Working Moms, Business Owners, Local Activists Travel to White House for First-Ever Summit on Working FamiliesJune 17, 2014
Event Comes as Support for Paid Sick Days, Family Leave at All Time High
Contact: Alex Edwards, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-800-8691
(Washington, DC) – As momentum grows for workplace policies that value families, local activists from across the country will travel to Washington, DC this week for the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, June 23. Family Values @ Work (FV@W), a network of coalitions in 21 states fighting for paid sick days and family and medical leave insurance, is sending more than 75 of its members, including working moms and dads, local coalition leaders, small business owners and elected officials, to the nation’s capital.
The Summit, which includes appearances by President Obama, the First Lady, and the Bidens, will feature a number of local leaders who are helping pass local and state family-friendly workplace policies at a record pace. The president has made the women’s economic agenda a critical component of his efforts to rebuild the economy, calling for an end to “Mad Men”-era policies in his 2014 State of the Union and urging Congress to bring the U.S. in line with “every other advanced nation by offering paid leave to workers.”
FV@W attendees who will play a prominent role at the Summit include Larry Kenny, a businessowner from New Jersey; Kevin Burgos, a dad from Connecticut fighting to protect paid sick days and raise the minimum wage; Melissa Bravo, a mother of three from North Carolina; Jason Butkowski, a New Jersey dad who benefited from that state’spaid family leave; 9to5 leaders Rev. Harriet Bradley from Atlanta and mother Shelby Ramirez from Denver; and Ellen Bravo, executive director of the organization and lifelong advocate for working families.
“The White House Summit shows just how far our movement has come,” said Arlyssa Heard, a leader of Mothering Justice in Detroit, Michigan, and FV@W activist who will be traveling to the White House Summit. “When I had to skip medical treatment because of a lack of paid sick days or was docked pay for being at the side of my son who deals with sickle cell anemia, I never imagined the victories our groups are winning – or that I’d be sharing my story with people all over the nation. But it also reminds us how far we have to go. How many workers still lack paid sick days, how many family members are still unable to take time off to care for a loved one. It’s exciting, but it’s only the beginning.”
Currently, 40 percent of the workforce lacks even a single paid sick days, and millions more can’t use their time to care for a sick child. Only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers to use for occasional longer leave to care for a newborn or sick family member; 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.
Fortunately, historic work-family victories at the local level have laid the ground work for national support, including the introduction of the FAMILY Act, a national paid family and medical leave insurance program; the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would establish nationwide paid sick days; and recent Senate hearings on working families. Since last year, four cities – New York City, Portland, Newark and Jersey City – passed paid sick days laws, joining San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C. and the state ofConnecticut. In New York City, where paid sick days was a powerful determinant in the Democratic primary, Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the city’s legislation to include an additional 300,000 workers, and Washington, DC added tipped workers.
Citywide paid sick days laws or ballot initiatives are currently under consideration in Chicago; Eugene, OR; Tacoma, WA; San Diego; Oakland and several places in New Jersey; and statewide initiatives are gaining steam in California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. Also in 2013, Rhode Island joined California and New Jersey in passing paid family leave, with New York, Colorado and other states considering similar legislation.
While legislation advances at the local level, more and more voters and politicians are supporting common-sense workplace policies. A recent poll by the Shriver Report found that 85% of women and 81% of men favor establishing paid family leave in the U.S. And an overwhelming majority (73%, and 78% ofwomen) said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports policies like paid sick days, as evidenced in the recent Democratic primary for New York City mayor.
“Both in public opinion and public policy, the momentum for paid sick days and paid family leave isundeniable,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. “The first-ever White House Summit on Working Families is yet another sign of animportant shift in this country: more workers are seeing the possibility ofchange, and more elected officials are recognizing that they need to be on the side of an economy that works for everyone. This Summit is a great opportunity for local leaders to take their experiences and successes directly to lawmakers on the national scale.”
Family Values @ Work 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. Studies of paid sick days laws passed in San Francisco and Seattle have shown no negative impact on local economies, and both cities outpaced neighbors that lacked earned sick time protection.
“The opportunity to offer paid sick days to employees shouldn’t be a dilemma”, said Larry Kenny, a small business owner from New Jersey who will be traveling to the White House Summit. “It’s just the right thing to do – for employees, businesses and for the economy. A healthier and more productive workforce benefits everyone and I’m thrilled that work-family issues are getting the attention they deserve.”
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. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #workingfamilies and @FmlyValuesWork.