News from the Daily Kos Labor
- 2018 elections give paid sick leave and family leave new momentum in the states
June, 18 2019
Nevada recently became the latest state to pass a paid sick leave law after 2018 put Democrats in control of the state. But Nevada isn’t the only state where paid leave has advanced in 2019, and the Democratic Governors Association is highlighting that momentum.
In addition to Nevada’s paid sick leave law, which will require businesses with more than 50 workers to provide 40 hours of earned sick days to full-time workers:
- New Jersey has expanded its paid family leave law from six to 12 weeks and up to 85% of pay.
- Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a law requiring employers with 10 or more workers to provide up to 40 hours of paid leave per year to be used for any purpose.
- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order giving state employees paid parental leave—eight weeks after giving birth and four weeks for other new parents.
- Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign the nation’s strongest paid family leave law.
- New Mexico and Louisiana also passed modest expansions of leave policies.
This is the kind of basic, humane policy to which Republicans are staunchly opposed. Policies that virtually every developed nation has and that are the law in a growing number of states, but that they want us to believe would be a disaster in the U.S. This is the kind of policy we get when Democrats are in charge.
- Congress makes minimum wage history, going the longest without an increase since 1938
June, 17 2019
The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since July 24, 2009. That’s coming up on a decade, but it’s already hit an infuriating milestone: June 16 marked the longest the minimum wage had gone without an increase since 1938, when the U.S. passed its first minimum wage. Because Republicans are happy to have the minimum wage be a poverty wage—and it is a wage so low that a full-time job is not enough to pull a family of two above the poverty threshold.
The Economic Policy Institute’s David Cooper lays out what workers have lost in the near-decade since the last increase: $7.25 in July 2009 was equivalent to $8.70 now. That means a minimum wage worker has seen their purchasing power drop by 17%, or the equivalent of more than $3,000 a year. And still Republicans stand in the way of a raise.
The good news is that many states—31 of them, plus the District of Columbia—have raised their minimum wages above the federal level, and in some cases well above it. Already in 2019 alone, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut have passed laws gradually raising the wage to $15 an hour, while Nevada and New Mexico are on their way to $12. But that doesn’t excuse congressional inaction, let alone congressional inaction on a historic, record-shattering level. Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, but it won’t happen as long as Republicans are in a position to block it.
- Nevada workers get some big wins because elections matter, this week in the war on workers
June, 15 2019
Nevada Democrats had a great Election Day in 2018, and Nevada workers are about to start seeing the effects of that. Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a package of major bills, including one giving 20,000 state workers collective bargaining rights, a minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, and more.
The state’s minimum wage will only go up to $12—$11 if the employer offers insurance—and won’t reach that level until 2024, with the first 75-cent raise not coming until July 2020. Compared with the laws taking some states’ minimums up to $15 on a faster timetable that’s not spectacular, but since Nevada’s current minimum wage is $7.25 for employers that offer insurance and $8.25 for ones that don’t, it’s still a substantial improvement for an estimated 300,000 Nevada workers. (And something for worker-activists to build on, perhaps.)
Workers at businesses with more than 50 employees will also start getting paid sick leave, up to 40 hours a year for full-time workers. That law will take effect January 1. Nevada will join 10 states and Washington, D.C., in having a paid sick leave law.
The law giving public workers collective bargaining rights is “yet another massive win for working people and the labor movement as union momentum continues to grow across the country,” according to AFSCME. Harry Schiffman, a local AFSCME president in the state called it “a historic day for state employees and all Nevadans, as collective bargaining rights will mean a voice on the job to make meaningful changes in our workplaces and communities.”
- New Haven teachers strike drags on for a 14th day this week in the war on workers
June, 8 2019
Teachers in California’s New Haven Unified School District have been on strike for 14 days as of Friday. They were considering the school district’s “last, best, and final offer,” which falls short of the pay increases teachers are calling for. The school district entered negotiations offering zero raise, meaning teachers would be falling behind as the cost of living rises.
A group of frustrated parents is attempting a recall of three school board members, saying, “We have witnessed a total and complete lack of willingness and ability of this board to lead us through these difficult times,” and, “Teachers in this school district deserve more from this board of education and administration. The students deserve more from all of us.”
The New Haven strike follows teachers strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Denver, Colorado; and West Virginia—all in 2019. Teachers in South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Massachusetts have also held significant protests this year.
- Connecticut Democrats pass strong paid family leave bill
June, 4 2019
Connecticut is joining the six states and Washington, D.C., that have passed paid family leave laws, and its policy will be the most generous among those states. The state House passed a family leave bill on Friday that had earlier been passed by the state Senate, and Gov. Ned Lamont has expressed strong support, calling it “landmark support for working families so they don’t have to choose between the job they need and the family they love, or their own health.”
The bill, which will go into effect in July 2021, gives Connecticut workers 12 weeks of leave while ill or to care for a new baby or a family member. Its definition of family members is expansive, including any blood relation or person who is the “equivalent of a family member.” Funded by a 0.5% payroll tax, it will replace wages up to a maximum of $900, on a sliding scale with minimum wage workers eligible to get up to 95% of their pay. (Connecticut also recently passed a $15 minimum wage law, so the minimum wage in July 2021 will be $12, rising to $13 on August 1, 2021, and reaching $15 in 2023.)
California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island already have paid family leave. Washington state, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts have passed laws that have not yet fully gone into effect. The momentum may continue, too, with Oregon considering a paid family leave policy. And, of course, many Democratic presidential candidates support paid family leave, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand making it a centerpiece of her campaign and several of her primary competitors signed on to her Senate bill on the issue.
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