With all the tumult and fire of the American presidential election season currently being focused on Donald Trump and his often delusional and downright bizarre statements on immigration, one of the key policy battlegrounds of the campaign so far is being neglected: the fight for the American worker.
As I mentioned in my last post, there is currently no statutory right for the American father to have paid paternity leave from work, something some candidates on the Democratic side, such as Hillary Clinton want to change. Another quite surprising omission is the failure to provide via law paid sick leave, which is currently not guaranteed at a national level, although it is provided in three states and in a handful of cities.
Hillary Clinton has proposed the founding of a $1 billion a year innovation fund to encourage states to set up family leave and paid leave policies. The former first lady and senator for New York has also cosponsored legislation on numerous occasions to provide seven paid sick days a year to American workers.
President Obama is very much on the same page and he has been a strong supporter of worker’s rights since he took office in 2009. In fact one of the first pieces of legislation he signed when he came into office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pair Act. In his 2015 State of the Union address Obama announced that he intended to take action to ‘help states adopt paid leave laws of their own’. He then went on to call on the US congress to “send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave.”
The problem with this is that the Republican controlled Congress has, time and again, proved it is unwilling to work with Obama on, well, practically every issue set before it, but on this issue there is a chink of light. In March the Healthy Families Act, which would allow American families those seven days of sick leave gained a surprise bipartisan vote of confidence in the senate. That doesn’t mean that paid sick leave is now law, the vote was on a budget resolution, which is not binding, however the vote was symbolic, suggesting that this is an issue were progress can be made.
However, every Republican senator who is currently running for president, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, voted against the paid sick leave amendment. And, of those Republicans running who are not senators most indicators suggest that they would be firmly against the idea, although most have not yet set out a position. This is not necessarily because Republicans are against extending worker’s rights, rather they are in favour, in the style of Ronald Reagan, of reducing the power and reach of government and would never back the government installing a law that forced, via the law, businesses to allow paid sick leave.
Read more about America’s attitude towards paid paternity leave here: http://hrreview.co.uk/blogs/blogs-diversity-equality/the-view-from-america-the-u-s-s-nonexistent-parental-leave/60264