A12 EZ RE the washington post . sunday, march 22, 2020 the coronavirus outbreak
New sick leave law doesn’t help workers who need it most
BY ALYSSA FOWERS AND SHELLY TAN
The Families First Coronavirus Emergency Response Act passed the Senate on March 18 and was signed into law by President Trump.
The “phase 2” bill was one of the first moves by Congress in reaction to the coronavirus out- break and aimed at extending sick leave to vulnerable U.S. workers, along with other finan- cial benefits.
Nearly a quarter of U.S. work- ers don’t have access to paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many of these workers, like waiters and waitresses, the federally mandat- ed leave comes too late, as layoffs from social distancing measures have spiked.
But many parts of the retail industry — such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas sta- tions — will likely remain open, declared “essential” by such cit- ies as Philadelphia that have instituted shelter-in-place poli- cies.
Workers at these businesses will come into contact with the most people, and if they don’t already have paid sick leave, the
new law is unlikely to help.
The law extends paid sick leave to workers diagnosed with or in quarantine for covid-19, the dis- ease caused by the novel corona- virus. However, the guarantee only applies to employers with more than 50 and fewer than 500 employees. Many essential in- dustries have few companies of
Only 12 percent of workers in
essential industries work for companies that will be guaran- teed coverage by the bill. The problem is particularly acute for general merchandise companies, such as Target and Walmart. According to the latest estimates from the Census Bureau, 98 per- cent of workers in the general merchandise industry work for a business that is too large to be eligible for paid sick leave under the new law.
Many banks and grocery stores also employ millions of workers that won’t be affected by the new law.
Paid sick leave is nearly univer- sal in other industrialized coun- tries: In a review of 22 countries with high standards of living, only the United States and Japan did not guarantee paid sick days for short-term illness.
Most essential workers are at companies too big or too small to gain sick leave
Each figure represents about 100,000 employees at essential businesses
who work closely with customers do not have access to hand sani- tizer and may not be able to wash their hands.
“You have to go across a very large building to wash your hands in the bathroom.” she said, “and if you get a customer service call, you have to go back. There is only so long a customer can wait.”
Although Home Depot has shortened hours to allow for deep cleaning, Lowe’s is still open to customers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lowe’s does not plan to change its hours. “People are nervous,” Alayna said.
If a worker does fall ill, sick leave is only part of the story. Another benefit in the new law is free coronavirus testing for all Americans, even if uninsured. When an uninsured worker needs care though, they’d likely still be on the hook.
Sixteen million workers did not have health insurance at the time of the 2018 American Com- munity Survey, according to the Census Bureau. That’s 10 percent of all workers. This coverage gap is a critical difference between the U.S. health-care system and that of other industrialized coun- tries like Canada, which guaran- tees care for all its citizens.
Ten percent of American work- ers are uninsured, but some pub- lic-facing occupations have much higher uninsurance rates.
Forty percent of uninsured workers are in occupations that involve serving the general pub- lic and close physical contact with others, according to the Occupational Information Net- work. For instance, more than 1.7 million sales workers and 600,000 health-care support workers are uninsured.
For workers who have already been laid off, the most important aid is likely to come in “phase 3” of the government’s coronavirus response. That’s the proposal that could send direct payments of $1,000 or more to all Ameri- cans regardless of employment status. Until that becomes law, unemployed workers are doing what they can to get by.
“I’m hoping I can make it through on food stamps and hoping the city government will do something to address rent,” said Chad, a waiter who spoke to The Washington Post about be- ing laid off. “If the worst happens …Ican’tgothereyet.Ihaveto take it as it comes.”
Workers that interact with the most people often don’t have sick leave
Each figure represents about 100,000 workers
Many essential employees are also uninsured
Grocery and general merchandise businesses too large for workers to gain sick leave
No paid sick Paid sick May be exempt from leave requirement leave required paid leave
No access to paid sick leave
Food and accommodations
Nearly two in three do not have paid sick leave.
More than one in three do not have paid sick leave.
Healthcare and social assistance
Nearly one in six do not have paid sick leave.
