Paid sick leave a wise investment
Maryland can protect workers, public health with little effect on businesses

By Barbara Morgan and Ross Eisenbrey
November 28, 2012

Having shown national leadership on marriage equality and fair treatment of immigrant children, Maryland has the opportunity to turn its attention to the plight of workers who have no access to paid sick days. The ability to earn paid sick days allows workers to avoid the choice of going to work sick or going without pay and maybe even losing a job.

Employers, workers, and the public would all benefit from such a standard. The many employers that already provide paid sick leave would have a level playing field with their competitors, and all would more easily maintain a healthy workplace.

Currently, 40 percent of private sector employees nationwide cannot earn paid sick days, and lower-paid service workers in the restaurant and fast-food industries are particularly unlikely to have this safeguard. Food service workers, health care workers, child care workers and others who come into physical contact with the public or handle our food are among the least likely to have paid leave. There can be serious consequences when infected employees go to work, as happened with an estimated 8 million people during the peak of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak several years ago.

Polls show overwhelming public support for paid sick leave, even among those who identify themselves as political conservatives. And as more and more jurisdictions adopt a standard, familiarity and support will grow.

Any new labor standard will generate concerns about the business climate and job creation, but the evidence from jurisdictions that have legislated paid sick days has all been positive.

The first jurisdiction to set a paid sick days standard was San Francisco, where employers have been required to offer paid leave since 2007. Surveys show workersג lives improved, businesses succeeded, and two-thirds of employers support the citys sick-days ordinance. Fears that the law would impede job growth were never realized. In fact, during the last five years, employment in San Francisco grew twice as fast as in neighboring counties that had no sick leave policy. San Francisco’s job growth was faster, according to the Institute for Womens Policy Research, even in the food service and hospitality sector, which is dominated by small businesses and seen as vulnerable to additional costs.

Connecticut became the first state to enact a sick-days standard earlier this year, and it is too early to speak definitively about its experience so far. But Economic Policy Institute economists Elise Gould and Doug Hall calculated the potential impact of Connecticut’s law before it passed and concluded that the cost of allowing employees to earn five days of paid sick leave a year would be very small relative to sales. If Connecticut employees with no sick leave were given the ability to earn five days of paid leave and used it as much as employees who already had access to leave, the cost was predicted to be only 0.19 percent of sales. For employers already providing five or more days of leave, there would, of course, be no cost at all. There is no reason to think the impact on business in Maryland would be any different.

For this small cost, we can improve the quality of jobs held by low-wage workers, boost productivity, reduce turnover and protect public health.

Opening access to paid sick days for more than 700,000 Maryland workers who do not have leave will mean stronger, healthier families. Working parents are often forced to choose between staying home with a sick child and going to work. When parents cannot take off work, children are sometimes sent to school ill, diminishing their learning experience and exposing other students, teachers and staff to infection. When employees go to work sick, they endanger their own health and the health of their colleagues while jeopardizing safety and the quality of their work. But not going to work can mean overdue bills or skipping meals.

Business lobbyists will argue that new rules will hamper job creation ח despite the evidence from San Francisco. In fact, it is not over-regulation but rather rising inequality and wage stagnation, which dampen consumer demand, that are among the fundamental causes of our economys woes. Businesses will add workers when demand picks up, a process that can be helped by increasing access to paid sick leave. Employee turnover will be reduced and there will be more money in the pockets of the poorest workers, the people most likely to spend in the local economy.

Maryland should seize the opportunity to take the lead in quality job creation and sensible public policy.

Barbara Morgan is an economist and faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University. Ross Eisenbrey is vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.



Disney World Fights Against Paid Sick Days For Florida Employees

By Barry Bradford
Huffington Post
April 27, 2013

Pressure from Disney World has influenced the Florida Senate to take a big step back in guaranteeing paid sick days for workers.

The Florida Senate voted Friday to PREVENT LOCAL COMMUNITIES FROM ENACTING THEIR OWN WAGE AND BENEFITS LAWS until a statewide study can be conducted, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

The bill, which would at least delay efforts to guarantee all workers paid sick days was DRAFTED WITH THE SUPPORT OF DISNEY WORLD AND DARDEN RESTERAUNTS, the company behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster, as well as the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“Today, Republicans in the Florida Senate stood up for corporations like Disney and Darden and against the interests of families who believe their own communities know what is best for them,” Stephanie Porta, an advocate for those seeking paid-sick days, SAID IN A STATEMENT.

Family organization is spearheading efforts to fight back. The group claims that this week, Disney World refused to accept a PETITION WITH 6,000 SIGNATURES demanding that the resort STOP PUSHING LEGISLATION THAT STANDS IN THE WAY OF EARENED SICK TIME INITIATIVES.

Neither Darden nor Disney World responded to voicemails from The Huffington Post requesting comment. MomsRising also was not available for comment.

The move is the latest in a drawn-out battle. Disney World and Darden worked to keep a measure requiring paid sick days OFF THE BALLOT last November. Workers also have complained that the resort DOES NOT PAY A LIVING WAGE, Reuters reported in 2010. That same year, Disney agreed to pay $433,819 to employees in back wages after an investigation uncovered the resort had VIOLATED THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT, according to Occupational Health and Safety.


Posted by Elvis on 08/28/12 •
Section Dying America
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