Family Values @ Work Director Ellen Bravo participated in the Work Family Strategy Council press conference on polling numbers. Here is her statement:
Behind each poll number is a story of someone trying their best to be a good parent, or to honor a parent, or to care for a partner in sickness as in health, or to follow doctor’s orders, and facing economic hardship for doing just that.
What’s new in these stories isn’t the need or the support for common sense policy solutions. What’s new is voters’ understanding that change is possible and that people like them can help make that happen. What they can’t do on their own is possible if they band together with others. And more and more people tell us it’s an honor to be part of that process.
Over the last decade 35 locations in the US. have won paid sick days, creating access for the first time for more than 11 million people. Four states have won paid family leave that will bring access to more than 25 million people. Just this year we’ve seen paid sick days pass in 7 cities, including the first 2 midwestern cities, Minneapolis and Chicago. Look for more this year – in St. Paul and Duluth, and ballot initiatives in two of the states that were polled, AZ and WA, as well as Albuquerque, NM. New York became the fourth state to win PFL, and DC hopes to become fifth also this year. 2016 will be the winningest year to date on these issues, and more victories are on the horizon for 2017. The momentum is truly undeniable.
Driving that momentum are people like Kathy Ortega, a fast food worker in Tucson who goes to work when her asthma acts up because her family depends on her paycheck and she has no paid sick days; Hila Ritter in Portland who had to rely on food stamps after her baby was born even though she and her husband both work full-time; and Jessica Karabian in Southampton, PA who has stage IV breast cancer and knows paid leave might have helped her keep her job, allowed her husband more time to care for her and their 3-year-old daughter to go to preschool, something they can’t afford.
All these stories tell one over-arching story to politicians: we’re not voiceless, we just haven’t been heard before. And we are making ourselves heard.