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map showing which countries have paid sick leave; U.S. is one of very few that does not
New York City is catching up to most of the rest of the world.
It took a long struggle, but the New York City Council finally voted on paid sick leave this week, passing a compromise bill overwhelmingly. And I do mean overwhelmingly: The vote was 45 to three. Mayor Michael Bloomberg objects to the bill, but that is a strong veto-proof majority right there.

Despite that support, paid sick leave took years to get to a vote because it was blocked by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a leading mayoral candidate. It took a sustained fight to get even this compromise:

The mandate will not take effect until April 1, 2014. Between then and Oct. 1, 2015, only businesses with at least 20 employees will be required to provide five paid sick days. After that, the mandate will extend to businesses with at least 15 employees. Manufacturing businesses will be exempt. The bill also allows for the regulation to be postponed if the city’s economy worsens, as measured by an index published by the Federal Reserve.
The votes were there for something stronger, but Quinn wouldn't allow it to come to a vote. Nonetheless, as the deputy director of the Working Families Party, one of the groups that led the fight for paid sick leave, put it:
"Because of this, life will get a little bit better for a whole lot of people in our city. Every worker, every small business owner, every advocate, every donor and every labor leader who spoke up and organized for this over the last 3 years is right to be proud. Nothing good ever happens without a struggle."
Continue reading for more of the week's working people's news.

A fair day's wage

  • Unions to banks: Pay up:
    Oregon, like most states, has yet to really recover from the recession. Because tax revenues are still too low to cover the cost of public services, it faces a $3.5 billion budget gap for 2013-2015. In instances like these, we know the options: The state can cut services or increase taxes to bridge the gap (unlike the federal government, states cannot run a deficit). Because Republicans have successfully killed a plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy in April, now public employees are looking at nearly half a billion dollars being cut from their pensions.

    But there’s another option: Go after the big banks to get back the money the state lost through financial chicanery.

  • Commerce secretary nominee Penny Pritzker's problems with hotel workers and teachers unions have been discussed here on occasion; if you want an in-depth refresher, follow that link. But those are not the only problems progressives might have with her, and I mean, really.
  • You're done with a grueling 12-hour day of physical work. But before you can go home and eat or sleep or have a life, there's one more thing: you have to go through a security checkpoint, something that can add 25 minutes of waiting to your day. Warehouse workers are suing Amazon over that unpaid time added to their shifts.
  • A group of California strawberry pickers was fired for leaving the fields due to a fire 11 miles away that was engulfing them in smoke and ash. The farm settled with the workers, represented by the United Farm Workers, but they didn't want to go back. Small wonder.
  • Union-made Mother's Day recipes. (I did not know Empire Kosher was union. Excellent.)
  • The South: Labor's elephant in the room.
  • As a college student, I participated in the AFL-CIO's first Union Summer. I was in Boston, where one of the most memorable people who came to educate and train us was Charley Richardson, who passed away last weekend.

Education

  • F'ing Michigan Republicans strike again:
    Michigan Republicans are getting ready to inflict further catastrophic damage on our state’s schools with the passage of a package of bills designed to pay for road and bridge repair, a major priority of Governor Rick Snyder. The bills say nothing about education or the School Aid Fund but the impact is there to the tune of more than $770.1 million.
  • We knew it was on the table, that Florida law says that because a 9-year-old boy who has only a brain stem and not a full brain gets two hours a week of work with a teacher, he had to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. But didn't it seem like once this story was on the news, someone would do something about it?
    State Representative Linda Stewart of Orlando told me she didn’t think that a young boy who can’t tell the difference between an apple and a peach should be taking any test, and tried to get officials in the Education Department to step in to stop the charade of Michael taking a test.

    She said nobody did. “Nobody wanted to take the responsibility of stopping it,” she said.

    Rick Roach, an Orange County, Florida, school board member who was following Michael’s story, confirmed that Michael was in fact forced to take the test, meaning that a state employee sat down and read it to him, as if he could actually understand it.

