Finding a business that offers family friendly benefits is a rare thingJanuary 14, 2015
Dear President Obama,
I am a low wage worker at Wal-Mart in Commerce City, Colorado. I am a leader with 9to5 Colorado and OUR Walmart, and actively work to improve working conditions and family medical leave policies with these organizations. Having policies like family medical leave insurance would relieve an incredible burden for workers like me. I believe that family comes first, and these kinds of policies would afford all workers, especially women, the ability to care or for themselves or their children like they should.
Last March, I had an allergic reaction to the new shoes I had bought for work. As a result, I was not been able to work for three weeks while my skin is healing from a horrible rash that caused blisters and scabs. This created such a financial burden for me that I got shut off notices from the water and utility companies, had no money for groceries, and I wasn’t even sure whether or not I would be able to pay the rent in April.
If I had access to any kind of paid family medical leave I would not be faced with the possibility of being homeless because of an unforeseen illness. Wage replacement provided by a family medical leave insurance law would have helped me cover enough expenses so that I could have eaten more than mac-n-cheese and fried egg sandwiches for an entire week. The thought has even occurred to me that maybe if I had money to eat, then maybe I would have healed faster because I would be eating more than one meal a day.
Family medical leave insurance policies would also answer the prayers of many of my coworkers. This past Christmas, one of the cashiers came to work for almost a week straight with walking pneumonia despite doctor’s orders to stay home. Being the sole provider for her child, she could not afford to go without her wages. Many other times in my six years at Wal-Mart I have seen single mothers sneaking a phone call to a child who was sick and crying alone, wanting mom to come home. My coworkers would be scrunched down behind a clothing rack trying to comfort their child over the phone quickly before management walked by.
It is no secret that finding a business that offers family friendly benefits is a rare thing. Modest paid family medical leave laws would give mothers and fathers the ability to take care of their children. It would give low wage workers like myself the ability to heal without facing eviction or going hungry.
If raising the minimum wage is a great first step to helping our economy, passing paid family medical leave policies would be the imperative second step. I am asking you to please support the federal FAMILY Act and push Governor Hickenlooper to support the Colorado Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act. It would keep people who are living in poverty from having to choose between having money to pay rent and taking care of themselves or a sick family member. On top of the benefits to workers, the employer also benefits. This makes it beneficial for everyone, which is better for our economy.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Commerce City, CO