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December 11, 2013

Local Sick Days and Family Leave Laws Help 20 Million Americans; Pave the Way for Introduction of Federal FAMILY Act

Contact: Alex Edwards, alex.edwards@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-8691

(New York, NY) – Family Values @ Work (FV@W), a national consortium of coalitions in 21 states, has won historic victories for paid sick days and affordable family leave in 10 years of organizing. In total, FV@W and its partners are responsible for local laws that are impacting nearly 20 million Americans nationwide, helping ensure that workers don’t have to choose between the families they love and the jobs they need. Additional paid sick days wins are expected

The 10-year celebration comes during a year of record victories. In 2013 alone, the diverse coalitions have helped pass paid sick days inPortland, OregonNew York City; and Jersey City, New Jersey; and a precedent-setting family leave insurance fund in Rhode Island. Additional paid sick days wins are expected in Washington, DC and Newark, NJ before the end of the year. Other victories include the expanded definition of family under state law in Colorado and California and studies of paid family leave in Vermont and Connecticut. With increasing public support for common-sense policies that value families, the growing number of local policies are paving the way for federal legislation, including the introduction of the FAMILY Act.

“Elected leaders can’t just pay lip service to family values,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. “They must champion new rules that truly value families at work. Thanks to Family Values @ Work coalitions and their partners, paidsick days are passing – and will continue to pass – in city halls and state governments across the country.”

Formed in 2003, FV@W has grown to more than 1,000 diverse grassroots organizations, ranging from restaurant owners to faith leaders, seniors to public health professionals On its tenth anniversary, the organization’s presence, influence and success continue to grow. Among FV@W’s many legislative victories, include:

  • Paid sick days in San Francisco, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., Seattle, the state of Connecticut, Portland, New York City, and Jersey City, NJ.
  • Family and Medical leave insurance in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
  • Paid Parental Leave in Washington State.

“As a local activist, having the leadership and support of Family Values @ Work in the fight for paid sick days in Seattle was critical to our success,” said Natasha West-Baker, a former grocery store clerk from Seattle, Washington and recipient of FV@W’s Community Activist award. “As the sole income earner in my household, I could not afford to lose a day’s pay. Now, Seattle workers don’t have to face this dilemma.”

These local wins are laying the groundwork for national legislation such as the FAMILY Act. The bill, which is set to be introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the Senate andRep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House of Representatives, would create a social insurance fund for workers when they need time for family or medical reasons – resulting in significant benefits for their families, businesses and our economy.

Currently, only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers and more than 60 percent lack access to personal medical leave through an employer-provided temporary disability program. That means millions of workers who develop serious health conditions, have seriously ill familymembers or become parents, are forced to choose between what is best for them and their families and the income they need to cover basic expenses.

“I’m honored to be recognized by Family Values @ Work as they celebrate their tenth anniversary,” said Gloria Steinem, leading author and activist, and recipient of FV@W’s Community Partner award. “The coalitions in this network are winning at a time when victories are few – by building public support, mobilizing key constituents, winning the economic argument and allying with partners across the political spectrum. Family Values @ Work is a model of what good advocacy looks like.”

FV@W has worked closely with business owners and economic experts to show that policies like paid sick days and affordable family leave boost productivity, bolster businesses’ bottom line and strengthen the economy. California employers have reported that paid family leave has had a neutral or positive effect on employee productivity, profitability and turnover, while a recent Rutgers study shows that New Jersey’s FMLI program has saved businesses money by improving employee retention, decreasing turnover costs and improving productivity.

“It’s an honor to partner with – and be recognized by – FV@W, whose local coalitions show what thousands of business owners like myself already know: paid sick days and family leave insurance benefit families, business and the economy,” said Jim Houser, co-owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland and recipient of FV@W’s Business Partner award. “Unlike corporate lobbyists who claim to speak on behalf of small business, FV@W represents the position of small business owners across the country. With FV@W’s help, support for paid sick days and family leave will only continue to grow.” 


Follow Family Values @ Work 10th anniversary on Twitter at: #FVAW10.

Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states working to pass policies that value families at work such as paid sick days and affordable family leave. More information is available at http://familyvaluesatwork.org. And read the personal stories of working people across the country who have benefittedfrom affordable family leave or suffered due to the lack of protection.