Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More late-breaking election news (some of it good)

Here's some more news on what happened in yesterday's election: 

Voters said yes to paid sick days in Massachusetts and several cities in New Jersey and California. According to CNN Money,
Businesses with at least 11 employees in Massachusetts now have to grant up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. The measure also bars employers from punishing workers for taking sick time. 
It's a huge victory for low-wage workers. 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 the Labor Department. Three quarters of part time employees are not paid when they miss work due to illness. Worse, some lose their jobs. 
In Massachusetts alone, the new law will benefit nearly 1 million workers who couldn't take sick time, according to a statement from Yes on Question 4, an advocacy group that campaigned for sick days in the state. 
In New Jersey, voters in Trenton and Montclair also backed a similar plan. A similar measure also passed in Oakland, Calif.
Jobs With Justice tells us the minimum wage was increased in five states:
In Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, voters called for a raise in the minimum wage. In California, residents of Oakland and San Francisco all voted to raise the wage for workers in their cities. And in Wisconsin, voters in nine counties and four cities all indicated it was time to raise the minimum wage.
The Center for Media and Democracy, however, warns us to watch out for ALEC:
...keep an eye out for bills promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) designed to crush that momentum and limit local control... 
Despite widespread, bipartisan public support on issues like the minimum wage and paid sick days, ALEC has conjured up an array of bills to thwart the ability of voters to have a say on economic justice measures. 
In 2006, ALEC adopted a "Resolution to Preserve the Legislative Process" warning specifically that the "determination of state minimum wage levels" should be left to legislators rather than voters. It has also called for a repeal of the minimum wage altogether. 
ALEC has long promoted a bill it calls the "Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act" to prohibit any city or county from enacting a wage higher than the state's minimum, and reapproved it in 2013. This bill was adopted in Oklahoma earlier this year, with Gov. Mary Fallin (an ALEC alum) signing it into law. 
And in the three years since a paid sick days preemption bill enacted by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was shared at ALEC's August 2011 meeting, eleven states -- all controlled by Republicans -- have blocked voters or local governments from enacting paid sick day laws.
Some random news: