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Paid Parental Leave

WHEREAS:

            Since the International Labor Organization adopted maternity leave in 1919, it laid the foundation for what we know as parental leave. Its original concept was to provide protection rights to the expectant mother, such as the right to cash; the right to medical benefits and most importantly job security; and

WHEREAS:

            The United States of America lags behind many other countries in its provision of time off for illness and to care for newborns and ill relatives. The United States along with Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guniea are the only five countries in the world that do not offer any paid leave for new mothers, while most other countries mandate that employers provide paid time off for illness. Moreover, only a handful of states in the U.S. require employers to have temporary disability programs, which pay benefits if the pregnancy is defined as a disability by a doctor; and

WHEREAS:

            The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. However, this is only if the employer is a covered employer with 50 or more employees, and only when the employee is eligible to be part of the program. In fact, because paid maternity leave is not readily available from most employers (more than half of U.S. companies employ fewer than 50 people), women usually use a combination of short-term disability, sick leave, vacation, and personal days in order to have some portion of their maternity leave paid. Almost one third of women who reported taking maternity leave do not have any portion of their maternity leave paid; and

WHEREAS:

            Today women bear children later in life, continue to work during the childbearing years and they make important financial contributions to the household; and

WHEREAS:

            Offering adequate parental leave not only helps to avoid pushing the family’s income into poverty levels, but also instills emotional stability between the new mom and baby. The lack of paid leave has numerous harmful consequences – fueling postpartum depression, causing mothers to give up breast-feeding early, forcing some families into debt or onto welfare. Reports from other nations show that parental leave entitlements are strongly correlated to emotionally stable children, 25 percent fewer post-neonatal deaths, and stronger families; and

WHEREAS:

            Parental leave increases better prenatal and postnatal care, creates more intense parental bonding over a child’s lifetime, and lower accident rates in the first year of life. Parental leave policies also increase the likelihood that children will be immunized and, as a result, are associated with lower death rates for infants. (2005 report published by the National Partnership for Women and Families); and

WHEREAS:

            An employer or company that offers paid maternity leave tends to attract better, dedicated employees. This results in higher productivity, increased career opportunities for women, higher incomes for women, decreased employee discrimination suits and a decrease in employee turnover; and

WHEREAS:

            California and New Jersey have had in place paid leave measures since 2004 and 2009 respectively with positive results reported by employers and employees alike. And, President Obama has included $23 million in the latest budget to encourage the expansion of such initiatives.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will promote and support policies toward establishing federally mandated parental leave; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME will lobby Congress and the White House Council on Women and Girls created by President Barack Obama and tasked to establish policies for a balance between work and family, to further initiatives for the creation of a federally mandated parental paid leave policy.

SUBMITTED BY:
Juan Fernandez, President and Delegate
Egbert Isaacs, Vice President and Delegate
Sheera S. Glass, Secretary and Delegate
Thomas Orawiec, Treasurer and Delegate
Diana Thillet, Executive Board Member and Delegate
Juliet White, Executive Board Member

                                    Alan Mendelson, Executive Board Member

                                    AFSCME Local 154, District Council 37

                                    New York

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