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Big business attempts to strike down wage reform measures

Everyone knows that big business is influential on the national stage. Many corporations are able to bully politicians into adopting measures that benefit large businesses. A recent case out of Florida shows that big business’s influence remains strong in the wage and hour laws debate in Orange County.

The 50,000 people who signed a petition to bring a sick-time initiative to vote may be left in the cold this season. Those people had hoped to mandate sick-time standards in the region for local workers. The changes are opposed by powerful corporate groups such as entertainment behemoth Walt Disney World and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Two bills submitted by Republican lawmakers are taking aim at proposed workers’ rights in the area. One proposed measure would grant workers up to five sick days, but employers would not be required to pay employees for that time off. The other reform measure seems to favor big business entirely, leaving out sick leave provisions altogether and attempting to kill living wage provisions that would protect vulnerable workers in the area.

Supporters of the new measures say the wage reform issue should be a statewide effort rather than simply a response to local problems. Employers such as Walt Disney World say their business could suffer from a patchwork of requirements that could produce inconsistencies between counties. Still, many workers throughout Florida do not face the same concerns as Orange County residents, according to opponents, who would have local politicians mandate wage laws independent of larger policies.

The legal brawl within the county is likely to continue into the upcoming months as politicians decide whether to adopt worker protection measures. Mandatory paid sick leave could provide massive financial benefits and security for thousands of workers in the area, but big business could sadly block this initiative entirely. The most vulnerable workers in the county could suffer from this legal maneuver.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Lawmakers might block local wage, sick-time rules,” David Damron, Feb. 19, 2013