US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stopped in Boston recently for an important birthday celebration — one that impacts thousands of millions of families in Massachusetts and across the country. As part of a nationwide tour to raise awareness and push for improvements, Pelosi joined with US Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville), local leaders and activists to cut the cake in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can check out excerpts from the event in the video above.
President Clinton signed the historic Family & Medical Leave Act in 1993 with the goal of protecting workers who needed to take care of sick or injured family members. Since its implementation, FMLA leave has been used more than 100 million times by an estimated 35 million men and women — helping a generation of children get a healthy start in life and allowing parents and seniors to care for themselves and their loved ones without having to sacrifice their jobs or health insurance.
Though the event celebrated the important role that the Family & Medical Leave Act has played in the lives of American families over the past 20 years, there was also a recognition that our work is far from done. The original bill left out two-fifths of the workforce, and several million workers a year who are eligible for FMLA and need leave don’t take it – mostly because they cannot afford to go without pay. That’s where Pelosi’s new bill, the federal Healthy Families Act comes into play — as well as a host of state-level initiatives promoting ‘earned paid sick time.’ These bills will help close gaps in the FMLA and allow 30 million more workers to earn paid sick days nationwide.
Here in Massachusetts, political leaders and advocates are fighting to secure earned paid sick time for Bay State workers who currently do not have access. The 2013 Earned Paid Sick Time Bill, introduced in January by Sen. Dan Wolf and Rep. Kay Kahn, would enable eligible workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked — extending protection to nearly one million people in Massachusetts who are currently forced to choose between their health and their paycheck.
The 2013 Earned Paid Sick Time Bill would be a major boost for workers like Terry Brinig from Boston, who has worked as a bus driver for more than 30 years without access to paid sick days. With a son who suffers from a chronic and serious illness, Terry is forced to lose wages and risks losing her job by taking time from work to care for him in the hospital. Nearly one-third of the Massachusetts workforce faces these same decisions every day, underscoring the real need for action on the state and federal level
Fortunately, champions like Nancy Pelosi, State Sen. Dan Wolf and State Rep. Kay Khan are taking action to strengthen the Family & Medical Leave Act and secure earned paid sick time for our families. To learn more about the fight or find out how you can get involved, visit the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition website: http://www.masspaidleave.org/