Letter to the editor: Vermont's paid leave bill is good for workers
Rep. Robin Scheu (D-Middlebury) wrote an excellent commentary, “Paid-leave bill good for Vermont” (June 27, 2019), on the savage injustice of some having the benefit of paid leave while others do not. As Rep. Scheu reported in her piece, “Many workers — especially lower income workers — currently do not have access to adequate paid leave to deal with their own serious illness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide, about three in five private sector workers do not have access to TDI [paid family leave] through their employers, leaving them vulnerable when they need to take time off to take care of their own serious health needs.”
Rep. Scheu is right. The Paid Leave bill, H.107, is good for Vermont, especially those many thousands of Vermonters who live paycheck-to-paycheck and have to go to work with the flu, pneumonia, any one of the millions of viruses in Vermont or even while undergoing chemotherapy — or risk losing their employment. While the upper crust of the management usually has the paid family leave, the workers do not, and loss of a day’s or a week’s pay to get well again could mean financial insolvency and eviction from an apartment or foreclosure on a house.
It is tragic that the Democratic leadership did not heed Rep. Scheu. There are some 70,000 Vermonters mired in poverty and the Democratic Party banned plastic bags. While they also passed other legislation, like cleaning up the big lake, which is great, those 70,000 Vermonters are still living in poverty without paid family leave or wages that will lift them out of poverty. The empty promises of the Democratic leaders that they will probably pass these bills next year or somewhere down the road in the future do not mean much of anything when there is no end to the poverty.