The AFL-CIO and the Coalition of Labor Union Women are today commemorating the 23rd anniversary since President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act. Actions include a thunderclap, social media buzz and a legislative push for up to seven days of paid sick leave.
Forty percent of private-sector workers do not have any paid sick time; that figure is a hefty 80 percent for low-wage workers, according to the AFL-CIO.
A documentary on paid leave — The Raising of America — is available for free streaming during the law’s anniversary period. Visit The Raising of America website from Feb. 1-15. Click here for a toolkit designed to help the film be used as an advocacy tool for paid leave.
The AFL-CIO reported that the FMLA has been used more than 200 million times by people who — thanks to the law — do not have to fear losing their job or their health insurance. The act has enabled them to address serious health problems, take care of a newborn or an adopted child, or to care for a seriously ill loved one.
But access to paid leave is still dependent on geography and job. Many people are either ineligible or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave that the FMLA provides.
“Paid family leave speaks to how our nation treats the family,” said Paul Pecorale, NYSUT vice president who oversees health care. “Workers need to know the country values their personal lives and respects the need to take care of unwelcome issues such as sickness. Holistically, if you think the breakdown of the family is one reason for many problems in our society – how can you not look for resolutions?”
Without some paid sick leave, President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, parents are forced to “make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”
The AFL-CIO is advocating for the Healthy Families Act, which would give workers the opportunity to earn up to seven paid sick days that could be used for personal illness or to care of sick family members. The bill has been introduced in Congress by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
CLUW, the U.S.’s only national union for women, is participating in the FMLA thunderclap – a digital flash mob — and tweet storm sponsored by the National Partnership for Women & Families. They will join other advocates in support of paid family and medical leave.
“We can’t wait to see you in action!” CLUW reports.
Here’s how to take action today:
- click #FMLA23 THUNDERCLAP before 1 p.m. E.T.;
- select the platform (for example, Twitter);
- share a pre-written message;
- and then click “Add My Support.”
All messages will then be sent at the same time.