Is media turning the tide on mandatory sick leave?

Sick Leave
Photo Credit RH Reality Check

A report out last week in U.S. News and World Report suggested “the tide is turning in the debate over whether all employees should be able to earn paid sick leave.”

The report was published in the lead-up to a vote Wednesday in Portland, Ore., where the City Council voted unanimously to mandate — or force — that local businesses offer sick leave, requiring employers to give workers up to five days off for illness each year.

The decision makes Portland just the fourth U.S. city to dictate compensation policy to businesses. The other three are Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. At the state level, only Connecticut has passed such a law.

For the record, these are arguably the four most liberal cities in America.

The Philadelphia City Council passed its measure on Thursday by a 11-6 vote, according to the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. However, a two-thirds majority, or 12 votes, will be needed to override an expected veto from the mayor.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat, vetoed a similar measure when passed two years earlier, saying the bill would put Philadelphia at a competitive disadvantage.

And here in Orange County, far-left activists, acting on behalf of labor unions and other national “progressive” organizations, successfully maneuvered to get the issue on the 2014 ballot, something that should prompt locals to wonder if Central Florida is as far left as San Francisco and Seattle.

Yet, with these few successes, the U.S. News said the “tide is turning.”

Is this an accurate assessment? Or is it another example of media bias influencing policy decisions and election outcomes?

U.S. News characterized the issue as workers forced to “face the hard choice between going to work sick or staying home and losing a day’s pay and maybe even being told not to bother coming back.”

In reality, what business owner, large or small, is going to be successful in attracting employees in today’s competitive market if he is going to fire someone for getting sick and missing one day of work?

Anyone who has ever operated a business that depends on employees understands this is a false choice. Business owners know how difficult it is to find good employees, and most go out of their way to hold onto them once hired.

There is also costs associated with firing employees, just as there is with hiring and training replacements. Like our current president, who has never signed the front of a paycheck, those pushing the sick leave initiative would not know this.

The position “progressives” takes on mandatory sick leave is similar to how they view the end result of capitalism, something called “profit.” This stand begins with the false assumption that business, much like profit, is inherently bad and looks to oppress and abuse workers at every opportunity.

Demonizing business owners as uncaring fat cats sipping champagne from slippers while their employees are forced to work 14-hour days in sweatshop conditions for mere pennies is comical — particularly so when considering in the most affected small businesses, owners are the last to get paid after all other obligations are met.

What is surprising is that this rhetoric — which borrows heavily from attitudes set in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution, as American cities grew in number and size and workers were “a dime a dozen” — resonates with Americans today.

But for a complicit media, the American public would better understand that feel-good measures such as mandatory paid sick leave come with a significant cost to the community, be it the number of jobs a business may offer, the hourly wage it can afford to pay or the price it charges for its goods.

More importantly, the folks would realize that it is being driven at the national level, in part by organized labor — among the top contributors to Democratic campaigns — as a means to maintain relevancy at a time when membership is at a critical low point.


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Tom Tillison


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