You know how Republicans say they're against “big government” & we should “return power to the states?” Well, the Alabama Legislature neglects to mention that they want power to stop at the state level. Certainly, we can't have those pesky city and county governments regulating… well…. pretty much anything.
The latest manifestation of that is ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) member Rep. Jack Williams' bill – HB360. It prohibits Alabama local governments from requiring employers within their jurisdication to offer any sort of paid sick leave, vacation time, or leave that's not already mandated by the federal government.
It's one of the few 2014 session bills that doesn't have some fancy, misleading title, so let's offer a couple:
- The Go to Work Sick Act of 2014
- The Spread Disease to Restaurant Patrons Act
- The Take Your Child To Day Care Sick Act
- The Give Your Boss The Flu Act
How many of us have had co-workers who insisted on coming to work sick bragged about it, like it's some badge of honor to spread germs through the office instead of taking a day of sick leave? Well, a lot of people go to work sick because they have no choice, and that's nothing for anyone to brag about.
And then there are the parents who dose sick children with decongestants, fever-reducing drugs, etc. and drop them at day care or school because the parent can't afford to lose a day's pay – or be fired like this Chicago Whole Foods worker.
Lack of sick leave puts workers and customers at risk. Productivity declines, and the lives of low-wage workers are even more stressful and unstable. Do you stay home with your sick child and risk losing your job – and managing the cascading effects that come with unemployment? Do you go to work sick and sniffle your way food prep in the restaurant kitchen or go to the doctor instead – losing a day's pay and possibly your job if your boss is a jerk. As a customer, do you want to eat in that restaurant?
While cities in other states are passing humane, family friendly legislation requiring paid sick leave, Alabama lawmakers prefer to dance to ALEC's tune.
The bill passed the Alabama House by a vote of 84-9 on Feb. 18. Democrats voting in favor included: Attorney General candidate Joe Hubbard & House Minority Leader Craig Ford.
Yesterday, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Business & Labor by a 4-0 vote. The eight members of that committee consist of 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats. The Democrats can always be outvoted, but what's up with not voting at all?
At times like this, you can't tell the Democrats from the Republicans even with a scorecard! This bill puts one more nail in the “home rule” coffin, and it's a bi-partisan effort. Is it any wonder at all that many Alabama rank & file Democrats are dissatisfied with party leadership?
Two thirds of workers at the bottom 25% of the pay scale — the country's lowest earners — do not receive paid time off for illness, according to a Labor Department report this year. Three quarters of part time employees are not paid when they miss work due to illness.
Sadly, I've come to expect most GOP legislators in Alabama to be callous, indifferent, and often just downright mean. But, hello… calling all Democrats.…. Aren't these the hardworking people that we're supposed to be out fighting for? Not in the Alabama Legislature, apparently.