Commissioners out of touch on earned paid leave law

To the Editor;

I am writing in response to the lead article in the Piscataquis Observer Dec. 24 which reported on the decision of the County Commissioners to vote not to comply with the new Maine law An Act Authorizing Earned Paid Leave. In their discussion they “expressed concern with the law being imposed on businesses and state agencies and potential costs for paid time off for part-time employees. “It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Commissioners Chairman Jim White said.”

Really? I am not sure the people most likely to benefit from this new law see it as a non-existent problem: the parents who must lose pay when the school unexpectedly says they need to come pick up a child due to illness, or premature closing; the worker whose elderly parent falls and needs to be picked up off the floor; the worker whose medical appointment cannot be scheduled “after work,” the low wage worker whose car breaks down on the way to work and has to miss an entire day’s pay.   

Clearly the commissioners’ focus is on the cost to businesses,  while there are many local people who are already struggling to make ends meet who will have just a little breathing room if they have need of a few hours to take care of a personal situation. Perhaps the commissioners have been privileged enough never to have faced a decision about whether to take care of an ailing family member  or to lose a day’s pay? This law is a step toward being a more humane and equitable society. Not only are the commissioners proposing breaking the law, but they are out of touch with the reality in their community.  

Lesley Fernow


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