Source: Census Bureau
Access to paid sick leave
No health insurance coverage
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
Nearly one in three
More than one in four
Waiters and waitresses
More than one in five
Nearly one in six
Nearly one in seven
With health insurance coverage
No paid sick leave requirement Large companies with 500 or more employees
Paid sick leave required Companies with 50 to
May be exempt from paid sick leave Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees
Note: Includes employees at privately owned businesses in the following industries: gas stations, general merchandise stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, day care, dry cleaning and laundry services, commercial banks, and veterinary services.
Source: Census Bureau
The broad aim of the sick leave law was to make sure that work- ers infected with the virus would stay home without losing their income. This was especially im- portant for workers in fields with lots of contact with customers or at-risk individuals.
Nationwide, 16 percent of pri- vate industry workers did not have paid sick leave in 2018. That
figure was much higher for cer- tain vulnerable industries.
However, even employees with paid sick leave worry about their exposure risks from customers. Alayna, an assistant manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her job, said that the hardware stores are busier than ever, but employees
Ex: CVS, Walgreens
Ex: Shell, Exxon
Child day care
Commercial banks and credit unions Ex: Chase, Citibank
Ex: Giant, Safeway
General merchandise Ex: Target, Walmart
Large companies with 500 or more employees
Companies with 50 to 499 employeees
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees
More than one in 10
156K 1.3M workers
The latest advice about avoiding the Coronavirus involves the new term “Social Distancing”, which is another way of saying to”‘keep your ass at home if you don’t feel well.” I don’t understand the need to invent a new catchphrase for this action, but I gave up trying to understand the media many years ago.
Some of the advice does make sense. I am diabetic and I know that affects my immune system to a degree. This makes me more vulnerable to something like the Coronavirus, although I hate to admit that I am just a mere mortal after all. Therefore, it makes sense for me to limit what I do and where I go while this virus is running rampant. Neither Hal not myself will be eating out for the foreseeable future because being in a closed environment is exactly what I need to avoid. The same goes for attending the movies. We can watch most things at home.
The real reason I started to write this post is because there are so many people who are already “Socially Distant” and live in an insular world. I fear that many of these people will withdraw even further from the outside and create “Social Isolation”. We all know someone like this, the people who seem to cringe at any social interaction on a face to face basis. Try starting a conversation with someone on a bus or train or in an elevator even without the Coronavirus threat, and see how many people will visibly shrink away. These are the people who are at risk for “social isolation” and they might never recover from this shock caused by the Coronavirus.
Is there anything that we can do? I would suggest using your phone to actually call someone and speak to them rather than email or text. If at all possible, get out when you can and meet with other people in a safe and responsible manner until the crisis has passed. After that, keep on fighting “social isolation”. The worst thing that can happen is that you will be rejected. This is something that happens to us all, perhaps you aren’t the right person to reach out to that individual. Perhaps that person is just an asshole that no one can reach. At least you will have tried, and your conscience will be at ease moving forward.
POLITICS 03/11/2020 01:34PM EDT
Senate GOP Blocks Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill From Moving Forward
The legislation put forth by Democrats would guarantee 14 days of paid leave for workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Democrats hoping to pass an emergency paid sick leave bill to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus were stymied by Senate Republicans on Wednesday.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) tried to speed the measure up for a vote on the Senate floor through a procedural maneuver, but an objection from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) prevented the bill from bypassing the Republican-controlled health committee.
Murray noted that many people who don’t have paid leave through their jobs will inevitably miss work due to being sick or quarantined in the coming weeks. She argued that guaranteed paid leave was important both for public health and the good of the broader economy.
“For many of our workers ― restaurant workers, truck drivers, service industry workers ― they may not have an option to take a day off without losing their pay or losing their job,” Murray said. “That’s not a choice we should be asking anyone to make in the United States in the 21st century.”
Alexander said that paid sick leave is a “good idea.” But if lawmakers want to require employers to provide it, then the federal government should have to foot the bill, he argued.
“Employees are struggling, our employers are struggling, and it’s not a cure for the coronavirus to put a big new expensive federal mandate on employers who are struggling in the middle of this matter,” Alexander said.
Although the bill is bottled up for now, Democrats could try to attach the measure to another legislative package aimed at dealing with the virus.
Democrats proposed the emergency legislation in both chambers last week. The bill sponsored by Murray in the Senate and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in the House would immediately guarantee workers 14 days of paid sick leave in the event of a public health emergency like the current one. Workers would separately accrue up to seven sick days over the course of a year under the bill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people stay home from work if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Under the Democratic bill, workers could use the 14 emergency sick days if their workplace or their child’s school is closed, or if they or a family member ends up quarantined.
Many states already have sick leave mandates on the books, including California and Murray’s home state of Washington, both of which have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus. But unlike in most other developed countries, there is no federal law requiring employers to give workers paid time off when they’re sick.
The outbreak has brought unprecedented public attention to the lack of a mandate in the U.S. Seventy-three percent of private sector workers have paid sick leave, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the remaining 27% who don’t have it, many are concentrated in lower-wage service jobs like retail and fast food.
– Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Some companies have moved to institute more generous policies amid the criticism stirred up by the coronavirus emergency. Darden Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse chains, recently announced that all its hourly employees would now start accruing sick leave. The company has previously opposed legislative mandates on sick days.
Democrats have been trying to pass sick leave measures for years and have succeeded in the House. But the GOP majority in the Senate has prevented such bills from coming up for a vote, arguing that small businesses cannot withstand the cost increases of sick leave.
Murray’s emergency bill was all but certain to die in the Senate, but the measure still afforded Democrats an opportunity to put Republicans on the record in opposing it. Polling shows that the idea of a sick leave mandate tends to be extremely popular, with even a strong majority of Republican voters supporting it.
This post has been updated with Alexander’s remarks.
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I’ve seen all of this before. The same shitty plot line and the same shitty attack scenarios. The same anointing of the corporate candidate who simply cannot lose.
I’ve seen all of this before. The undying attacks to keep the candidate that the people care about and want. The constant attacks against those who support this candidate. The tragedy is that all of this is coming from the same side. The Orange Nazi and his Christi-Fascists don’t have to worry about destroying their opposition because the corporate democrats are all too happy to do it for them.
I’ve seen all of this before. The corporate media will follow the dictates of their corporate masters and participate in the attacks and attempts to destroy the candidate they cannot control. The voice of the people will be drowned out by the deafening noise to promote the lame ass corporate candidate. Interestingly, without that industrial corporate noise machine, their candidate is usually greeted with a wall of silence.
I’ve seen all of this before. The candidate of the people will be pushed away. The voice of the people will be ignored. And yet, the corporate masters will still flood us with requests for money. This business model is straight out of “Goodfellas“. When the corporate candidate cannot deliver the election, we all know that the people’s candidate and his supporters will be blamed. I’ve seen all of this before.
“Children of the Corn” was an awful 1980s film about children taking over and murdering their parents and then living undiscovered until some naive travelers accidentally stumbled into town with car trouble.
2020 version of “Children of the Corn” involves the Democratic Party in the state of Iowa. Apparently they are incapable of holding their own weird and warped political caucuses without adult supervision. “Technical Inconsistencies” is a meaningless phrase. If the computer systems were hacked, then say so. That would be a criminal act. If the computer systems were not hacked, then say so. That would be criminal stupidity.
I hate the American Nazis and their leader Der RumpenFuhrer with every fiber of my body. I despair that he and his Nazi hordes will win again because the “opposition” party is either criminally negligent or criminally stupid. I have my own special brand of hatred for the Democrats because they lack that essential element of courage. They are afraid to confront the Nazis, in fact, they refuse to invoke the name of Nazis when referring to Trump and his ilk even though the statement that Trump and the RepubliKKKan party are Nazis is true.
Bullies are dealt with by responding directly and forcefully to their threats. Punching them in the mouth shuts them up 99% of the time. Punching them in the mouth a second time covers the other 1%.
Learn a lesson, Democrats. Quit being pussies, get your shit together and fight. Otherwise, get out of the way so the people can fight back against the Nazis.
I watched this TED Talk and thought you would find it interesting.
David R. Williams: How racism makes us sick
Learn more about watching TED Talks on all of your favorite platforms: https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks/ways-to-get-ted-talks