15 States Absolutely Trampling Worker’s Rights
Worker’s rights regarding pay, overtime, internships, and youth employment have been federally protected by law for years under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unfortunately, those rights are under attack across the United States.
Things aren’t any better under President Donald Trump. The self-proclaimed voice for the average working American has killed a handful of laws enacted to protect workers. Of course, unfair labor laws won’t mean much if automation takes over the American workforce.
Make no mistake, there are a few locations and a handful of companies that are great places to work. You won’t see them on this list as we take a tour of places where the Economic Policy Institute says worker’s rights are being trampled. Minimum wage, paid leave, and fair scheduling aren’t up for negotiation in these 15 states.
A law that prohibits cities and counties from requiring employers to offer paid leave was enacted in 2014, and things got worse for Alabamans from there. A 2016 law forbids local governments from setting their own minimum wage, fair scheduling practices, and project labor agreements. The latter impacts dangerous jobs like construction as it pertains to municipal work.
Next: Another Southern state making life hard for working people.
Arkansas raised its minimum wage to $8.50 on the first day of 2017, a nice boost that puts the state near the middle of the pack nationally. The legislation that brought the higher minimum wage, however, says that no city or county in the state may mandate a higher minimum wage. The same bill took aim at fair scheduling and paid leave, which makes Arkansas one of the worst for worker’s rights.
Next: It’s not so sunny for workers in this state.
Thanks to Jeb Bush and a 2003 law, cities and counties in Florida cannot pay a minimum wage higher than the state’s $8.10 per hour. In 2013, a law took aim at paid leave. Then in 2017, project labor agreements and prevailing wages, the latter of which require a median wage for workers doing government contracts, were eliminated. Put it all together and it’s why Florida is a harsh place for employees.
Next: Can anyone survive on minimum wage in this state?
The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour. It’s not much, but it’s a dream wage for the people of Georgia, where the minimum wage is just $5.15. Any employer subject to the FLSA must pay the federal rate, but otherwise the rate is $5.15 and no city or county can go above the national minimum. Paid leave (since 2004) and fair scheduling (2017) aren’t required in Georgia, so not only are people not making any money, but many can’t even take a sick day.
Next: A former governor took a sledgehammer to worker’s rights.
Indiana has strictly controlled the state minimum wage since 2011. Then Mike Pence, certainly no advocate of LGBT rights, did even more to trample on worker’s rights. In 2013, the former governor signed a law saying paid time off isn’t required. In 2015, it was a prevailing wage for government contracts that came off the books. Finally, in 2016, fair scheduling was erased by Pence. For those counting at home, that’s four worker’s rights standards that are gone in Indiana.
Next: Jumping on the bandwagon
Iowa is a little late to the party getting in the way of worker’s rights, but it jumped right in when it arrived. In 2017, one piece of legislation in the House eliminated paid leave requirements and fair scheduling practices, and sets the state minimum wage at $7.25. Proposed higher minimum rates in a few counties were also nullified. Another law originating from the Senate stipulates government contractors don’t have to follow labor project agreements.
Next: One governor really put his state in a bad place.
From the state that brought you kooky and outlandish tax cuts comes terrible worker’s rights. A 2013 statute caps minimum wage (no higher than the state minimum), doesn’t mandate paid leave, and doesn’t require fair wages for government contract work. Then in 2016, there was a state-wide statute that prohibits fair scheduling laws. The dreadful tax experiment and terrible worker’s rights are the work of former governor Sam Brownback. So it’s little wonder he was recently declared one of the worst governors in the United States.
Next: The minimum wage is set in stone in this state.
A bill passed by the Kentucky House in 2016 and enacted in 2017 says cities and counties don’t have to require paid leave or fair wages for government contracts. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the same law says the minimum wage can’t exceed the state minimum of $7.25. However, the state supreme court in October 2016 had already ruled against minimum wage increases in Lexington and Jefferson counties — two areas that went on to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Next: A state that started trampling worker’s rights early on.
Similar to North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Utah, Louisiana has laws pertaining to minimum wage and paid leave. We’re choosing Louisiana for this list for a couple reasons. First, Louisiana has no set minimum wage and it forbids any cities or parishes from setting a wage higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. Also, it was the first state to enact any legislation like that, way back in 1997. When it passed a law that doesn’t require employers to provide paid sick leave in 2012, it was one the first states to have a law like that on the books.
Next: One busy period in this state curtailed worker’s rights.
The year 2015 was a busy one for the Michigan legislature — and a bad one for workers. Resolutions impacting minimum wage, paid leave, fair scheduling, and prevailing wage were all passed at once. Not requiring paid leave or fair scheduling (which is basically advance notice of shift changes or extra pay for on-call shifts) isn’t great, but the minimum wage part isn’t so bad. Michigan’s minimum wage is rising to $9.25 on the first day of 2018 and is scheduled to increase annually.
Next: No minimum wage is just one negative for workers in this state.
Back in 2013, Mississippi made it illegal for cities and counties to offer anything more than $7.25 as a minimum wage. The state is one of the few in the country without an established minimum wage, and two of the others are on the list (the next at No. 14). Paid leave hasn’t been required since 2013, and in 2014 it did away with requiring labor agreements for municipal projects.
Next: Good news and then bad news for some workers in this next state.
There was bad news, some good news, and then more bad news for Missouri wage workers. The bad news in 2015 was that paid leave wasn’t required and cities or counties couldn’t allow a minimum wage higher than the one set by the state. At the time it was still good news for wage workers in St. Louis, as the higher minimum wage that was still on the books there wasn’t impacted. More bad news in 2017: An act passed by the legislature nullified all past or future wage increases on the local level, and another 2017 law did away with project labor agreements.
Next: Just some run-of-the-mill rights trampling in this Midwest state.
Governor John Kasich doesn’t endorse the Obamacare repeal at all. Curtailing worker’s rights? Well, he’s OK with that. In 2017, the state passed laws that don’t require fair scheduling and paid leave, and another 2017 law controls the minimum wage on the state level.
Next: Not the kind of hits this state is known for.
Nashville is known for churning out country music hits left and right. The hits just keep on coming for fans of worker’s rights in Tennessee, but not in a good way. The state has no minimum wage, so it follows the federal minimum of $7.25. Since 2013, the state code doesn’t allow for a higher minimum wage. The same year, requirements for paid leave and prevailing wages were scrapped. Then in 2017, the state Senate passed a law lifting the requirements for paid time off. Add it all up and it’s not a great environment for worker’s rights.
Next: Run out of this state before this governor walks all over your rights.
Scott Walker has been leading Wisconsin as its governor since 2011. Depending on who you ask, he’s done as much to hurt the state as he has to help it. He signed a right-to-work law that stripped power from unions, helping kill the state’s middle class. He’s one of the most hated politicians in America, and yet he keeps getting elected. To be fair, Wisconsin’s minimum wage legislation (no locale can set a minimum higher than the state’s) has been on the books before he came to power. But in 2011, Walker scuttled paid leave requirements, and in 2017 he signed on legislation getting rid of project labor agreements for government contracts.
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