Editorial: NC must improve its last-in-the-nation showing in a very important category

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As reported in this space earlier this month, the latest assessment of the “Best and Worst States to Work in America 2021” from analysts at the global anti-poverty nonprofit, OxFam place North Carolina dead last in the U.S.

Over the weekend, the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News & Record twins featured an excellent editorial that lamented this sorry state of affairs and called on state Republicans to stop blaming the messenger (a spokesperson for Senate leader Phil Berger called OxFam a “left-wing advocacy group”) and get to work making our state a better place to work. As the editorial rightfully puts it in response to the attacks on OxFam:

But facts are neither partisan nor ideological. And, as they say, the proof is in the pudding:

  • North Carolina’s minimum wage is a paltry $7.25 an hour, which is only 23.2% of what it takes to support a family of four. And which does not apply to farmworkers.
  • By state law local governments cannot set higher minimum wages.
  • No laws in North Carolina protect workers from sexual harassment.
  • There is no paid family leave in North Carolina.
  • There are no state laws against sexual harassment.
  • And if you should lose your job here, North Carolina offers some of the stingiest and cruelest unemployment benefits in the nation.

After detailing the many outrageous failings of the state Department of Labor under two decades of do-noting leadership from former Commissioner Cherie Berry, the editorial continues:

There is a shortage of nurses, teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, construction workers, restaurant workers, even after federal COVID unemployment benefits were cut.

Call them lazy if you will, but we’re guessing that most workers want what all of us want: a decent wage for a decent day’s work under safe conditions.

So, if we were legislators, we’d reconsider blaming the messenger….

…The upshot: Like it or not, Oxfam has a point.

North Carolina can do better. And North Carolina should do better.

Click here to review the OxFam report and here or here to read the full editorial.

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