HB 1727 lets employers offer workers a raise OR paid sick leave. Is this who we are as a community in HI?

St.Damien at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. What would he say about HB 1727?

HB 1727 has a Senate Labor Committee hearing on Thursday at 2:45 pm in room 229 of the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. The bill is a disservice to workers.It gives employers the discretion to decide if they will give employees a raise OR paid sick leave. Unlike bills passed in other states which allow workers to begin accruing sick leave immediately, this one only allows them to do it after they have put in 680 hours of work.

Its definition of family is very narrow. It excludes employers with less than 50 employees, and those who pay slightly above the minimum wage—as if some workers are more deserving of sick leave than others? And there is no provision to allow its application to instances of domestic violence. One has to ask: what are the chances that this bill will improve the lives of the 185,000 employees in Hawaii who  work without paid sick days?  The answer is: very slim.

Would any of us want to be at the mercy of employers who are given so much leeway for interpretation that enforcement is impossible and there are no real protections for our rights? Would any of us want to choose between getting a raise and getting paid sick leave? Why would we inflict on struggling workers something we would not want for ourselves? This wholly inadequate legislation does little to nothing to relieve their stress or save them from sliding into financial ruin because of a sudden crisis. This is not an acceptable alternative to raising the minimum wage, nor is it it an acceptable way to enact a law to provide paid sick leave.

We need to raise the minimum wage because there is abundant data at DBEDT –and on the streets–that says working families are just not making enough to survive. To pass this bill is to look away from what the data tells us, and from the evidence before our eyes, and make believe that we are doing something to address a problem.

Legislators need to raise the minimum wage AND enact paid sick leave. Both are needed, and neither should be at the whim of an employer. The hardworking families of Hawaii deserve better.

This bill disrespects workers –and diminishes us all.

Please tell legislators to reject this bill in favor of legislation that genuinely acknowledges the dignity and rights of all workers, and speaks for who we say we are as a community.

Statewide, about 21.5% of two‐adult couples with no children and 31.7% of two‐adult couples with two children had incomes below the self‐sufficiency standard in
2016. For single‐adult with no children and single‐adult with one child, 44.1% and 50.8% had incomes in 2016 below the self‐sufficiency level, respectively.
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