On July 30, 2016, more than 200 people representing a powerful coalition of state and city unions, social justice organizations, faith groups, and working people came together to kick off our bold new movement for paid family and parental leave for all in Seattle.
Sponsors of the event included the Washington State Labor Council, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council, Seattle Women’s Commission, Seattle/King County N.A.A.C.P., the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Faith Action Network, Gender Justice League, LGBTQ Allyship, Working Washington, Washington CAN!, Puget Sound Sage, Socialist Alternative, Tenants Union of Washington, IBEW 46, IBEW 77, Laborers 1239, PTE 17, PSARA, SEIU 6, SEIU 775, SEIU 975, SEIU 1199NW, Seattle Education Association, UNITE HERE 8, UAW 4121, WFSE, WFSE 1488, Kadima Jewish Community, the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Keystone United Church of Christ, and former Mayor Mike McGinn.
Despite being the most powerful economy in the world, the US is one of only four countries that does not provide some form of paid parental and family leave. This should be astonishing, given the clear benefits and absence of any negative side effects. Unfortunately, it is just another indicator of the fact that we can only secure and protect laws that support the working class if we fight for them.
Paid leave provides indispensable support and stability to working class families during some of the most important and trying periods, and are even more crucial to communities of color and the LGBTQ community, which are far more likely to be underemployed and/or working in low paying jobs. Further, according to the Seattle Women’s Commission, paid leave is the single most effective policy the City of Seattle can implement to advance towards gender equity. It also influences the amount of time that men spend on childcare and household responsibilities.
It’s not surprising that studies have shown that the implementation of paid parental and family leave increases the long-term mental and physical health of both children and parents. And it has no negative net impact on business profitability!
Currently, our sisters and brothers in the city unions are fighting for the strongest possible paid family and parental leave. We must stand with them in their struggle. And in the near future, our coalition will be coming together to select our policy options, draft legislation, and most importantly, build a movement to win paid family and parental leave for all workers in Seattle.
If you would like to join our coalition or learn more about the struggle, please email me or call us at 206-684-8016.
I will be sharing more on this fight in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I encourage you to watch the full Town Hall below.