With the U.S. being the most overworked developed country in the world and the only industrialized country that does not have mandated leave, it might seem plausible for officials to consider enacting paid leave laws. Unfortunately, our country seems to be doing the exact opposite.
On Friday, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that blocked local governments in the state from enacting paid sick leave laws. There is currently one pending in Orange County that has been vehemently opposed by giant businesses like Walt Disney.
Scott's stated reason for signing the bill into law is that it creates a "statewide uniformity ... in Florida's employer-employee relationships." He's right about that. It creates a statewide uniform relationship where employers have full rights to exploit or overwork their employees, particularly when it's a corporation dealing with low-paid workers. Many of these corporations, like Walt Disney, already have poor track records on such matters, and furthermore, research has shown that mandated sick leave has either no impact or a positive impact on business growth, contrary to popular belief.
Unfortunately, Governor Scott's record on matters of corporate interests versus the average citizen tends to lean towards the former. On this issue, all signs should have pointed Scott towards vetoing the bill. Several labor and activist groups staged massive protests, gathering over 50,000 citizens' signatures in petitions. Polls in April have shown that 80% of Floridians support mandated sick leave laws, and even Scott's own office reported that they received over 1,000 phone calls urging him to reject the bill as opposed to 28 asking him to sign it. Ignoring all the evidence that his constituents wanted the bill vetoed, Scott took only four of the 15 days that were assigned to review the bill thoroughly before passing it.
The story gets even more circumspect from here. There have been allegations that there was corrupt communication between commissioners and business-interest lobbyists that sought to delay the Orange County bill long enough to deliver a "kill shot" at the state level. These allegations have led to a criminal investigation and civil lawsuit that are still pending.
All of this bad publicity is bad news for Scott and the Republican Party in Florida. The poll mentioned above also found that 50% of Floridians do not trust the current Republican-run state legislature to make decisions for the local communities or for middle-class families. These numbers are damning, and hopefully, they mean a change for Florida come the next state elections.