Corporate profits

Republicans again value corporate profits over working women and men

Aldon hynes

It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to highlight the impact of the Republican Party war on the working class, but now that it is here, the real consequences of their pampering big business are evident. Along with the health threat from the coronavirus, workers now also have to worry about the economic consequences of staying home sick without pay. That’s why the coronavirus economic relief bill introduced by House Democrats called for paid sick leave.

But always attentive to the interests of companies rather than those of workers, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration have hesitated and demanded that companies with more than 500 employees be exempted. With hardship exemptions for small businesses with less than 50 employees, the benefit could exclude up to 80 percent of workers. While many large employers offer sick leave, not all do, and few offer the 10 days or more needed to deal with recovery times from coronaviruses. Other large employers have announced temporary changes to grant sick leave during the current crisis, but still refuse to offer the benefit consistently.

When the economic security of millions of hourly workers is threatened in unprecedented ways, it is scandalous that Republican leaders are more concerned about corporate profits – already fattened by their $ 1,000 billion tax cut in 2017 – than for the welfare of ordinary Americans.

At a time when we desperately need to “flatten the curve” to reduce the demands on America’s healthcare system that will be stretched beyond its breaking point, low-wage workers will be faced with the untenable decision to report for work. sick or stay home without paying.

Meanwhile, hypocrites like Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who, as state lawmaker, backed a bill to ban Florida cities and counties from demanding paid sick leave. , left the job in quarantine with full pay and no risk of being fired.

Quite simply, Republicans continue to protect billionaire companies rather than the workers who generate their profits. As Rep. Rosa DeLaura (D-3rd District) noted, “It should not – and should not – take a pandemic to provide workers with the economic relief and stability they need.”

Only among the developed world, the United States does not have a national paid sick leave law because corporate lobbyists like the United States Chamber of Commerce consistently oppose it, encouraged by Republican leaders. like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who call him part of a Democratic “ideological wishlist”.

While 12 states and the District of Colombia require paid sick leave (Connecticut being the first to do so in 2011), the trend has been reversed in Republican-controlled state legislatures. Not satisfied with blocking state-level laws requiring paid sick leave, 22 Republican governors banned municipalities in their states from requiring paid sick leave, pushed by the Koch brothers and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

Conservative lawmakers and corporate lobbyists are blocking paid sick leave at the expense of public health. A recent study found that requiring paid sick leave reduced flu cases by 11% in the first year after the law was implemented. Considering that the flu kills 12,000 to over 50,000 Americans each year, corporate greed and the GOP’s opposition to paid sick leave is very likely killing Americans. The impact may be magnified, as the lowest-paid workers who are most likely not to have paid sick leave are more likely to be in jobs with above-average contact with the public, such as workers. catering, of which four out of five do not. have paid sick leave.

Opponents of paid sick leave claim it is too costly for employers. The argument lacks merit. There are many companies that look out for their employees and customers and manage to make a profit. A recent working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that paid sick leave, on average, costs only three cents per hour worked.

In 2017, President Trump and the GOP imposed a tax cut that led to a record $ 800 billion in share buybacks by newly cash-strapped companies. But require paid sick leave costing less than half a percent of the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25? Death on arrival.

Jonathan Perloe lives in Greenwich.

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