“I’m not in a foul mood, I’m in a fighting mood!”
Reasons I love my job as a Policy Associate at CWEALF: I recently spent two full days out of the office immersed in the ins and outs of paid family and medical leave, a policy that’s occupied a lot of my brain space since I started at CWEALF as an intern in 2014. Together with national, regional and state advocates, we dug deep into strategies for passing and implementing a paid leave program that’s accessible, affordable and adequate for workers most vulnerable to a financial crisis when they need time away from work to care for themselves or a loved one.
On Wednesday, December 7th, I attended Family Values at Work’s Annual Meeting in NYC. Family Values at Work is a national network of 24 state and local coalitions helping to grow the movement for family-friendly workplace policies, including paid sick days and paid family leave insurance. Connecticut was the first to pass paid sick days legislation in 2011 and, if you’ve been following CWEALF’s work these past few years, you probably know that we’re working hard to become the next state to pass and implement a comprehensive system of paid family and medical leave.
I was excited to put faces to the names of national experts whose writing and research has helped mold the direction of the Campaign for Paid Family Leave here in Connecticut. This excitement made my morning commute to NYC – including catching a 6 am train from New Haven – much easier! The conference included in depth discussions on the implications of the 2016 election on the national and state movements for paid leave and break-out sessions covering the nuts and bolts of a successful paid family and medical leave campaign. I could easily ramble on about specific policy takeaways from the day (there were several), but what REALLY stood out to me about the event was the energy and enthusiasm in the room from start to finish.
Since the election, so many of us have felt overwhelmed with uncertainty for the future of the issues we care about and for the direction our country as a whole. No matter your political affiliation, I think it’s safe to say America is entering into a period of deep transition and ambiguity of what exactly is coming next. It was refreshing to be in a room of advocates committed to the fight ahead and listen to the positive progress made across the country in the past year or so. In 2015-2016, fourteen states and localities passed paid sick days and New York became the fourth state to pass paid leave! I left feeling re-energized and more ready than ever to get to work.
Contributing to this energy was Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who spoke during lunch about the “collective power of We” (complete with Hamilton reference) and the importance of continuing the movements for paid leave, paid sick days and raising the minimum wage to truly support working families in 2017 and beyond. I don’t think anything I write here will truly do his speech justice, here's the link to his full talk. Please watch! “I’m not in a foul mood, I’m in a fighting mood!” is my personal favorite moment.
On Friday, December 9, CWEALF’s Legal and Public Policy Director Catherine Bailey and I attended “You CAN Get There from Here: New England Paid Leave Forum” hosted by the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. Joined by two of our legislative champions, Senator Mae Flexer and Representative Matt Lesser, several Campaign partners and representatives from CT’s Department of Labor, we spent the day learning about successes and challenges from Rhode Island’s implementation of its Temporary Caregiving Insurance (TCI) program and some of the IT infrastructure involved with creating a new government program. A little wonky, yes, but again, knowing that our regional partners in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island are as committed as ever to passing paid leave and supporting their state’s working families left me feeling motivated and ready to get to work.
Pictured: Margaret, Steve Karp of NASW, Maddie Granato and Catherine Bailey of CWEALF, Joan Barrere of the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors, and Senator Mae Flexer. Not pictured: Representative Matt Lesser, Michele Vancour of CT Breastfeeding Coalition, and representatives from CT DOL.
This year’s legislative session begins on January 4, 2017. CWEALF continues to Chair the Campaign for Paid Family Leave, now a coalition of over 60 advocacy organizations and 14 supportive small businesses pushing for the passage of a statewide, comprehensive system of paid family and medical leave. Like the advocates I met last week, we’re as determined as ever to pass a policy that truly supports Connecticut families and helps workers stay afloat during times of financial stress. Want to get involved? Visit http://bit.ly/CampaignforPFL.
By Maddie Granato, Policy Associate at 19 Dec 2016, 19:54 PM
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