Today, moms, dads, senior caregivers, small business owners, clergy and community members gathered at the State Capitol – the place where they anticipate a paid time to care policy will be signed in the coming months – to celebrate the creation and encourage the passing of the simple, fair and widely popular Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation.

Sadly, only 14% of Minnesota workers have paid family and medical leave through their employers and access is unequally distributed with differences by race and ethnicity, earnings levels, and work schedules. Minnesotans deserve to be able to work and care for themselves and their families. A paid family and medical leave insurance program is a fair, common-sense solution that would let them do both. This is a simple and popular, state-administered program where everyone contributes – both employees and employers – and everyone benefits – families, workers and businesses.

Miguel Lindgren is a state employee who benefitted from Parental Paid Leave when he adopted his daughter. “Most workplace advancements happen because a few committed individuals see the need for change and stand up to do something about it. And that’s why we’re here today,” said Miguel. “At a time when the pendulum is swinging toward anti-worker environments, it is more important than ever that we stand together to continue to make prudent workplace improvements like paid family leave for all Minnesotans in 2019.”

The policy was a popular issue in the November election, and public officials, including the Lt. Gov.-elect and the incoming Speaker of the Minnesota House have said this should be a priority in the coming legislative session.

Mary Jo Malecha, a Catholic faith leader with ISAIAH and New Brighton resident was a project manager in a small marketing research firm. She loved her job. While she was pregnant, due to medical complications she had to go on a week of mandatory bedrest and eventually needed an emergency cesarean. Her employer only offered six weeks of maternity time off, which was completely unpaid. Her doctor would not clear her to return to work until after eight weeks of giving birth. “I received a letter from [my employer’s] attorney stating that I would be terminated if I wasn’t back to work on a specific date, which was 6 weeks after being ordered on bed rest. I told them again that I could not and lost my job,” Mary Jo sadly reported.

Seeing the first smile of a newborn baby; holding hands at the hospital with a sick family member; comforting loved ones at the end of life; being able to heal and get well — these are all things every single family in Minnesota deserves without fear of losing income. Paid Family and Medical Leave for all Minnesotans is simple, fair and widely popular. It’s an urgent and easy choice for our families.

Mazel McCoy-Anderson, a faith leader with ISAIAH, had to quit her job to care for her dying mother because she didn’t have access to paid time to care for her family. Consequently, Mazel’s sister had to also quit her job because she got sick while helping with their parent’s care and didn’t have medical leave. “It is sad and a shame that my family and I had to go through so many hardships to be able to take care of my mother before she passed,” said Mazel. “Black Minnesotans, just like all Minnesotans, desire and deserve to be there and care for those we love without making the untenable decisions between our loved one and having a paycheck. Minnesotans deserve this legislation.”

Speakers at this press conference included new parents, a senior caregiver and a small business owner, all of whom are members of Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave. Minnesotans for Paid Family Leave is a coalition of about 25 organizations co-chaired by Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, ISAIAH, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.