Walking For Workers Saturday in Lander

 

Walking for Workers. Repeal the Vacation Theft Act.

Walking for Workers. Repeal the Vacation Theft Act.

On Saturday, September 21 in Lander we will be “Walking for Workers,” knocking on the doors of registered Democrats, giving them information about the Fremont County Democratic Party and asking that they sign a petition in support of the repeal of Enrolled Act 37– the Vacation Theft Act. Message points and all the materials needed will be provided. We’ll meet at The Palmers, 291 Cascade Street (corner of 3rd and Cascade) in Lander and canvass from 10 am until 2 pm and then regroup for chili and stories.

On Saturday, September 28 we will follow this up by “Walking for Workers” in Riverton.
Please volunteer to support this important effort to protect workers rights in Wyoming.

Learn more about Enrolled Act 37:
Enrolled Act 37– Wyoming Republicans Gift to Working People
Wyoming Democrats and Labor Day
Equality State Policy Center Spring Newsletter
Wyoming GOP’s Enrolled Act 37 – WDP Timeline

Enrolled Act 37– Wyoming Republicans Gift to Working People

The following op-ed piece, written by FCDP Chair, Bruce Palmer, appeared in the July 31 issue of the Riverton Ranger.

It is summer time. The kids are out of school and many family’s thoughts turn to a summer vacation. A trip to Yellowstone, a family reunion or perhaps a jaunt up the Loop Road to camp, fish and hike. Here is a suggestion. Be sure that you use all of your earned vacation while you still have it!

On July 1, Enrolled Act 37, passed by the Republican dominated legislature and Governor Matt Mead, took effect taking another shot at the rights of workers in Wyoming. This time they are after your earned vacation. While most of us were hard at work back in February, the Republican-dominated legislature was in Cheyenne quietly working to take away that most revered of American institutions—earned vacation. Nearly every Republican (including Fremont County legislators Lloyd Larsen, HD 54; David Miller, HD 55; Nathan Winters, HD 28; Eli Bebout, SD 26 and Gerald Geis, SD 20) voted to pass House Bill 79 changing the definition of compensation in the state of Wyoming to no longer include accrued, earned vacation. What this means is that when you retire or are laid off employers no longer need to pay you for the vacation time that you earned.

Not a single Democrat voted for this onerous vacation theft law because we feel that it is fundamentally unfair. If you need to take a few days off from work, but haven’t earned enough vacation time to do so you have to take the time as unpaid, right? This means that your vacation is compensation, you earn it and employers should not be allowed to take it from you. Particularly if you are being laid off. The pay-out on earned vacation can mean the difference between being able to take care of your family while you find a new job and not.

That Republicans are unsympathetic to the needs of working people is no surprise, you really only need to look at the data and the efforts that they make in the legislature. Wyoming consistently ranks dead last in gender wage equality with Wyoming women earning a mere 67 cents for every dollar paid to a man. While the national numbers are horrible with women earning just 77 cents on the dollar, Wyoming’s wage gap is criminal. At the same time Wyoming consistently ranks first in workplace fatalities. This is fundamental. No one expects a family member not to return after a day at work. The incremental, self-policing efforts implemented by the Republicans are not the answer to a problem this grave.

With 87% of our legislators being Republicans and all of our statewide offices and national offices held by Republicans it would be easy for them to improve the lot of our workers if they wanted to do so. The Republicans do not. Rather they do exactly the opposite, further eroding the protections that employees still have. In this past session in addition to their vacation-grabbing legislation the Republicans pushed “tip pooling” legislation that would have allowed employers to force employees to pool their tips reducing some employees income potential while reducing the burden on employers to pay an appropriate wage.

The Fremont County Democratic Party believes that we can do better. Working people in Wyoming aren’t asking for a handout, but they do deserve a fair and safe workplace. And they need to be rewarded with what they have earned, whether it is their earned vacation or their tips. This is the Wyoming way—honest and fair.

Wyoming Democrats will be working in the upcoming session to repeal Enrolled Act 37. You can help with this effort. This summer we will be visiting folks door-to-door and at events around the state as we gather petitions to deliver to our legislators asking that they repeal the Vacation Theft Act. We hope that you will visit with these neighbors and learn more about the people and beliefs of the Democratic Party in Fremont County. Sign the petition. More than that we hope that you will join us as we work to return balanced, two-party politics that work to the benefit all of the people of Wyoming.

Read Enrolled Act 37

Hear Enrolled Act 37 sponsor Rep. Tim Stubson debate the merits of the Bill with Bruce Palmer on KVOW.

Worker’s Issues are Wyoming Issues

FCDP Chair, Bruce Palmer’s op-ed response to Sunday’s Casper Star Tribune editorial.

All I can think is that the Casper Star-Tribune editorial board must not have read Joan Barron’s article in their paper about the Wyoming Democratic Party’s state central committee meeting last weekend before writing their Sunday editorial. If they had (or if they were there, as I was) they would know that while the minimum wage was discussed, the initiative that the party agreed to tackle was the repeal of House Bill 79. H.B. 79 says that as long as there is a signed agreement on the day that you start your job, your employer is not responsible for paying you for vacation that you earned, but haven’t used, when you leave that job. Strangely entitled the “Collection of Unpaid Wages” Act, it does exactly the opposite as it takes a benefit that employees have earned and puts it in the pocket of their employer. Not a single Democrat in the Wyoming House and Senate voted for H.B. 79, while nearly every Republican did so.

And therein lies one of the many differences between the two parties that the editors of the Casper Star-Tribune choose not to see. Democrats can be counted on to look out for the rights of those who work. The Republicans, not so much.

The editorial board is absolutely right when they talk about the staggering dominance of the Republican Party here in Wyoming—79 out of 90 legislators, all five of the statewide elected officials and all three of our representatives in Washington are Republicans. And we can see what voting for Republicans is getting our working families here in our communities of Wyoming. Year after year Wyoming ranks dead last in gender wage equality, while consistently coming in near the top in workplace fatalities. Republicans are very effective at getting elected. Doing the work of the people is proving to be more of a challenge for them.

Wyoming, last in the nation in gender wage equality.

Wyoming, last in the nation in gender wage equality.

We did discuss the minimum wage during our committee meeting as well as other issues of importance to the workingwomen and men of Wyoming. The minimum wage was discussed in the context of gender wage inequality and the fact that the minimum wage for those in tipped positions has not been increased in decades.

We discussed the minimum wage in the context that Republicans in the last legislative session were pushing “tip pooling” legislation that would have allowed employers to force employees to pool their tips reducing some employees income potential while reducing the burden on employers responsibility to pay an appropriate wage.

We discussed minimum wage in the context of the Federal minimum wage being just $7.25 per hour. Data indicates that if the federal minimum simply kept pace with inflation it would now be $10.56 per hour. Some have argued that if it were tied to productivity gains it would be significantly higher still. Importantly, and unknown by most, many of Wyoming’s workers are in positions not covered by the Federal minimum wage and so these worker’s Wyoming-legislated minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, the lowest in the nation. The Casper Star- Tribune editorial board indicates that they don’t believe that the minimum wage is a Wyoming issue. Really?

Wyoming’s Democratic Party thinks that workers issues are Wyoming issues—workplace safety, minimum wage, gender wage equality, preventing coercive work environments where employers can take what a person has earned, whether it is tips or accrued vacation—Democrats stand up for and vote for those who do the work.

Bruce Palmer is the Chair of the Fremont County Democratic Party. News and views of the FCDP can be found online at: TurnFremontBlue.com