Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced the Family Act, a bill that would grant every employee in the country access to up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. It’s a move that’s been long in coming. Really long.
At the end of September, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her Opportunity Plan promoting progressive economic policies for women. The plan includes Gillibrand’s proposed FAMILY Act. The legislation builds upon the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows certain workers—public-sector employees or private-sector ones who have been employed for at least a year—to take unpaid leave for child care or health reasons.
Dunkin Donuts is getting a sweet deal. The company enjoyed $108.3 million in profits last year and compensated its CEO, Nigel Travis, to the tune of $1.9 million. Meanwhile, the public paid an estimated $274 million to feed, provide medical care, and subsidize the wages of their workforce. And Dunkin Donuts is not alone or even the worst offender: new studies out today from the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, the University of Illinois, and the National Employment Law Project detail just some of the vast scope of public subsidies for the fast food workforce.
Many mornings this year Matt Nuttall and his friend Ryan Faulkner met up in one of several neighborhood parks located between their houses in Pleasant Hill, California. While they changed diapers, dispensed snacks, and made sure their little ones didn’t fall off the playground equipment, the dads “talked to each other in adult,” as Nuttall puts it. Before too long, their children would begin to fade, and they’d head back to their respective houses to prepare lunch and oversee afternoon naps.
When Governor Lincoln Chaffee signed the Temporary Care Giver’s Insurance law last week, Rhode Island became the third state—along with California and New Jersey—to grant paid time off to care for a sick loved one or a new baby.
Rhode Island’s law, which goes into effect in 2014, will not only provide most workers with up to four weeks off with about two-thirds of their salaries (up to $752 a week), it will protect employees from being fired and losing their health insurance while they’re out.
It’s too late for Tonisha Howard, the mother of three in Milwaukee who was fired for leaving work to be with her hospitalized two-year-old. And for Felix Trinidad, who was so afraid of losing his job at Golden Farm fruit store in Brooklyn that he didn’t take time off to go to the doctor—even after he vomited blood. Trinidad, a father of two who had stomach cancer, continued to work until just days before his death from stomach cancer at age 34. But for workers in Portland and perhaps Philadelphia, paid sick days just got much closer to becoming reality.
The picture alone filled me with dread: a baby in a briefcase. (Do go look at Jessica Valenti’s hilarious compilation of images from this genre.) That sick feeling only increased when I got to the hideous headline: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
You might have heard about a study discussed this week on TheNew York Times Economix blog that says the motherhood payment gap is worse for low-income women in low-paying jobs than for women who earn more. In some respects, this is unsurprising: High-paying jobs also come with good benefits, like maternal leave and sick leave, that mitigate (but don't completely erase) the effects of missing work. A cruel irony of all that is, of course, women in those high-benefit jobs are less likely to have kids.
Connecticut might be closer to passing a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave, an effort that is similar to a bill proposed in the fall by Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd. But the Senate is tied up with bigger bills.
Courtney Martin writes that this International Women's Day, we should look at gender inequality in our own communities. Each day this week on TAPPED we will run a profile of an organization doing exactly that.
In a story that's provoked justified outrage, the Army has threatened single military mom Spc. Alexis Hutchinsonwith a military court marshal for refusing leave her 10-month-old and ship off to Afghanistan when none of her family members could care for the child. In a compassionate display of flexibility, her superiors offered her the alternative of putting the child in foster care. The whole episode seems to be a the result of military keeping an inadequate and inconsistent family policy.
Although the panic over H1N1 has abated, one advisory for preventing the spread of the illness has fueled a debate over paid sick leave. The CDC is encouraging workers to stay home if they feel ill, but only 40 percent of private-sector employees receive paid sick leave, and many of those those who do have it work under punitive policies designed to prevent employees from malingering.