Immediate Release: August 26, 2013
Contact: Susan Berryman-Rodriguez
9to5 National Day of Action in 21 cities calls for paid leave and work-family policies
MILWAUKEE, August 26, 2013 – August 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a groundbreaking law that has been used more than 100 million times, helping millions of workers keep their jobs while they cared for a family health crisis or a new baby.
“Unfortunately, because FMLA leave is generally unpaid and has eligibility restrictions, millions who qualify for it can’t afford to take it, and millions who’d like to benefit from it are excluded,” says Linda Meric, national executive director of 9to5.
Teresa Benns, from Del Norte, Colorado, is one of the fortunate ones who qualified for FMLA. As the primary caregiver for her husband, who is a veteran and disabled, Teresa is able to take unpaid leave. But like millions of working people, she can’t afford to. “If I take time off to care for my husband, I don’t get paid, and then I get behind on my mortgage and my bills,” says Benns.
“Being fired, or losing a day’s pay, for taking care of yourself or a loved one during an illness, means that working families can’t pay their rent, buy groceries, or repair their car – purchases that support local businesses,” says Meric.
Paid leave and work-family policies are all workers’ issues, but they are especially working women’s issues. Here’s why:
- Women represent 59 to 75 percent of family or informal caregivers.
- The average caregiver is age 46, female, married and working outside the home, earning an annual income of $35,000.
- FMLA covers less than half of the private sector workforce.
- Women make up more than half of the workforce.
On August 26 in celebration of Women’s Equality Day, 9to5 members in 21 cities across the country will be discussing the importance of family-flexible policies that allow people to care for themselves and their families without jeopardizing their jobs or economic security. 9to5 will be calling for jobs that boost families and communities at house parties, PTA meetings, childcare centers, college campuses and neighborhood gatherings across the country. There will be larger public events in Atlanta, Denver and Milwaukee.
“Family and medical leave insurance will allow women and families to maintain basic spending at a time they need it the most – contributing to stability of families, communities and a growing economy. It’s a simple common-sense solution that’s good for working families, local businesses and the economy,” says Meric.
Visit 9to5.org to learn more about 9to5’s National Day of Action and to sign our pledge to support family-flexible workplace policies. 9to5 National Day of Action activities are being planned in the following cities (list in formation):
Long Island, NY
Los Angeles, CA
San Jose, CA
About 9to5: Winning justice for working women for 40 years, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families. Through hands-on leadership development, grassroots organizing and policy advocacy, 9to5 organizes women in campaigns for family-supporting jobs with living wages and paid sick days; and stronger protections against workplace discrimination. 9to5 is one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S. To learn more or to get involved, visit 9to5.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Women’s Equality Day: Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, the culmination of the long struggle for full voting rights for women.