Carlos Smith, Orange County DEC Chair, Stephanie Porta, Executive Director of Organize Now, Anna Eskamani, Regional Manager at FL Planned Parenthood PAC, and local Orlando residents without Earned Sick Time benefits, held a press conference to demand an overturn of the “kill shot” legislation that Rick Scott signed, which preempted local communities from being able to provide Earned Sick Time benefits to working families.
“If voters had been given a fair shake we would have passed Earned Sick Time benefits in 2012 and today our community would be healthier and our economy would be stronger,” Porta said. “But the struggle will continue until the voice of voters is heard and hardworking families have the same opportunity to care for their loved ones that the politicians and lobbyists do today.”
The event took place on the second anniversary of the Orange County Commission’s decision to keep a sick time referendum off the ballot until this year’s primary election, so that Scott and his allies could pass a state law preempting it. This August, Orange County residents voted 64% in favor of the sick leave measure. Unfortunately, it will not be implemented due to the Governor and the GOP’s intervention.
The conspiracy to block Earned Sick Time was revealed in a texting scandal involving Orange County commissioners, GOP officials, and lobbyists that were fighting the measure. In one exchange, Orange County GOP Chair Lew Oliver texted Commissioner Ted Edwards that he wanted "at least one good faith straight face test reason to at least delay it long enough to keep it off the ballot in November. After that, the Legislature can deliver the kill shot."
Rick Scott and his allies in Tallahassee did indeed deliver the kill shot in the form of, HB 655, which prohibits local governments from requiring businesses to provide employee benefits, including sick time. Scott and the GOP have received almost a million dollars from special interests and businesses who were opposed to the measure.
"On August 26th, election day in Orange County, 64% of voters who approved the Earned Sick Tick referendum were told by Rick Scott to sit down and shut up,” said Carlos Smith, Chair of the Orange County DEC. “They were told their vote didn’t count. 255,000 workers in Orange County could have access to earned sick time right now, but Rick Scott refused to let them have it. We need a Governor who has the courage to stand up to big business, repeal this preemption of local control, and work with the legislature to establish a commonsense approach to Earned Sick Time in Florida.
One of those workers is Inetra Pickard, who did not have sick time benefits when she was told by her manager that she had to choose between taking her sick daughter to work or get fired. She chose her daughter and was subsequently let go.
“I don’t think any parent should have to make the decision between being a good parent or being a good employee,” said Pickard in a statement. “We should have policies in place to ensure we can be both. I truly believe that I would still have a job if I had Earned Sick Time.”