Florida Gov. Rick Scott delivered a harsh blow to Floridians when he signed a bill that stifles paid sick leave for workers. The bill that Scott signed favored big businesses in the state of Florida, which he justified by saying that the “bill fosters statewide uniformity, consistency and predictability in Florida’s employer-employee relationships.”
The bill was backed by the Republican, pro-corporation group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to pitch itself as a nonpartisan group only interested in protecting the free market, but the group has clearly chosen sides and favors the right. Nearly every penny of ALEC’s money is bankrolled by corporate giants like ExxonMobil, and the Koch brothers.
The group maintains close ties with America’s right-wing all stars; Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Gov. Rick Scott. By signing the bill, Scott bent over for Florida’s biggest industrial pilot, including Walt Disney World and Darden Restaurants, who owns chain restaurants Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
These companies think that making paid sick leave unavailable to workers will somehow save them money on labor costs. However, the City of San Francisco enacted legislation that guaranteed paid sick leave for workers. The results of which completely contradicted the claim that the companies in Florida were making about negative economic impact. Businesses in San Francisco actually experienced a small upswing in employment and suffered no financial losses.
This bill is another way for companies to attack low-wage workers who, already, aren’t guaranteed the best benefits, and the companies that employ these workers are able to cut labor hours at its own discretion. Of the more-developed countries in the world, American workers are treated the most poorly in many ways. America is the only country that doesn’t mandate its workers to take vacations and gets no amount of paid maternity leave.
The hopes of Florida workers have not gone dead in the water. After the Orange County Commission voted the bill off of a Nov. 6 ballot, a three-judge panel reversed the decision, now workers will have a chance to vote on the issue in 2014.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.