July 11, 2011
Paid sick leave in Seattle: a gay-rights issue?

The Times reports:

Since Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata introduced his proposal for paid sick days two weeks ago, political advocates have framed the debate as a public-health issue, a low-income workers issue, a quality-of-life issue, an immigrant-rights issue, and more broadly, a labor issue.

And now, it's being cast as a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issue.

"Many LGBT workers are concentrated in industries where paid sick leave is not typical," said Mike Andrew, from the King County chapter of Pride At Work, an AFL-CIO constituency group.

Encouraging businesses to move out of Seattle is a "gay rights issue"? That's racist.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 11, 2011 05:29 PM | Email This
Comments
1. This whole "paid sick leave" idea is SO stupid. I don't care if you are gay or straight. Earlier this year my small business closed because of federal over regulation. But while I still had employees I gave them a choice. I figured out how much per hour each benefit cost, and let them decide which benefits they wanted.

For example, one employee might have a maximum hourly rate of $20 per hour. If they wanted 1 week of paid sick leave, they got that. But they only got paid $19.50 per hour. 2 weeks of paid vacation cost $1 per hour. Medical benefits cost whatever they cost us. If the employee had a spouse that provided them with coverage, they could choose a higher hourly rate.

If I had been FORCED to give 1 week of paid sick leave to everybody, I would have just lowered all opening salaries by fifty cents an hour, and reduced raises for that year by fifty cents an hour.

If government raises the cost of having an employee, then as an employer I have to reduce the pay of employees proportionately. Where do these bozos on the city council think the money for this is going to come from?

BTW, I forget the exact amount each benefit cost. That was up to the bookkeeper. The above numbers are just rough examples. The benefit cost us exactly the amount we charged the employee. It didn't make a difference to me as an employer if they wanted higher salary or more benefits. It cost the company the same either way.

Hairy

Posted by: Hairy Buddah on July 11, 2011 09:02 PM
2. The excuses they keep coming up with for this are ridiculous. Sentence all these councilpeople to run their own businesses with people JUST like themselves making up all the lame rules they have to follow. And last I heard, local government is exempt from all these same rules! Why are they putting up with that??

Posted by: Michele on July 12, 2011 01:17 AM
3. "'Many LGBT workers are concentrated in industries where paid sick leave is not typical,' said Mike Andrew, from the King County chapter of Pride At Work, an AFL-CIO constituency group."

What is Mr. Andrew advocating....that bath house attendants should unionize?

Posted by: Saltherring on July 12, 2011 12:21 PM
4. businesses won't move out of seattle for this, and any claiming they will are utilizing false threats to keep screwing over their employees or don't know the cost of actually moving - which would greatly outweigh the paid sick leave.

several small businesses (15-50 employees) have already implemented this and the costs have been negligible or even offset by happier workers, which in turn are more productive - thereby improving business income... imagine that!

hey hairy, i'm willing to bet
a. you never owned a business
b. if you did, you went out due to shoddy business practices and treating your employees like dirt as well as providing less than stellar service - and not over regulation
c. you have no idea the actual cost of this bill

@michele,
PTO is lame? that's hilarious - you must be a stay at home mom. the city already offers paid sick leave for employees, hence the exemption. but way to attempt a failed dig at local government based on hearsay!

@saltherring w/ the bigoted comment du jour! were you born that way, or was being a bigot always a choice?

Posted by: mg on July 12, 2011 11:32 PM
5. No mg, I simply point out perverse behavior for what it is....evil. Moral relativists like yourself wouldn't understand, but God will tell you all about it one day.

Posted by: Saltherring on July 13, 2011 06:35 AM
6. mg exhibits classic ignorance of the problems that vexes competitive business enterprises. When big government levies these onerous regulations on Seattle companies, no wonder they will move to Tukwila, or Idaho. You're clueless, man!

Posted by: yaddacubed on July 13, 2011 09:36 AM
7. mg,

Why do we need to legislate this? If businesses discover it's a good thing for the bottom line - as you contend - then businesses will start to do it on their own, right?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 13, 2011 06:29 PM
8. A libertarian would argue that there's no reason for any employer mandates -- minimum wage, overtime, social security contributions, health insurance, right to a union, workplace safety, etc. That's their worldview, often stemming from their interpretation of the constitution, and they're typically not open to debate.

A progressive would argue that a mandate should be considered if either of the following is true:

- It benefits society as a whole because of externalities that are otherwise hard to deal with.

- It rectifies a power imbalance between employer and employee that is damaging to society.

There are probably some other good progressive reasons for mandates that I'm missing. If one or more is true, than a progressive would weigh the benefits of the mandate against the drawbacks compared with other approaches, a process that is partially objective and partially subjective.

However, "We think most employees would like this benefit" is not in itself a good argument for a mandate.

I suppose the case for paid sick leave is that it reduces the spread of disease, reduces the number of lives disrupted by illness, and provides fairness to the extent that illness is random. The drawbacks are that it slightly decreases the incentive to stay healthy, it encourages abuse (claiming you're sick when you're not), and it loosens the connection between pay and performance, and it burdens business. While all of these benefits could be accomplished by other means, and all of these drawbacks could be mitigated, they are all factors to consider.

My gut feeling, as a progressive, is that the cons exceed the pros in this case, but I certainly haven't analyzed it rigorously. My point here is to show that it's not a black and white issue ... unless you're a libertarian.

Posted by: Bruce on July 14, 2011 10:51 AM
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