Former Labor Commissioner speaks out on UI debt "fix"

Harry Payne sets the record straight:

In simple terms, 34,476 of the state’s almost 200,000 businesses have not paid the $2.5 billion in unemployment insurance premiums necessary to cover what their layoffs cost the system and state. Now the same business groups responsible for the excessive cuts to unemployment insurance premiums that drained the reserves want the very victims of this economy to pay the cost of re-filling it by forfeiting benefits.

And I bet a lot of those same employers also refused to purchase legally-required worker's compensation coverage. But all of that flies over the heads of the "business can do no wrong" Republican corporate-worshipping congregation. Here's a logic-deprived rebuttal from the NC Chamber, who have graciously accepted the task of writing our laws for us:

The editorial also misses the bigger picture that the responsibility to repay this debt falls squarely on North Carolina employers. Employees do not pay UI taxes. On Nov. 10, North Carolina missed another deadline to repay the federal UI loan, which leads to additional tax increases on businesses. This translates into a tax increase on every job from $63 to $84 per employee, and will continue to rise annually until the debt is paid.

No shit, Sherlock. The reason employers pay the taxes is because they are the ones who not only benefit from the labors of employees, they also make the decisions to hire and layoff said employees.

And when you lay off 1 out of 5 employees, is your production cut by 20%? Oh, hell no. The remaining 4 employees have to catch up the slack. And since you're probably not going to raise their pay for their increased duties, that extra you have to pay to cover UI benefits (that you caused) is a drop in the bucket compared to the money you're saving by writing that pink slip.

Frankly, I think it's time we start talking about recall elections. The GOP leadership in the General Assembly is abrogating their responsibilities by allowing lobbyists to craft Legislation that will be transformed into Statute, and the longer we let this travesty continue the less relevant our Constitution(s) are.

Comments

If we end corporate personhood

the CEOs of the companies breaking these laws would find their greedy asses in jail. Instead, they find themselves with personal invitations to the governor's mansion.

Why do employers pay?

Seriously. I've actually tried to find a good explanation. Why do employers pay for unemployment insurance? We get health insurance in case we get sick. We get car insurance in case we get in a wreck. We get homeowner's insurance in case we have a fire. We get title insurance to make sure our home is really ours. Shouldn't we pay for our own unemployment insurance? In the end we do pay anyway in the form of lower wages or higher costs of goods.

Why should there be a tax, be it unemployment or FICA, for giving someone a job?

I have a business and pay these types for taxes and more for the privilege of giving someone employment. I've never understood it. Corporations don't pay taxes; they just hide the true taxation on the individual.

Giving someone a job?

You speak of that as if it's a charitable thing. And in some rare cases, it may be. But for the most part, people are hired to perform tasks, tasks that the owner of said business is paid by a third party for. And when the owner hires that person, he (or she) has taken that individual out of the job market, and away from other opportunities for employment. Ergo, when that employer decides to terminate said employment, there should be some responsibility attached.

In a recession, it might seem like charity to hire someone, but it isn't. Especially when an employer can get a hold of somebody who is worth $50,000 a year and pay them half of that.

"Taken that individual out of the job market?"

Really? At minimum, doesn't it work both ways? An employer trains and compensates an employee at a mutually agreed level yet an employee can leave whenever they want. An employee terminates an agreement without consequence. We're all selling something for "profit" even if it is only our time.

It is all a sham anyway. ONLY the individual pays taxes and that is because there is nowhere for the individual to pass the buck to. Corporations are not people and they don't pay taxes. Increasing taxes on corporations is simply a ruse to pull on the masses to get them to voluntarily, if not enthusiastically, support raising taxes on themselves.

If they leave whenever they want,

they're not eligible for unemployment benefits. And if they do so for trivial reasons and without some kind of solid plan to replace that income, the consequences of that action will be substantial.

Believe me, I've felt the sting of losing employees who have left for (what they hope are) better opportunities, but sometimes that takes more guts than remaining in a job that may be secure, but offers little chance of upward mobility. And I'd hazard a guess that most successful entrepreneurs faced that decision at some point, although I'm not sure that would make them a better boss down the road. ;)

I don't believe employers are evil, but I don't believe they're "good", either. They are what they do. Which means, if we write laws that allow them to wield too heavy a hand in the employer/employee relationship, they will take advantage of it. And if we allow them to ignore other laws governing that relationship, we'll soon find ourselves with no middle class at all.