Of course Hillary Clinton went to work sick. That’s the American way.

hillary-clintonAs Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton demonstrated when she nearly collapsed from the effects of walking pneumonia early this week, the benefits of running for elected office may include many things, but sick days are not among them.

This is perhaps unavoidable in light of the fact that the job of actually being an elected official doesn’t allow for much rest and recuperation, either — see, for instance, John F. Kennedy plowing ahead despitecrippling back pain and Addison’s disease, which he wanted to conceal from the public; and George H.W. Bush ignoring a doctor’s advice in 1992 to stay in bed rather than attend a state dinner in Japan, with the result being that he vomited on the Japanese prime minister. “The president is human,” Bush’s physician told reporters at the time. “He gets sick.”

Clinton offers quiet policy lure to millions of unpaid caregivers

With the general election looming in November, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, the presumed nominees, are turning their attention to independent voters who may determine the outcome of the hotly contested presidential race.

Although not a hot button issue like immigration or trade policy, Clinton’s plan to alleviate the financial stress of caregiving—whether for a child or other family member—may be an important wedge issue to attract independent voters, especially women.

The subject gained attention last week when a research center in Berkeley, California, released a negative assessment of employment conditions and practices among early childhood workers, a predominantly female workforce.

Clinton is proposing a 3-pronged plan to alleviate the financial stress of caregiving: tax credits to help offset up to $6,000 in annual caregiving costs for elderly family members; providing credits towards monthly Social Security retirement benefits for caregivers who leave the paid labor force to care for elderly relatives; and expanding state-level grants to improve respite care access for family caregivers of children or adults of any age.

So far, Trump has not said much above caregiving, beyond backing on-site child care by employers. “It’s not expensive for a company to do it,” he has said.

Full Story: Women’s e-News »

Home Economics: The Link Between Work-Life Balance and Income Equality

The central conflict of domestic life right now isn’t men versus women or mothers versus fathers; it’s the family against money.

The solution to the work-life conundrum is not “enlisting men” in the domestic sphere. The solution is establishing social supports that allow families to function. The fact is, men can’t have it all, for the same reason women can’t: whether or not the load is being shared 50-50 doesn’t matter if the load is still unbearable. It will not become bearable once women lean in, or once the consciousness is raised, or once men are full partners, always, in domestic life. It will become bearable when decidedly more quotidian things become commonplace—like paid parental leave and affordable, quality day care.

Full Story: The Atlantic »

Study: Longer maternity leave linked to better infant health

cute baby

Photo: Hebe Aguilera via Flickr Creative Commons

[Original: UPI] For each additional month a woman has paid maternity leave, infant mortality decreases by more than 10 percent, according to a new study of births in 20 countries.

Researchers at McGill University and the University of California Los Angeles found paid maternity leave has a significant impact on infant mortality in low- and high-income countries, echoing previous research that has shown the same.

Paid maternity leave reduces stress, increases the chances for breastfeeding and other infant care, and allows a mother to seek more medical attention for herself after having a baby.

Although 188 countries have guaranteed paid leave for new mothers, though how much varies greatly from country to country — in Canada and some European countries, women get one year of paid time off, while countries such as Papua New Guinea, Suriname and the United States have no guaranteed paid maternity leave.

“While this study focuses on low- and middle-income countries, the impact in high-income countries is also well demonstrated,” Dr. Jody Heymann, a former researcher at McGill and dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California Los Angeles, in a press release. “For the health of our children and the well-being of families, the U.S. needs to catch up with most of the world and ensure all new parents have paid parental leave.”

Full story »

Ted Cruz to working mother: Don’t push it on paid family leave

hanauer quote[Via Civic Skunk Works] Here at Civic Skunk Works, we’ve spent a quite a bit of time pointing out that trickle-down economics has never been anything more than an intimidation tactic masquerading as an economic theory. For decades, politicians (from both parties) and businesses have been employing this tactic in order to scare workers into paralysis. Think about the claims which trickle-down proponents have repeated over and over again:

  • “If you raise the minimum wage, jobs will be lost.”
  • “If you tax the wealthy, jobs will be lost.”
  • “If regulation of the powerful goes up, jobs will be lost.

In short, don’t push it, buddy.

And this Monday, Ted Cruz provided a perfect illustration of this bullying tactic. The Texas senator was asked by a mother of four “what he would do about the current lack of federally mandated paid family leave.” A very good question on a very important subject which affects all working Americans. According to Think Progress, Cruz callously replied:

Giving away free stuff is very easy for politicians to do, but the simplest rule of economics is TANSTAAFL — there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Anything a politician gives you, he must first take from you. And so if you have the federal government mandate paid medical leave,what that ends up doing is driving up the cost of labor for low-income workers.

