15 Legislative Actions That Leave North Carolina Workers Disenfranchised
On July 20th North Carolina workers joined workers across the nation to Strike for Black Lives. Though the strike itself only spanned a single day, the demands are still available and applicable. The demands set forth by this strike would benefit all North Carolinians - though they originate from the most marginalized - structurally and individually. Real Facts NC identified fifteen legislative actions that failed to live up to or actively undermined these demands in North Carolina with a Republican-led legislative body.
Many of these bills are the byproduct of a Republican leadership at the state level throughout the past decade. Through their former supermajority, Republican lawmakers enshrined unconstitutional gerrymandering that targeted Black people, and questionable antics that unquestionably hurt workers. This fall voters have the opportunity to elect leaders who will review these past actions and create new legislation that will meet their needs.
Legislative Actions in NC
Actions that failed to protect workers:
- 2020: Republicans failed to include worker protections in H1023. They rejected a measure to require meatpacking plants submit a plan for protecting employees from COVID-19. They also rejected requirements that plants provide PPE and a 15-minute break every two hours for handwashing and requirements that employers offer two weeks’ paid sick leave for anyone infected with COVID-19.
- 2020: H1057 would have increased protections for front line workers, including access to more workers compensation. Republicans refused to vote on the bill.
- 2019: H46 would have increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. H46 would have also addressed pay equity by requiring all employees, regardless of gender or gender identity, be paid the same for the same work. Republicans refused to vote on the bill.
Anti-Union and “Right to Work” laws:
North Carolina is a “right to work” and “employment at will” state, resulting in few protections for workers.
- 2019: H46 would have removed the ban on unions for public employees. Republicans refused to hold votes on the bill.
- 2018: Republicans attempted to put an anti-union “right to work” constitutional amendment on the ballot.
- 2013: H74 banned unions for farm workers. (Section 15: “Agricultural Right to Work”)
Actions that cut unemployment benefits:
- 2020: H1075 would have increased the monthly cap on unemployment benefits and extended the number of weeks someone is eligible for unemployment. Republicans refused to vote on the measure.
- NOTE: A provision increasingthe state’s weekly cap on unemployment benefits was removed from the final version of the coronavirus relief bill.
- 2013: Republicans cut unemployment benefits, becoming the only state to do so. North Carolina is one of only two states that only allows 12 weeks of unemployment.
- More from ProPublica on how this has played out since 2013.
Actions that cut other benefits:
- 2019: H422 would have required employers offer paid family medical leave, paid sick leave and other policies to help North Carolinians stay healthy and support their loved ones. Republicans refused to hold votes on the bill.
- 2019: H46 would have restored the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to provide low and middle income households with tax relief. Republicans refused to vote on the bill.
- 2017: Republicans refused to restore the Child Care Tax credit.
- 2014: North Carolina became the only state to eliminate the earned income tax credit in 30 years after Republicans voted to eliminate it in 2013.
Actions that blocked Medicaid expansion & access to health care:
- 2020: H1040 would have expanded Medicaid. Republicans refused to vote on the measure despite being in the midst of a global pandemic.
- 2019: H966, the 2019 Republican budget, failed to expand Medicaid and would have cut DHHS’s budget by $42 million.
- 2019: S86 authorized Association Health Plans, which are allowed to make chronic care patients jump through more hoops or pay higher deductibles, weakening ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- 2013: Republicans blocked Medicaid expansion.
Instead, Republicans gave tax breaks to big businesses:
- 2019: Republican budget, H966, would have given more than $100 million in tax breaks to corporations.
- 2019: Republicans tried to reduce taxes for corporations with S578. The tax cut would have resulted in a loss of $1 billion in state tax revenue.
- 2017: Republican budget cut $3.5 billion in taxes for corporations by lowering the corporate tax rate. NC has the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation.