GOP Lawmakers Preemptively Strike Paid Sick Leave Laws

GOP lawmakers around the country have embarked on a campaign to ban all bills requiring mandatory paid sick leave for all workers.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) recently signed the so-called “preemption” bill, blocking a proposed sick-leave ballot initiative currently being considered in Orange County – and any future county, for that matter.

The Sunshine State now joins six other states – Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas and Wisconsin – that have sick leave “preemption” laws. Legislation is currently pending in Michigan, Indiana and Alabama.

Polls show most Americans support the idea of requiring all employers to provide their workers with paid time off when they’re sick. The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid sick leave for its workers. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 40 percent of private-sector U.S. workers receive no sick leave at all, many of them in lower-wage industries like restaurants and retail.

“These bills are really hurting workers, in addition to taking away local control to decide what’s best for communities,” said Vicki Shabo, of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
 
“This is what democracy does not look like,” said Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values at Work. “What do you do when you live in a democracy and people seem to want something you don’t agree with, and you have a lot of money or power? You can limit who gets to vote, and this is the flipside of that: You limit what people can vote for.”

In hopes of creating a national standard in support of paid sick leave, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have both introduced bills at the federal level that would require most private-sector employers to provide a worker with up to seven sick days over the course of a year.