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Premature baby in hospital, hooked up to wires.
This baby's parents should get some paid leave, dammit.
Family leave is one of the many ways the United States lags behind its peers on workers' rights, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) aim to change that. The two Democrats are pushing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which would create a national insurance system allowing workers paid leave time to deal with their own serious health conditions or those of family members. Even families with health insurance struggle when the choice is between being available to take care of a sick loved one or going to work and getting a paycheck:
In a testimony gathered by the New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition, a mother named Devorah from Rosendale, N.Y. recalled the hardships she faced when her daughter was born premature with a severe medical condition and continued to suffer from long-term medical problems in later years. Though her family had some insurance protection, Devorah said, "By the time we walked out of the hospital with our baby, we had spent an additional $30,000 out of pocket." In her daughter's first years, she went on:
There were times when ... we didn’t pay our bills. We didn't pay the gas company or the oil company or the phone company. If there was a choice between prescription drugs and groceries, we bought prescription drugs. If there was a choice between groceries and the phone bill, we went without a phone. ... And it’s taken us six years to dig our way out of the financial hole that this dumped us into.
Workers would get up to 12 weeks of leave in a year, receiving 66 percent of their pay (up to a capped amount). The benefits would be financed by small employee and employer payroll contributions—small as in two-tenths of one percent, or two cents for every $10 in wages—and available to all workers insured by Social Security Disability Insurance, not just those currently eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act. It would be administered by the Social Security Administration, an agency that knows a little something about handling social insurance funded by payroll contributions. And the plan is modeled on similar programs that are already working, and working well, in California and New Jersey; another begins in Rhode Island in 2014.

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act fills a clear need: people often report that the reason they don't take FMLA's unpaid leave is that they can't afford to do so. It's modeled on programs that already work. It's humane. It would especially help women, since women are both most likely to be caregivers and are, on average, paid less than men. It's crazy that the United States doesn't already have a law like this. Yet until and unless Democrats control the House, Senate, and presidency, we can count on Republicans blocking it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 07:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Republicans might not block this (0+ / 0-)

    It's a flat tax that everyone pays, and they will like that. It's also not a plan that requires employers to fund family leave, and the GOP will like that. It's based on the same concept we have here in CA where pregnancy and birth are deemed a "disability" which allows new mothers to collect benefits.

    We could be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, this is a great idea with a very good financing model.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 08:44:35 AM PST

  •  Oh, the GOTP certainly will block it (0+ / 0-)

    It would benefit so many people, it is the morally correct thing to do, it is is widely supported by American families and workers, it is what civilized countries do for their citizens - for all these very good reasons, the GOTP will block it. They are incapable of doing the right thing, even if the will to do it was there.

  •  I love this idea... (5+ / 0-)

    Having the government collect taxes for this purpose, rather than making individual employers have to cover the costs makes so much sense.

    I don't see it passing, unfortunately, but definitely a reasonable solution we should be pushing for.

    What about covering the costs of health insurance over that time?

  •  Why wasn't this part of the ACA? (8+ / 0-)

    It seems like it would've been a natural fit. After watching my sister try to cope with her husbands death several years ago, I just can't imagine who we expect people to just pick up and go back to work the day after a tragedy or while caring for their sick/injured loved ones.

    "Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Elie Wiesel

    by Jason Hackman on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 06:19:10 PM PST

  •  Paid Family Leave from the Party of Stupid Which (5+ / 0-)

    loves Lifelong Unpaid Internships, Child Labor, Unequal Pay for Women's Equal Work, Obscene Income Inequality, etc. ---- I can hear the conservative trash screaming "deadbeats", "moochers", "freeloaders". "there is NO Free lunch", "takers", etc. etc.

  •  It was never an issue at my school (5+ / 0-)

    for years - when my mother had a stroke and I had to travel out of state, there was no question of whether or not I had enough sick days to do it.  It was like this for everyone until the day the new president hired an HR person.  The first thing she did was ask me for the leave records; she was shocked when I said there weren't any.  She spent 3 months working backward from what small bits of data existed and presented each of us with a record of how man days we had stored and issued forms to be filled out requesting time off.  Everyone was pissed.  Until the day I retired I conspired with people who needed extra days and we just didn't report them.