    I just, I can't even. Oh, and by the way, Michael's "score" on the test will count toward assessing the teacher who spends two hours a week with him.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Manufacturing businesses will be exempt." (9+ / 0-)

    What, people working in manufacturing plants don't get sick?

    This sort of "improvement" is what galls me.

    Yes, glad for those who will get paid sick days.

    But WTF? Why in the world is it a compromise to leave some people behind, and deny them the same 'right' to paid sick leave? What kind of compromise is that?

    Not one which is #Equality based, that what sort it is.


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:07:17 AM PDT

  •  Again, we are in great company. (4+ / 0-)

    And with 146 million Americans don't have enough to meet basic needs and a stagnant minimum wage and increasing inequality there is IMO a new form of slavery going on.  I call it "paycheck-to-paycheck slavery".

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:11:17 AM PDT

  •  Well, you can see why they're terrified (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Words In Action

    I mean, San Francisco passed its sick leave law (much more stringent than NYC's) in early 2007. Do I need to remind anyone what happened later in 2007 and 2008?

    QED!

  •  New York is nothing like the city of my youth, but (5+ / 0-)

    I still love it.  

    Please, New Yorkers, don't let the obnoxious pro-capital phony Quinn be your mayor.

    New York can do far, far better.

    A slower bleed-out is not a sustainable value.

    by MrJayTee on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:21:31 AM PDT

    •  We're doing our best (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJayTee, Words In Action, Egalitare

      to make your wish come true. And while we're on the subject, the substance of our current -mayor's- emperor's opinion of the bill:

      This will hurt businesses, and what's more, if you give people five paid sick days a year, they'll take them whether they're sick or not. (paraphrase)
      Sorry I couldn't find the direct quote, which I heard on the radio, but it was, um, memorable. This man clearly has no concept of what it's like to have a job where you can't afford to take a sick day if you won't get paid. Nor has he ever worked in a place where 1/3 of the staff are sick, and passing it around, because they couldn't afford to stay home. I have, though.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:56:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And he's an alleged "moderate"! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sidnora, Words In Action

        Actually, in the current environment, that IS considered moderation.  Anything that doesn't have pregnant women working 12-hour shifts in a uranium mine is moderation.

        Christine Quinn is the same kind of "moderate".

        A slower bleed-out is not a sustainable value.

        by MrJayTee on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:09:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He's not a moderate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MrJayTee

          across the board. Nor does he fit any common present-day political profile. What he's most like is a Rockefeller Republican of 40 years ago: liberal on social issues, conservative on economic issues, and a toss up on foreign policy.

          On the issues where he's liberal, he's very liberal, notably public health and gun violence. He has absolutely no problem with using the full power of the government to rein in businesses when he thinks they are profiting by making people sick directly, i.e. smoking bans, forcing chain restaurants to post the calorie counts of their menu items, or banning trans-fats in their food.

          But on all other big business issues, he's a completely different person. He's never met a developer or financial-services exec he didn't like, and his goal for NYC (which he has largely achieved) is to make it so safe (and synthetic) that a 5-year-old (tourist) could wander through Times Square at 3 am. Along the way, he's managed to narrow the city's economic base to three legs: real estate, finance, and tourism, with a sideline in film and TV production. Our once-thriving manufacturing sector is essentially extinct, apart from boutique or artisanal production (mainly food and drink, all outer-borough). And he's forced almost all creative activity into the outer boroughs; it's too expensive for creative types (or anyone else who isn't wealthy) to live in Manhattan, and he's also very uncomfortable with the messiness and rudeness that often accompanies creative work.

          If he ever knew, he's long since forgotten what life is like for any average outer-borough, middle-class New Yorker.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:49:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that in 40 years' time (0+ / 0-)

            We'll be talking about Bloomberg Democrats the way we now talk about Rockefeller Republicans.  

            It's the tail end of the conservative era; 2008 right before the crisis was its high point.  Nowadays, the only Democrats elected to major offices are fairly conservative, even Obama who I love to death.  

            Rockefeller and his types were back at the tail end of a liberal era.  Back then the only Republicans elected to major offices were fairly liberal, even Nixon who was by no means actually a liberal.

            Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

            by nominalize on Mon May 13, 2013 at 12:29:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  can you imagine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sidnora, Odysseus

        people only getting sick for four days, but then taking the last one anyway as some kind of... personal day? it's fucking outrageous!

        sick days are "bad for business", which is just terrible, as opposed to a lack of sick days being bad for workers, which is desirable because you squeeze more productivity out of them by denying them paid time for when they get sick like the filthy plebs they are.

        Banking on the American people to be able to sort all this out and declare the adult in the room the winner is a very big bet. -Digby

        by Boogalord on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:13:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh of course, forcing sick people to come to work (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sidnora, DSPS owl

          does so much for increasing productivity and acts as an enormous morale booster.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:20:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hi, Syria! Gawd, that's embarrassing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Words In Action

    What kind of rinky-dink banana republic are we running here?

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:22:44 AM PDT

    •  the Pritzker kind... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      The kind of rinky-dink banana republic where billionaire heiresses get named to high government posts despite a complete lack of qualifications (other than fundraising prowess).

      •  Fundraising prowess IS the qualification... (0+ / 0-)

        for Commerce. The Secretary of Commerce travels around the world trying to convince rich people to put their money where we want them to.

        It's not like Defense or State or Labor, where the Secretary runs the department. It's a big fundraising job, and has been for ages.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:19:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, that's wrong... (0+ / 0-)

          No, the Secretary of Commerce is paid by the taxpayers to run the department (I believe there are about 35,000 employees) in fufilment of its statutory duties.

          That both Dem and Rep presidents have used the post to reward fundraising ability amongst their own little cliques is a sad commentary on our politics. We need a little Hope & Change at DoC!

  •  Paid sick leave (4+ / 0-)

    Maternity leave
    Paid vacations
    Strengthening overtime pay
    Ending the contractor free for all
    Rising minimum wage

    Those are things Democrats should be pushing everywhere. Do as Republicans do as soon as they get power anywhere and they pass a bunch of workers punishment legislation as soon as they can, but helping workers

  •  Well.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, Words In Action, Odysseus

    We have paid 'sick time' at work.  
    Lucky us.  
    Only thing is, if you actually use the 'sick time' for sick time, it counts as a demerit*.  And demerits are the slide pole to firing.
    Lucky us.
    (*From the handbook of the modern way to run a company, by esteemed MBA grads)

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sat May 11, 2013 at 11:38:16 AM PDT

  •  I'm much more encouraged by the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    lop-sidedness of the vote than I am by the fact that a liberal state passed a mandatory sick-leave law.

    Bill Moyers had a guest (last night) that had coordinated organization of the Port of Long Beach (CA) truckers (non-unionized because their trucking company employers deemed them independent contractors) demanding better pay; the issue is now in SCOTUS, because of course the trucking companies sued to overturn the legislation that sanctioned the pay raise.  

    What was surprising was that -- in spite of the right's universal opposition to minimum wage increase bills "on behalf of small businesses that will have to pay their employees more" -- the local small businesses hugely SUPPORTED the pay raise, because it meant that better-paid truckers would spend more money patronizing their businesses!  (Well, duh!)  Local polling showed 65% in favor of the pay raise.

    Another great story that reveals the lies of the right's political propaganda and agenda.

    Here's a link to the story: http://billmoyers.com/...

    Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

    by ceebee7 on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:27:03 PM PDT

    •  just to be clear, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nominalize

      it wasn't NY state that passed this law, it was New York City, which is by far the most liberal part of the state. And even so hasn't had a Democratic mayor in 20 years.

       The current mayor has vowed to veto the bill (see my comment above on why), but fortunately it will be easily overridden. The currently leading candidate to replace him (though not if I can help it) kept the bill bottled up in committee for three years, only allowed it to be voted on when election-year pressure forced her to do so, and watered it down before allowing the vote.

      We may be leaders on social issues here, but when our demands touch the plutocrats' wealth, look out. And that goes for our state government too, even though our governor claims to be a Democrat.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:11:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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