What he’s saying is: don’t ask for too much or you’ll be priced out of a job. And just in case this mother of four missed the veiled threat, he hammers the point home when he adds, “And by the way, if you get fired or laid off, not only do you not get paid family leave but you don’t get a paycheck either.”

Do you see how slimy this strategy is? Do you see how strong-handed this approach is? Do you see how they are striking fear and doubt into the minds of American workers?

And this isn’t anything new. This is how Republicans and businesses have been framing workplace benefits for a very long time. They’ve perpetually tried to scare the American worker by threatening to cut their jobs if they ever asked for too much. (What they define as “too much” has been ever-changing. Forty years ago occupational health and safety fit under such a category, today it’s paid leave, tomorrow it may be vacation time.) In economically anxious times they know this intimidation tactic often works. Why take a chance and try to push for better benefits if your job is already in the balance?

The truth is paid family leave is actually good for businesses, the worker, and society in general. For businesses specifically paid leave improves worker retention, increases worker productivity, and improves employee loyalty and morale. How do we know this? Well, for one, paid family leave insurance programs “are already working well in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.” That’s right – paid leave already exists in the three states and none of those state economies has nosedived into economic catastrophe. As Think Progresshighlights:

Evidence from the first two states shows that [paid family leave programs] haven’t hurt employers. About 90 percent of California businesses say that it either had a positive impact or none on profitability, employee performance, and productivity, while it helped reduce turnover, saving them an estimated $89 million each year. Themajority of New Jersey businesses surveyed also said that it hasn’t hurt their finances and some saw a benefit.

The job-killing dystopia which Ted Cruz foreshadowed to the mother of four is simply a trick. Thankfully, we know why politicians like Cruz are continuing to sell this scam to the American worker: because if he can get workers to believe this scary tale, big businesses and their politicians win.

Congratulations on paid sick and safe leave, Spokane!

spokane-sick-and-safe-leave-300x300On January 11, 2016, the Spokane City Council passed an ordinance assuring most people working in the city the right to earn paid sick and safe leave starting next year.  The Council voted 6 to 1 for the ordinance.

At the start of Monday evening’s 5 ½ hour long council meeting, the policy on the table provided for only three days of paid sick time. After listening to testimony from over 50 people – the overwhelming majority of them favoring a universal policy of at least five days, the Council amended the proposal. The ordinance as passed allows workers to earn an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 5 days in companies with 10 or more employees, and up to 3 days in smaller firms. Paid leave can be used for the health needs of the worker or a family member, bereavement, and to deal with the consequences of domestic violence or sexual assault.

The Spokane Alliance led the Earned Sick and Safe Time Spokane Coalition in a remarkable two-year organizing effort that included a listening tour with over 50 small businesses and nonprofits, multiple community forums, and collecting stories of impacted workers. They coordinated testimony and turnout at hearings and events, submission of letters to the editor and op-eds, and the delivery of over 1,000 public comments to Council members.

Spokane is the first jurisdiction in 2016 to pass a paid sick days law. In 2015, Tacoma was first out of the gate. Four states and more than 20 U.S. cities, including Seattle, SeaTac, and Portland, now have sick leave laws in place.


Testimony of Marilyn Watkins, EOI Policy Director »

Testimony of Kira Lewis, RN, BSN »

What’s missing from Amazon’s new parental leave policy

dad office babyAmazon made a big announcement [in November] about parental leave. This comes after the firestorm following the New York Times article on Amazon’s office culture (including how unfriendly it was to new parents).

In an email message forwarded to Jezebel, Amazon is now going to offer up to 20 weeks of parental leave for birth mothers, and six weeks for all other new parents. The policy includes a new “leave-share” program aimed to help Amazon employees share their leave time with partners who may not have a leave policy at their workplace. There’s also a “ramp-back” program, which is designed help new parents transition back to work.

“One hopes that [Amazon’s policies] are about boosting morale,” Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, tells Fast Company. The national network of 21 state and local coalitions aims to grow the movement for family-friendly work policies.

“All these policies are great,” says Bravo, especially the leave share, as it acknowledges that many partners need affordable leave but don’t get it. “You have to have a clear message from the top on paper,” she adds. But Bravo believes there’s something important missing from the announcement.

Full story: Fast Company »