  •  Someone should tell the GOP it's a way of telling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the mother, "Thank you for not aborting the baby!"

  •  Ya know.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, RadGal70, Lencialoo

    About 20 years ago (give or take), I was happily embarking on a career in the art of selling books.  I loved it, and I loved being where I was.
    My Mom became desperately ill.  This person who took care of me when I needed being taken care of was ill and needed care.  (A little background....we had the typical mother/daughter non-relationship....all important and all non-important, a sort of love/hate, give me advice/I don't want advice kinda relationship).
    She had been in and out of the hospital, never giving my brother or me an inkling of the seriousness of her illness.  She was a very independent gal.  Both of us were over 2000 miles away and got our information via her phone calls.  Not good enough.  I traveled home and spoke with her doctor (who was an angel in disguise).  She was really, really ill.
    There was really never any question.  I will be there for you.  As you were for me.
    And I came home.  On Family Leave.  And my mom got better.  Not better better, but better so we had two full years to get to know each other, and correct anything/everything that may have been between/against us.  Very simply, we became friends.  It was the best of times, and the worst of times.
    I wouldn't have had it any other way.  And neither would she.
    That's the good.
    The bad....I was terminated from my job after 12 weeks because I was supposed to return to work, but at that point my mom was still in need of care.  It would have helped immeasurably to have had some sort of income. (I did work, in a variety of jobs....some really interesting (most I would have never thought of attempting before!), but none paid well.
    I guess what I'm saying is that Family Leave is crucially important to the integrity of the family.  But families must live, and that takes money.  And something needs to be done about that.  Definitely.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 07:09:48 PM PST

  •  This is so heartbreaking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, Lencialoo

    My daughter-in-law has NO paid maternity leave despite her government job. It's a crying shame there's no paid maternity leave!

    Men, on the other hand, can get disability if they break a leg hunting or skiing. It's not fair!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 07:13:13 PM PST

  •  You can't have it both ways (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, Ishmaelbychoice

    Republicans soap-box about American family values - what could be more valuable for healthy families than starting their children off on the right foot?

    •  Oh! Yes! You can! And do, right now, in fact. (0+ / 0-)

      You have very accurately illustrated the inherent paradox here.  The Teabaghead/Republiklan party DOES, INDEED "soap-box" about "American family values.  And, that's all they do, "soap-box", about it.

      As a group of people, called a "political party", the Teabaghead/Republiklans, in reality, neither have any "family values" - American or other - nor do they actually bother to even offer candidates who pretend to live according to a defined set of "family values" - American or other - when the chips are down.

  •  I think this is pretty simple. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Everyone should have the same benefits that members of Congress have:  If you're sick, you get paid for however many months you need to take off from your job in order to get treatment for your disease, condition, ailment, all the while still maintaining your paid health benefits.  

    I would never want to drag down these benefits to others, I would want to help lift everyone else up to have these same benefits.

    I will, if asked, give a list of names of Congresspeople who had devastating illnesses who were able to take months and months off from work without losing their paycheck or healthcare benefits.  I'm sure "you" can think of a couple of them right away.

    I can't speak to the issue with Congresspeople having family members who need care or those who have had deaths of immediate family members regarding how much time they took off, but I'm positive that the time they took off from work was compensated.  And I feel pretty confident in saying that they're wealthy enough to hire people to give 24/7 care to their family members who are ill.

  •  Three days old and already a taker (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He could at least mop the floors or change his own diapers, the lazy 47%er!

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 08:32:59 PM PST

  •  Because I can't resist... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darth Stateworker

    Wow, you guys are truly screwed up down there aren't you?

    In Canada parental leave (maternity and paternity) is simply part of the standard (Un)Employment Insurance that you pay into anyway.

    Did I mention most people have paid sick leave? And paid vacations are pretty much standard.

    What advantage, precisely, has not having all these things given Americans?

    •  That's a good question. (0+ / 0-)

      Liberals will not be able to answer it, because we see no advantage to it.

      But give it some time, and Republicans will come up with some sort of word salad that they feel explains why people don't need any sort of leave.  Not that it will make a lick of sense, but that's what they do.

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