NC JUSTICE NEWS: Unemployment Benefits + Workplace Policies + Corporate Tax Dodging

December 13, 2011

A Message from NC Justice Center Executive Director Melinda Lawrence

North Carolina suffered some damaging blows this year. Yes, there were tornadoes and a hurricane, but the most widespread destruction originated on Jones Street in Raleigh.

As state legislators took aim at families and workers, the NC Justice Center served as a storm shelter, protecting many vital services and programs upon which workers, children and North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities depend.

We fended off a great deal of damage. The elimination of Personal Education Plans for at-risk students, the weakening of the state Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, the undermining of critical consumer protections – all of these detrimental policy proposals were prevented thanks to the work of the Justice Center’s staff.

In 2012, we will need your support. The economic downturn has taken a toll on the Justice Center, and we need significant new funding so we can work to rebuild the public structures that took such a beating this year.

Please click here and donate to the Justice Center today. We will stand strong and move forward through this storm, but we can only do so with your support.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Bill to slash benefits across U.S.

It was bad enough knowing that the vital lifeline to federal unemployment insurance is set to expire December 31st, affecting nearly 70,000 North Carolinians in January alone.

Now national lawmakers are pushing a bill that would slash the federal benefits program, cutting weeks of available benefits across the country, and worst of all, saving the worst cuts for states suffering from the highest unemployment. HR 3630 would cut 40 weeks of federal benefits in the highest unemployment states, and between 20 and 33 weeks elsewhere. At minimum, 14 weeks of federal benefits would be cut in every single state.

The bill’s disturbing stipulations don’t end there. HR 3630 would also allow states to impose mandatory drug-testing on individuals seeking or receiving unemployment insurance, and actually remove money from jobless workers’ weekly benefits to pay for reemployment services.

No one has been left unaffected by the Great Recession. Older workers, veterans, and men and women alike have struggled to find work and depend on unemployment benefits to get by during these trying times. Lawmakers need to hear from everyday citizens that HR 3630 and the expiration of unemployment benefits is simply unacceptable and will only prolong the suffering of countless individuals. Check out the National Employment Law Project’s latest petition, and tell your Representative and Senators to oppose this toxic bill and support the renewal of the federal unemployment insurance program.

WORK-FAMILY BALANCE: Policies should support working families

It seems that North Carolina currently has 20th Century workplace policies for a 21st Century workforce.

A new report from the NC Justice Center shows that today’s workplace policies were created for a labor force that does not exist. In turn, working families and caregivers have become some of the state’s most vulnerable workers.

The report finds that it’s essential to the health of the state’s families, workforce, and businesses to consider policy solutions that offer support for working families and individuals who provide care to friends and relatives. There are currently 1.2 million caregivers providing care for an adult family member, partner, or friend suffering from illness – a number that will only increase as Baby Boomers age and dramatically expand the number of households with individuals over the age of 65. Caregivers are providing care while working at a paying job, the report says, without any supports in the workplace such as paid sick time. Most disconcertingly, nearly half of all private-sector workers in North Carolina lack a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a family member.

Work-family policies can help increase employee productivity and reduce turnover, and thus costs, for businesses. It’s time that policymakers establish a comprehensive work-family policy agenda that consider a minimum number of paid sick days, a state-based family leave insurance program to ensure medical leave for families, and flexible workplace schedules.

CORPORATE TAX DODGING: Enact mandatory combined reporting

Bad news came to North Carolina last week in the form of a report from Citizens for Tax Justice, showing that 265 consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies avoided paying an estimated $42.7 billion in state corporate income taxes over 3 years. The report proved that over the last two decades, corporations have become remarkably creative in figuring out schemes to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

The result? Fewer dollars to invest in schools, roads and safe, healthy communities. These corporations should be contributing to these public investments that make North Carolina such an appealing place to do business. But if corporations don’t contribute their fair share, it will be working families that will ultimately pay.

There is a silver lining. Policymakers in North Carolina could help crack down on corporate tax dodging by requiring corporations to pay taxes on profits earned in states where they do business through something called “mandatory combined reporting.” This would level the playing field between locally-owned and multi-state corporations, and raise up to $100 million each year in North Carolina, providing instrumental funding to hire classroom teachers and preserve health services for our most vulnerable citizens who have been threatened by recent state budget cuts.

By signing this petition, you’ll be telling state lawmakers that it’s time to put North Carolinians first. Tell them to enact mandatory combined reporting, make sure that corporations pay their fair share, and create a tax system that is fairer, simpler, and better for North Carolina’s citizens and businesses.

BUILDING A STRONGER NC: Interactive sessions across NC

This year, United Way and the NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, are once again teaming up to share the story of the economy and state budget. Through interactive sessions across North Carolina entitled “Building a Stronger North Carolina,” communities will be given the opportunity to respond and help write the next chapter in this ever-changing story.

Attendants will be encouraged to ask and answer a variety of questions, such as:

  • How have the state budget and the economy impacted your community?
  • What budget trends are developing, and how long will it take for NC to recover from the Great Recession?
  • Is NC falling behind in areas like Education, Health and Public Safety?
  • How can you impact the issues you care most about?
  • How can you join with others to focus your local advocacy for the greatest outcome?

There will be three events held this upcoming week. On Wednesday, December 14, both Rocky Mount and Elizabeth City will play host to two community conversation events. Join United Way and the NC Budget & Tax Center in Rocky Mount at the Edgecombe Community College Auditorium, 225 Tarboro Street, from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. Click here for more information about the Rocky Mount event. From 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, the event will move to Elizabeth City, at the College of the Albemarle's Small Business Center in the John Wood Foreman Building, Room 121. Click here for more information about this event.

On Thursday, December 15, community members are invited to Fayetteville Technical Community College's Center for Business and Industry, Room 129, at 2723 Ft. Bragg Road in Fayetteville from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Registration is still open for the Fayetteville event.

There will also be events in January in Raleigh, Durham, and Orange County. Check out this flyer for all of the details, and keep an eye out for updates in future newsletters.

 

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