Friday, August 23, 2013

United Slavery States of America

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” - Tolstoy.

People wake up, rush to get ready for work; and then at the end of the day, they grab some fast food and watch something on TV while they are eating, and then they fall asleep. Then they get up and do it all again.

A study in 2011 reported that 70 percent of employees said they were NOT taking their full entitlement of vacation days. Americans work almost five weeks more a year than our contemporaries in Europe. Family leave is still unpaid under federal law.

The employers’ lobbies are working hard to scuttle paid sick days legislation coming out of states and cities. In Florida the restaurant industry and  big theme parks lobbied hard for the passage of the legislation that banned local governments from requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. Working behind the scenes in this campaign is a familiar foe of employee rights, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose membership includes a range of major corporations and industry groups. The corporate-funded organization's model "preemption" legislation—disallowing municipalities from enacting their own paid leave laws—have been introduced by state legislators around the country. In 2008, Milwaukee residents overwhelmingly passed a referendum requiring local employers to provide workers an hour of accrued sick leave for every 30 hours they worked. The local chamber of commerce sprang to action and sued to prevent the law from taking effect, and then tied it up in court for the next three years. A state court eventually ruled that the ordinance could take effect, but in May 2011, Republican governor Walker signed into law a preemption bill like Florida's that overrode Milwaukee's ordinance and prevented any other local jurisdictions in the state from passing their own paid sick leave measures.  Since then, sick leave preemption bills have been introduced in 12 other states, and passed in 8 of them, including Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

 Nearly 40% (almost 40 million) of workers in the private sector do not receive paid sick leave. The United States does not currently require that employees have access to paid sick days to address their own short-term illnesses or the short-term illness of a family member. The U.S. does guarantee unpaid leave for serious illnesses through the Family and Medical Leave Act . This law covers employers with more than 50 workers and, within those businesses, covers employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months prior to taking the leave. New York recently joined the short list of cities—Portland, San Francisco, Washington and Seattle—plus the state of Connecticut in passing a law to provide workers with paid sick time. The U.S is the only major industrialized nation without a national paid sick-leave policy.  Some 145 countries provide paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed to the lack of paid sick leave as a major public health threat, because people who work while sick are responsible for a high number of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses. A recent CDC study found that sick workers were responsible for more than half and possibly as much as 80 percent of all norovirus (stomach flu) outbreaks. In 2008, a norovirus outbreak that left more than 500 people violently ill was traced to a single sick worker at an Ohio Chipotle. Nonetheless, the food-service industry has been an aggressive paid sick leave opponent.

Juliet Schor, who wrote “The Overworked American” in 1992, concluded that in 1990 Americans worked an average of nearly one month more per year than in 1970. Little has changedsince then,  if in fact not become actually worse.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics report said more than 25 million Americans — 20.5 percent of the total workforce — reported they worked at least 49 hours a week in 1999. Eleven million of those said they worked more than 59 hours a week.

The United States is the only advanced economy that does not require employers to provide paid vacation time. Almost 1-in-4 Americans do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays, trailing far behind most of the rest of the world’s developed nations, according to a report the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

 John Schmitt, senior economist and co-author of the report, said “Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn’t worked.”

Capitalism can be defined as the exploitation of resources. The ultimate human resource is people and the exploitation of  their labor is slavery. This is a logical goal and result of capitalism.

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