Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘policy’

Opposition to paid sick leave costs Christine Quinn some high-profile support

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Laura ClawsonNew York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s refusal to allow a paid sick leave bill to come to a vote—though it has the support of a strong majority of the city council—resurfaced in the news this week when feminist icon Gloria Steinem said she would withdraw her support from Quinn if Quinn continues to block the bill.

“Making life fairer for all women seems more important than breaking a barrier for one woman,” Ms. Steinem said, adding that the bill would ensure that working mothers could better take care of sick children without fear of losing their jobs.

While it’s unlikely that Gloria Steinem’s endorsement or lack thereof is going to move many votes, it underscores a potential weakness for Quinn: She’s getting more credit as a progressive candidate than her positions would merit, in part because, as Steinem points out, she would be the first woman elected mayor of New York City. And she’s a married lesbian to boot. Drawing attention to the disconnect between how her individual role is perceived and the policies she embraces may not be super helpful among voters, though since the policies are geared to get her business support, it may be a worthwhile tradeoff as far as she’s concerned.

Quinn continues to block the vote while claiming that paid sick leave is “a worthy and admirable goal, one I would like to make available for all.” Her reasoning, of course, is the standard line pushed by crappy employers that it would cost jobs. However, job creation did not suffer in San Francisco following the implementation of that city’s paid sick leave law in 2007. And paid sick leave continues to be a public health issue; as Katie J.M. Baker points out, “a recent CDC study identified infected food workers as a source of between 53 and 82% of norovirus outbreaks.”

The arguments against paid sick leave just don’t hold up. Quinn is blocking a bill that would benefit not just the more than 1.5 million New Yorkers who currently lack paid sick leave, but has widespread public support and would save tens of millions of dollars in health care costs each year, resulting from fewer emergency room visits. It’s costing her high-profile support in her mayoral run, and it should cost her more.

This post was originally posted on the Daily Kos on February 22, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011.

Workers Cheer Living Wage Victory in Austin

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Barbara DohertyConstruction workers and others in the Austin, Texas, area are celebrating a coalition victory this week after Travis County commissioners approved a first-ever economic development policy that includes a living wage requirement.

The policy requires contractors asking for tax incentives to move into the county to pay all employees at least $11 per hour. It’s a significant improvement over the prevailing construction hourly wage of $7.50.

On the same day the county provision passed, a subcommittee of the Austin City Council passed a similar policy, which will come to the full council in the coming months. As reported in the Austin American-Statesman, both the city and county have been criticized about generous tax incentives offered in recent years to major companies such as Apple and Marriott.

Along with faith-based and student organizations, the Texas Building and Construction Trades Council, the Laborers (LIUNA), the Electrical Workers (IBEW), AFSCME Local 1624, Education Austin (AFT) and Texas State Employees Union (TSEU)/CWA Local 6186 participated in the yearlong campaign spearheaded by the Austin-based Workers Defense Project (WDP). The 1,000-member WDP has worked for 10 years on wage theft and other workers’ rights issues.

Austin Interfaith and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) were among others that supported the campaign.

“Really, what this means is construction workers are starting to have a say in their working conditions and their pay,” WDP organizer Greg Casar told a celebratory crowd after the county commissioners voted.

This post was originally posted on November 30, 2012 at AFL-CIO NOW. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Barbara Doherty: My dad drove a laundry delivery truck in San Francisco and I came to appreciate unions sitting in the waiting room at the Teamsters vision center there. More than 30 years ago, I joined the international SEIU publications staff (under the union’s legendary, feisty president, George Hardy). Living in California, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., over the years, I have contributed countless news and feature articles, as well as editing, to the publications and websites of unions in the public and private sectors and the construction trades.

81 Percent Of Moms Without High School Diplomas Also Have No Paid Maternity Leave

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The average American woman who never got her high school diploma makes about $365 a week. That means, if she works every single week from January 1 through December 31, she’ll earn a total of $20,540 a year. But if that woman’s expecting a child, she is going to have to take some time off. And there’s a four in five chance that, here in the United States, she won’t get even a day’s worth of paid maternity leave to deliver her baby or be with her newborn.

The United States is one of the only developed countries that does not offer paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act is supposed to provide protection for expecting mothers, but its stringent requirements exclude a lot of women, particularly low-income, low-education women of color. About half the workforce doesn’t qualify for FMLA.

But even if their jobs do fall under the requirements (they must have worked “for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during that time for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius”), they aren’t guaranteed any income.

A new proposal from the Center for American Progress, however, is trying to remedy that. Its plan for Social Security Cares would require employers to give qualified employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for certain life events that include “the birth of a newborn or the arrival of a newly adopted or fostered child; The serious illness of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child; The worker’s own serious illness that limits his or her ability to work.”

Women are growing to be a larger and larger percentage of the primary breadwinners in their homes. But for many, the joy of motherhood evaporates into a panic of trying make ends meet.

Paid maternity leave is a societal investment that would ultimately benefit everyone, including employers. Offering paid maternity leave allows employees to stay at their jobs who would otherwise be forced to quit, lowering training and start-up costs for employers. It also allows employers to recruit the best person for the job without the employee having to consider leave policy. When such a policy was implemented in California, 99 percent of employers found it had either no effect or a positive impact on employee morale; 91 percent said the same about profitability, and 89 percent said the same about productivity.

This article was originally posted on November 2, 2012 at Think Progress

About the Author: Annie-Rose Strasser is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.

Your Rights Job Survival The Issues Features Resources About This Blog