Michigan GOP: We have to kill paid sick leave 'to keep people working'


State Sen. Rick Jones wants people to believe getting rid of paid sick leave is the best way to help the Michigan workforce.

The Michigan GOP has been using the lame-duck session to undercut the will of the voters comprehensively. They moved to weaken a voting rights initiative and to minimize the power of the incoming Democratic attorney general. They also engaged in a complicated political maneuver that allowed them to seriously damage the state's newly passed paid sick-leave law.

Now, one of the GOP senators behind the effort to strip sick leave from the workers of Michigan has offered an incredible explanation for why they did it:

"What we had was a ballot initiative and we're responsible for looking at it and we can within 40 days take it up and vote on it," said Republican Senator Rick Jones.


"Well we did that. Then that allows us to change it a little bit if we need to and we felt we needed to keep people working."

Jones went on to say that it was necessary to drastically minimize the reach of the sick leave law to stop employers from making job cuts or increasing automation.

Jones has a near-perfect rating from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a big business lobby group that fought the sick leave initiative all along, calling it the "most punitive and aggressive [paid sick leave] proposal to be pursued in any state to date."

What the Chamber of Commerce, Jones, and his fellow Republicans all willfully ignore is that paid sick leave makes for a healthier and more prosperous populace. Workforces are more stable and productive, the risk of illness being passed from employee to employee or the public is significantly decreased, and overall health care costs are lower. Paid sick leave also allows people to more fully participate in the lives of their families, caring for sick relatives and attending crucial events like school conferences.

In the 2018 midterms, Michiganders overwhelmingly voted for progressive policies, but the GOP has made clear it doesn't care. Now, supporters of the paid sick leave initiative are phone banking to demand outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder veto the legislation. They want Snyder to do the right thing, even if the rest of his party won't.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.