We Need Support for Families
By Aaron Keating, Communications and Operations Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, and a PSARA member
Hard-line conservatives in the state Senate are trying to repeal Washington’s family leave insurance plan in upcoming budget negotiations – you can help stop them in their tracks.
Since taking over the state Senate un- der Sen. Rodney Tom this year, hard-line conservatives have launched attack after attack on Washington’s family leave insur- ance plan. Their latest effort: A taskforce – stacked with family leave opponents – to decide the fate of family leave.
Here’s the catch: if the task force doesn’t come up with a funding source, family leave insurance is automatically repealed. In other words, it’s a smoke screen so legislators can repeal family leave without looking like they’re taking an anti-family vote.
to the House, where it will become part of budget negotiations during the upcom- ing special session. But with your help, we can make sure the Senate’s plan is DOA in the House.
Contact your legislators in the Washington State House (1-800-562-6000) and tell them: Don’t accept the Senate plan to repeal family leave insurance. We don’t need a taskforce – we need concrete action to protect Washington’s workers and their families. That means expanding paid leave protections, not rolling them back.
Here’s the backstory: In 2007, Washing- ton legislators created family leave insur- ance to ensure that parents of a newborn or newly adopted child could take up to 5 weeks of partially paid leave. That plan has since been twice delayed, as legisla- tors haven’t identified a funding source.
To hear some legislators talk about it – and this is on both sides of the aisle, mind you – you’d think there’s nothing to be done, the funding just isn’t there, etc. But that’s simply not true. In fact, this year the Washington Work and Family Coalition put a very specific and straight- forward proposal in front of legislators: let Washington’s workers insure themselves to replace those lost wages when it really counts.
It’s modeled on what works in several other states, and it’s called Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI). FMLI
provides workers up to 12 weeks to care for a new child or a sick family member, and up to 12 weeks for the worker’s own serious health condition. Workers receive 2/3 of usual weekly pay, up to $1,000 per week, and the cost is shared equally between workers and employers – about 2/10th of 1% of total pay.
To put that in concrete terms, some- one earning $50,000 per year would pay about $50 per year in premiums, matched by their employer, and be eligible for $641.35 each week they are on leave. We’re bringing that proposal back to legislators again next year – but in the meantime, we have to stop conservative senators from repealing family leave insurance during upcoming budget negotiations.
So please, contact your legislators in the Washington State House (1-800-562- 6000) and tell them: Vote NO on SB 5903. The task force is a waste of time and money. Protect Washington’s workers and families by expanding paid leave protec- tions, not rolling them back.
Whether caring for a child, an elderly parent, a partner or yourself, all people occasionally need access to paid time off for their own health and that of a loved one. Please take 5 minutes today to urge your Representatives to do the right thing for Washington’s workers and families. Thank you for taking action today!
The Senate’s task-force plan now heads