9to5 Wisconsin members and the Keep Families First (KFF) Coalition held a legislative briefing June 20 to release a new report, “Analyzing Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance in WI: Possible Costs and Effects” by researchers at UW Madison LaFollette School of Public Policy.
The report found that caregivers in Wisconsin provide an estimated 538 million hours annually of unpaid care for relatives with serious illnesses and bonding with a new child. Because Wisconsin lacks a paid family and medical leave (PFML) program, workers have few options when they or their family members fall ill. 9to5 commissioned this report as part of its ongoing efforts to win affordable time to care in Wisconsin. The report analyzes a piece of legislation that presents Wisconsin with its first state-based paid family medical leave program.
The report highlights what 9to5 has heard from thousands of families through decades of working on this issue. Working families face true hardships because of the lack of paid leave – from not being able to care for dying parents to losing pay or a job because of a sick child or a bout with cancer. Businesses also want to provide paid leave but most can’t afford to. Angela, a restaurant owner, said she supports the concept but can’t do it on her own. A paid family leave fund would do just that – and help ensure healthier workplaces for all.
A packed room of legislators heard from the experts including 9to5 members:
– Chineva Smith of Milwaukee, who lost jobs to care for her special needs son and her own emergency heart surgery;
– Mary Pirello of Racine whose son became violently ill and lived in a hospital for 30 days teetering on the brink of life yet, she had to go to work because she couldn’t afford to lose her job or her insurance; and
– Stacy Baugh of Racine who shared her struggle as a new mom with postpartum depression and ended up unemployed because she didn’t have paid time to get the care she needed.
These women are part of the powerful movement of grassroots advocates leading the fight for change in Wisconsin and across the country.
9to5 is part of the Family Values at Work network that supports states to become part of the growing movement. Connecticut just passed a comprehensive paid family and medical leave bill and Oregon is poised to do so soon, which will bring the total number of state paid leave policies to nine – tripling the number in just over three years. 9to5 members and the KFF coalition are in discussion with the Governor’s office to pursue new ways to make Wisconsin a national leader in this movement and paid leave a reality for all Wisconsin workers and businesses.