Issues / Legislation » Legislative Weekly Reports

Week Ending January 30, 2015

Bill Introduced to Provide Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reintroduced the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (H.R. 532) with 25 Democratic co-sponsors.  The bill, introduced in every session of Congress since 2000, would require the government to give federal workers six weeks of paid parental leave to care for a newborn, newly adopted or foster child. Currently, federal employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of children but they can apply their earned sick and vacation leave to use for these family and medical leave purposes. 

Last week, President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to advance interested federal employees up to six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth or adoption of a child or other sick leave-eligible uses.  Together, the President’s action and Rep. Maloney’s bill would ensure that federal employees have access to the necessary paid family leave to care for and bond with a new baby or child and to recover from childbirth without exhausting sick leave.  “Making this bill a law would supplement the President’s executive order and enable federal workers to utilize this important family benefit,” said AFSCME’s President Lee Saunders. “Further, it sets an important precedent for all employers to adopt similar policies.”

AFSCME Council 26 President Saul Schniderman, who is also President of AFSCME Local 2910 (Library of Congress Professional Guild), spoke at the kick-off press conference with Rep. Maloney, noting that this critical benefit would enable employees to meet both “the demands of work and the needs of families.” The Council represents about 7,000 federal employees.

AFSCME has long fought for paid parental leave as a basic workers’ right. It is even more important today as women are primary or co-breadwinners in a majority of households. 

Obama Administration and U.S. Department of Labor Develop Investor Protections

Working families, retirees, and consumers are looking to President Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue sensible safeguards that would ensure that financial advisors provide investment advice that is in the best interests of their clients.  Typical clients – like families trying to save for a rainy day, kids’ college tuition, or retirement – are rarely sophisticated investors and thus rely on their advisors’ advice.  Unfortunately, a 1970’s-era “retirement advice loophole” continues to permit Wall Street banks, brokers, and certain investment advisors to put their profits ahead of their clients’ best interests.  It permits these advisors to provide advice biased by their financial conflict of interest, which over time gradually and significantly reduces financial returns for typical, unsophisticated investors.

In response, the Obama administration is developing a proposed “Fiduciary Rule” that would require investment advisors to put investors’ interests first.  It would stop advisors from recommending investment plans with unnecessarily higher costs and fees, which tend to significantly reduce long-term returns.  The Rule would also help ensure that advisors stop making money behind the scenes by purposely giving relatively bad advice to investors – knowing it increases advisors’ profits while reducing investors’ returns.  We expect this proposed rule will move soon to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  After White House approval, DOL would issue a proposed rule for public comment.  AFSCME strongly supports a fiduciary standard to restrain investment advisors and protect investors.  AFSCME also urges congressional members and stakeholders to support the DOL issuing its proposed rule and to defer judgment until the rule is released.  To learn more about this issue and how it affects your savings, please visit

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