Obama To Sign Executive Order On Paid Sick Days



President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order on Labor Day requiring that federal contractors provide their employees with paid sick leave, the latest in a string of executive actions aimed at raising the bar in the U.S. workplace. 

According to the White House, the order will give roughly 300,000 workers under federal contracts up to seven paid sick days per year. Workers will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. The rules will start with new federal contracts signed starting in 2017.

“Many parents are forced to choose between taking an unpaid day off work — losing much needed income and potentially threatening their jobs — and sending a sick child who should be home in bed to school,” the White House said in a statement.

Although most U.S. workers do receive paid sick days through their jobs, roughly 39 percent of private-sector workers do not, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The workers who don’t have paid sick leave are disproportionately employed in low-wage industries like restaurants and retail.

The White House has named expanding paid leave as one of its top priorities. After the president highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address in January, The Huffington Post pointed out that if the president wanted to bring paid leave to more workers, the easiest way to do so would be to issue an executive order like the one slated to be signed Monday. Last month, The New York Times reported that a draft of an executive order related to sick leave was circulating at the Labor Department.

The executive branch has a long history of using its contracting power to influence labor policy in the private sector, stretching back at least to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Obama administration has grown aggressive with the tactic over the past two years. It issued an executive order setting a minimum wage of $10.10 under federal contracts, and another that effectively strips federal contracts from firms found to have committed wage theft.

In announcing the executive order, the White House also called on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation guaranteeing sick days for workers. Unlike most developed nations, the U.S. does not have a law requiring businesses to offer employees paid sick leave. Democrats have sponsored sick-leave legislation but it has gone nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Family Values @ Work, a leading advocacy group on the issue, praised the White House for the executive order. “Such a move is precisely the government’s role: to create model standards for the rest of the country to follow and to make sure taxpayer dollars are used wisely,” said Ellen Bravo, the group’s director.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a lobby for small businesses, wasn’t as keen on the announcement. “Mandatory paid leave is a great benefit for workers whose employers offer it,” Jack Mozloom, the group’s director, said in a statement. “For workers whose employers can’t absorb the cost, it’s an arbitrary expense that will ultimately result in shorter hours, lower pay or disappearing jobs.”

Dave Jamieson

In concession to workers, Walmart will be adjusting thermostats, music, and pants

attribution: Inoyamanaka79/Wikimedia Commons


Good news, Walmart employees: The head office has heard your complaints. No, not about being paid horribly (some employees got a boost in pay earlier this week, but it’s still not what any rational person would consider a living wage), or being forced to work sporadic and unpredictable hours, or having to bring your own backroom supplies. But in response to the complaints over it being uncomfortably warm or cold in the stores, they will be overhauling Big Thermostat.

According to the New York Times, temperatures at stores in the East and central regions will rise to 75 degrees from 74. (In stores in the West, average temperatures will fall from 76 to 75.)

Note that the temperatures of all Walmart stores are controlled from Skynet the Walmart home office, because you don’t want to leave that sort of the thing in the hands of mere managers. But the good news doesn’t end there; in response to complaints about repetitive music being played on endless loops in some stores, Skynet the home office will also be consolidating music choices.

Wal-Mart is also changing the music in its stores and will have a DJ based in its corporate marketing department that will pick the music piped to all the stores.

I suspect this is less about placating workers complaining about “Celine Dion’s greatest hits on loop” and more about a realization that subjecting workers to 24/7 Celine Dion on loop when your store also sells guns and ammunition is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Also, there will be some poor sap in the world whose resume will soon read DJ, Walmart corporate marketing. They will never, ever live that down.

Other changes: You will soon be able to wear black pants in a variety of materials, but you will continue to pay for them yourselves. Walmart isn’t made of pants, you know.

All this comes right before Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting. Degrading sales and store conditions have been catching up to Walmart, and those things impact the bottom line so they’re the sort of things that get shareholders upset. These changes won’t solve those problems, but it appears they’re hoping to at least slow what has been inching perilously close to a full-scale worker revolt.


Newt Gingrich Owes African Americans an Apology

This article says it all and says it well…

Candid Observations

Newt Gingrich owes African-Americans an apology.

He absolutely knows what he is doing.

His constant calling President Obama “the food stamp president” is nothing more than racial politics, no less reprehensible or excusable than when Lee Atwater and the GOP used the image of Willie Horton to take down Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Gingrich has settled into the language that “liberals” or “elite liberals” are the only ones who “despise making money.” That is incorrect, but it isn’t a morally and ethically reprehensible statement or behavior.

But going to South Carolina and using language that feeds into the racial fears and misconceptions that come up in conversations with far too many white people, is a moral and ethical outrage.

Can you not get the votes, Mr. Gingrich, without putting black people down and feeding into the misconceptions of way too many white people?

Statistics released by the United States  Department of Agriculture show that 35 percent of all food stamp recipients are white, compared to 22 percent black, and 10 percent Hispanic. If  you, Mr. Gingrich, would saythat, or something to that effect, the insult you have heaped upon the descendants of African slaves who built this country would be non-existent.

I wonder if Gingrich, or any candidate, has the chutzpah to tell people part of the reason that the unemployment rate amongst black men, especially young black men, is that too many white employers still refuse to hire them? I wonder if Gingrich, a historian, has the courage to talk about the fact that black people have lived through an era where at one time, there were blatant signs put up, “Black (or Colored) people need not apply,” as African-Americans sought to find work?

The signs are gone, but the emotions, feelings and beliefs that made people feel justified in putting such signs up are far from being gone.

I wonder if Gingrich has the courage to stand up and say, since he is wanting to be president of ALL of the people of this nation, that the undercurrent racism of this country will be met with and dealt with in his administration if he is elected president, so that the course of this nation will be turned, finally, away from post-Civil War and Reconstruction white resentment of black people which has never died, to a 21st century,Christian endeavor to deal with our racism honestly, for the good of the nation.

Many, too many, white people say, and believe, that “this is a white man’s country.” In her book Rising Sun, author Sharon Davies gives an account of a young white girl who is appearing before a grand jury because she has converted to Catholicism, against the wishes of her parents. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was not only against black people and Jewish people, but it also hated Catholics. This young girl’s parents were amongst the Catholic-haters, and, enraged that his daughter had married a Catholic boy in secret, her father had shot and killed the priest who married them.

In her testimony before the Grand Jury, the young girl was asked if her husband was a white man (he was from Puerto Rico and was allowed, by Alabama state law, to say he was “white.”) When the girl said he was a Spaniard, the Grand Jury members scoffed, and one juror said, just remember, “this is a white man’s country…always has been and always will be.”

A young Hugo Black, who would become a member of the United States Supreme Court, was one of the girl’s defense attorneys …and he was also a member of the Klan, as were many of the jurors.

That feeling has not gone away and Newt knows it, and he thus knows that saying President Obama is “the food stamp president” feeds right into that belief and the sentiment that there is a need to “take the country” back. The charge is that Mr. Obama is the most liberal president in history. Say that. True or not, it’s fair. It is fair political rhetoric.

Say that it is true that more people are on food stamps than at any other time in our history, but that  statistics say  that more white than black people are on those food stamps, and they needed to do it because the economic mess that Mr. Obama inherited from the GOP was so horrible that had he not made a way for more people to get food stamps, a lot of Americans, black, white and brown, would have not been able to eat!

Make the argument against President Obama openly about economics, and not sneakily about race.

Americans who have found themselves not only using but needing food stamps for the first time in their lives are ashamed for having to use them, but at the same time are grateful that this president did what he thought would best help them.

It is true that some people, black and white, who receive government assistance, are abusing the system. Say that, Mr. Gingrich, and nobody will be able to accuse you of playing the race card or indulging in racial politics. When you say that President Obama is “the food stamp president,” say that his policies have resulted in more  black and white and brown people getting food stamps than ever before. Then your statement will not be racially charged and racially polarizing.

I know that politics, or the game of politics, is not supposed to be fair, but it is high time that racial politics stop being the trump card for politicians reaching for the White House. African-Americans, and indeed all Americans, deserve better.

African-Americans have provided the labor upon which the economy of this nation was built. It is high time white politicians say that out loud, and stop the craziness and stop using words that only make the decay in our nation caused by racism worse.

You, Mr. Gingrich, owe African-Americans an apology. It is NOT all right to insult us, even if you are trying to kick Mitt Romney out of contention for the presidency. What you are saying and are now defending, is morally and ethically wrong. We deserve better.

A candid observation …

20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker

Russ’ Filtered News gave us the very popular An Open Letter To Conservatives and Muslims In America: The Shocking TruthNow it seems Russ has done it again with his new post entitled: 20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker.

Here is an excerpt from Russ’ latest post:

We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but the level of deception and dishonesty Wisconsin’s governor has exhibited in the battle over his union-busting budget repair bill (even the name is a falsehood) sinks to astounding new lows.  What follows are the 20 lies I’ve identified in a quick review of the record.  If you find or recall others, please let me know.  We’ll keep updating.Walker: His bill is about fixing a budget crisis.

The truth: Even Fox News’ Shepherd Smith couldn’t swallow that one, declaring that it’s all about politics and union busting, and “to pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey.”

Walker: says he campaigned on his budget repair plan, including curtailing collective bargaining.

“We introduced a measure last week, a measure I ran on during the campaign, a measure I talked about in November during the transition, a measure I talked about in December when we fought off the employee contracts, an idea I talked about in the inauguration, an idea I talked about in the state of the state. If anyone doesn’t know what’s coming, they’ve been asleep for the past two years.”

The truth: Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the sketchiest outline of his far-reaching  plans to kill collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did.  In fact, he was caught on tape boasting to what he thought was his billionaire backer that he had “dropped the bomb.”

Walker: keeps saying that “almost all” of the protesters at the Capitol are from outside the state

The truth: “The vast majority of people protesting are from here — Wisconsin and even more from Dane County,” said Joel DeSpain, public information officer for the Madison Police Department.

Walker: He wants to negotiate.

The truth: He won’t negotiate, but he’ll pretend to so he can trick the 14 Dem senators into allowing a vote on his bill. Walker recently offered to actually sit down and speak with the minority leader – something he should have done anyway and long ago – but only if the rest of the senators came back with him. Why?

“…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way…But that would be the only, if you heard that I was going to talk to them, that would be the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them. And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.”     More…