By Amy Wilson, 9to5 Action Network member in Phoenix, AZ
Formerly Jesuit Volunteer at 9to5 Atlanta and Work/Family intern at 9to5 Wisconsin
Pictured center, spreading the word about paid family leave with other 9to5 members
Growing up, I didn’t realize that many people could not take paid time off work for a loved one’s serious injury or illness. My worldview was a little distorted because I lived in California where we had passed the Paid Family Leave Act. On top of that, my mom was an elementary school teacher and part of a union. I did not realize until I started working at 9to5 just how distorted my reality was and just how important it was to continue fighting for paid family leave for everyone.
Around the same time that I started working at 9to5 in Georgia, my aunt became very sick, and she was in and out of the hospital. My mom needed to miss a couple of days of work to be there for her sister. A few months after that, my dad had to have surgery on both of his knees. Although things had not changed as it related to workplace policies, my appreciation for paid leave had changed. I was able to see how blessed my family was to have paid family leave and not worry about losing their jobs or their paycheck.
This week I’m completing an internship with 9to5 Wisconsin, where I have read and connected with individuals with amazing stories about how paid and unpaid leave has affected their lives. This experience once again confirmed for me how important paid family leave and how important 9to5’s work is. Through these individual stories, I learned how difficult it is to see a family member sick, but it is even harder to face an impossible choice between caring for the family you love and maintaining the income you need.
What I love about 9to5 is that even though I was working with individuals’ stories, there came a moment when it was no longer the individuals’ fight alone. Instead, their struggle became a collective fight for justice.
Join me, and this collective struggle – contact your legislators and urge them to support the FAMILY Act, because everyone, in every state, deserves access to paid family and medical leave.