Local Politics

Supporters rally in Raleigh for paid sick leave

Posted March 4, 2009

— Advocates of a bill that would provide paid sick leave for the more than 1 million workers statewide who do not have it held a rally in Raleigh Wednesday to gather support.

The bill was introduced in the state House of Representatives last month. Wednesday morning, supporters of the bill gathered at the State Capitol to rally.

About 1.6 million workers in the state do not have paid sick leave, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty-two percent of those workers are in the private sector.

The bill would guarantee all workers in large companies or agencies up to 56 hours, or seven eight-hour days, of paid sick time per year. Employers with fewer than 10 workers would have to provide up to 32 hours of paid sick time.

Workers would earn an hour of paid leave for every 30 hours' of work.

Advocates with the North Carolina Justice Center say people coming to work while sick is a cost to public health.

“The folks who disproportionately lack paid sick days are the very folks who are cooking our food and serving it to us … working in hospitals and doctors' offices and in our child care centers taking care of our kids,” said NC Paid Sick Days Campaign coordinator Louisa Warren, who is also with the N.C. Justice Center.

The Justice Center is among more than 30 groups, including AARP North Carolina and ACORN North Carolina, that support the bill.

Paul Stone, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, said his group opposes the bill. The costs to provide paid sick leave to all employees would ultimately hurt businesses like restaurants and hotels, which operate on thin profit margins, particularly in these tough economic times, Stone said.

Brett McGinnis, a bartender for nearly 20 years, said he has never had a day of paid sick leave.

“You basically find somebody to cover your shift and hope that it doesn’t last for more than a couple of days,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis works at newly opened restaurant, The Flying Biscuit Café, in Raleigh, which employs about 50 people.

“We allow them to call off. We just don’t pay them,” The Flying Biscuit Café part-owner Todd Keller said.

Keller said he thinks the bill is a good idea but will ultimately hurt a lot of small businesses.

“Morally, yes, I would love to be able to offer my employees those kinds of benefits. It’d be great. They deserve it. But financially, I don’t think it’s possible,” Keller said.

Keller said he'd have to pass the costs on to customers by raising prices.

Advocates say offering paid sick days would benefit the employer by making employees more loyal and more productive when they have time to recover.

The proposed bill covers people in incorporated businesses.

The bill would not cover babysitters, lawn mowers or housekeepers unaffiliated with a corporation. Agricultural workers would also not be guaranteed paid sick leave.

Nurse’s aides and hospice-care workers would be covered because their health directly affects the health of their patients.


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  • Bendal1 Mar 5, 2009

    I wonder how many people here ranting about "paying people to not work" have either paid sick or vacation leave at their job, and would scream bloody murder if it was taken away from them.

  • Tax Man Mar 4, 2009

    There should be NO minimum wage and no required benefits. If an employer wants to offer them to attract better employees, that is fine - if an employer does not want to offer anything at all, that is also fine. You do not have to accept a job - it is your choice. Go work for the employer that offers more - if an employer cannot compete they will change on their own - the government has no part in any of this. Keep the government out of business - all the government knows how to do is tax, spend and waste - and set dumb public policies that cost more money. You should get the benefits and pay that are commensurate with your skills - if you can make an employer some money he/she will share it with you - so many employees just expect everything when they are lazy and have nothing to offer. You get paid what you are worth - and maybe that is nothing! Surely you should not be paid for not being at work!

  • colliedave Mar 4, 2009

    This is an excellent idea!! I hope this passes, and I would also like to see the minimum wage increased to $11.00/hour.

    Why not $110 an hour? Or, $1100 an hour? Your comment shows what happens when people aren't taught basic economics!

  • rand321 Mar 4, 2009

    Can we all charge higher prices for the costs of these plans? What people do not realize in the states with high unions, government mandated benefits, their economies are in much worse shape than NC and the nation as a whole. Can we say CA and MI?

    These costs will be passed along to the consumers and customers. Where they cannot the business will close or relocat to a lower cost area (overseas??). Employee pay does not happen in a vacuum. Any additional income is more than offset by higher costs for items, taxed and the like.

    As callous as it sounds, the solution is called personal savings. do we forget the story about the ant and the grasshopper we learned in kindergarten.

  • arfamr1005 Mar 4, 2009

    government in action trying to give people something for nothing again...if I employed someone that went to that rally I'd fire them!! If they don't like it they should quit and find a "better" job

  • DrJ Mar 4, 2009

    If my business were affected by this legislation, you can bet your bottom I'd require every "sick" day to be certified by a doctor's note.

  • discowhale Mar 4, 2009

    I've had jobs with and without sick time. It was MY decision to take those jobs, I knew the benefits before I started working.

    If you don't make enough money, don't have any sick time, go back to school, you probably qualify for school money to do so. If you make enough money, pay your own way, make your situation better. If you don't have the intestinal "ooomph" do this, welcome to the bottom.

    No future, Low pay, NO SICK DAYS!!!

    You're not a slave, quit, find a better gig! Jeez!!

    I've tried repeatedly to hire people for $10 an hr cash. I run a kettle korn concession, or did anyway. You'd be surprised at the number of people who walk off after a few hours, to never return, without their pay.

    "I'm Too hot", "This is Too hard", " ...are we REALLY going to work until this festival ends tonight? I wanted to go walk around."

    That's the employers take on employees.

    I expect those are the same people protesting. Something for nothing. We've all worked with them.

  • etshoney Mar 4, 2009

    This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If you want a job that pays benefits get an education and be the best and then you get to pick and choose. If the business wants the best they will have benefits. Get over it people. I guess the nursing home should HOPE not EVERYONE calls in sick on the same day never mind the cost. If you don't get paid you make SURE you can't work. People look at paid sick leave like vacation time with no schedule and no warning to the employer. Save it for a better time!

  • GWALLY Mar 4, 2009

    Posted.."Do not work for someone who says "I can't afford to offer sick time".

    I say..DO NOT HIRE SOMEONE that says....."I will need to be paid for my days off when I am sick and unable to perform my duties that you are asking (and paying me) to do"!!!

  • DougWare.NET Mar 4, 2009


    Why $11/hour? You can't raise a family of 8 and send them to college on $11/hour. Let's raise the minimum wage to $50/hour.

    Sheeshh....The minimum wage should be set by the market....not the government.