NC JUSTICE NEWS: Paid Sick Leave for All + How NC Can Create an Innovation Economy + Medicaid Day of Action

July 14, 2015

PAID SICK LEAVE: Legislators looking at two new pro-family policies

It’s great that lawmakers are able to take time off during a busy work schedule to care for their families. But when lawmakers return to Raleigh this week from a much-needed July 4th vacation, it’s important to remember that too many North Carolinians can’t get time off just when they need it most—like when they get sick, or when they need to care for a newborn, or stay home with a sick grandparent.

Everyone gets sick or sees a loved one fall ill, but North Carolina’s outdated employment laws don’t allow workers to earn paid sick days or receive legal protections when taking extended family and medical leave to care for sick family members.

North Carolina lawmakers have introduced two different legislative packages aimed at correcting these glaring anti-family policies. The Healthy Families & Workplaces/Paid Sick Days Act (HB 270 and SB 339) would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for up to four days for leave for employees of small businesses and up to seven days for employees of medium and larger businesses. The Caregiver Relief Act (HB 269/SB 337) Act expands eligibility for federal Family and Medical Leave Act-protected unpaid family medical leave to include care of siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step parents and parents in law.

Passing pro-family policies that would expand family medical leave and offer the opportunity to earn paid sick days would benefit businesses and workers alike, speakers said. Evidence from other states has shown that family-friendly policies of this nature reduce employee turnover, limit costs to business, and promote public health.

MEDICAID EXPANSION: Statewide day of action to be held on Thursday, July 16

The North Carolina Medicaid Expansion Coalition, which is working toward extending health coverage to 500,000 low-income uninsured North Carolinians in our state, is hosting a statewide day of action to encourage Governor McCrory to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s estimated that over 1,000 North Carolinians will die each year as a result of not having health insurance. Lives are quite literally on the line, but Governor McCrory and our state lawmakers are playing politics while time is running out for some North Carolinians. Most North Carolinians who would be covered by expanding the program are adults who are employed and work in retail, food preparation, hospitality, service industries, and agriculture. North Carolina’s economy relies heavily on these individuals and they deserve to have access to the preventative care they need and to be able to see a doctor when they get sick.

Events will be held across the state on Thursday, July 16. We'll see you in Raleigh for this historic event!

  • Asheville, July 16th at 12:15pm, Minnie Jones Health Center (WNCCHS), 257 Biltmore Ave; PARKING at McCormack Field, 30 Buchanan Pl, upper or lower lot
  • Charlotte, July 16th at 12:15pm, Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St
  • Fayetteville, July 16th at 12:15pm, Cumberland County Courthouse, 117 Dick St
  • Greensboro, July 16th at 10:45am, Beloved Community Center, 417 Arlington St
  • Greenville, July 16th at 10:45am, Tipsy Teapot, 409 Evans St #B
  • Raleigh, July 16th at 10:45am, State Capitol, 1 E Edenton St

Click here for different ways to participate in the day of action even if you can't be at one of the events in person. A phone call or even changing your Facebook or Twitter photo for the day could make all the difference.

INNOVATION ECONOMY: How innovative states had stronger economic growth

North Carolina currently faces an important choice between two different paths for creating jobs and strengthening the economy. One would make the state a research and commercial hub rivaling Silicon Valley and the Boston’s Route 128 corridor and the other would emphasize low taxes and lax regulation.

Governor McCrory often emphasizes the innovation-driven strategy, calling for North Carolina to become the third “vertex of innovation” through proposals that would build on decades of public investment in education as well as partnerships between research institutions and the private sector. However, the state also continues to reduce taxes, particularly for the wealthiest North Carolinians, and ask less of large, profitable multinational corporations when it comes to paying for public services.

Innovation centers have both outdone North Carolina and our neighbors to the south in the aftermath of the recession. Massachusetts had 4.1 percent more jobs in February of 2015 than it did at the end of 2007, and even California, which was slammed particularly hard by the collapse of the housing market, has managed to get employment back to 3.4 percent above the pre-recession level. Both states also became centers of innovation through fostering world-class research institutions, public support for research and development, venture capital, welcoming new immigrants, creating a highly educated workforce, and enabling high employee mobility.

Unfortunately, cutting taxes here in North Carolina has already scaled back of precisely the kinds of investment that are needed to compete with the Bostons and Silicon Valleys of the world. The Governor’s goal of seeing North Carolina join California and Massachusetts at the cutting edge is a very good sign, but another round of cuts, as proposed in the legislature this year, would push the state in the opposite direction.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: Caring for Caregivers with Rep. Yvonne Holley

Like the rest of the nation, North Carolina is quickly aging. Within 35 years, the population over age 65 is projected to more than double. There is a rapidly growing need for direct care to allow community members to continue living with dignity.

Unfortunately, recruiting and retaining skilled people to do this work is increasingly difficult. Though it includes some of the state’s fastest growing occupations, direct-care work offers some of the lowest wages in the state. As a result, too many home-care workers don’t make enough to afford the basics like groceries, rent and transportation — leading to increased turnover of caregivers and disrupted care for seniors.

So what can be done? Are there public policy changes able to address these problems? And how can grassroots activists get involved? Join NC Policy Watch as we pose these and other questions to a panel of experts that includes state Rep. Yvonne Holley and Allan Freyer, director of the Workers’ Rights Project of the North Carolina Justice Center, as well as directly impacted community members. The luncheon will also feature a video of remarks President Obama will deliver at the July 13 White House Conference on Aging.

The lunch will be held on Monday, July 20, at noon at the North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27601. Pre-registration is required but thanks to a generous donor, this luncheon is free of charge. Please select the $0.00 event fee on the registration page before checkout.

 

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