All Contribute, All Benefit in Minn.’s Paid Time to Care Policy
Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave, Bill Authors and Speaker Hortman Push Urgency, Unveil Policy of Paid Time to Care
On Tues. Jan. 22, 2019, families and organizations with Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave (MPFML), the lead bill authors, Rep. Laurie Halverson in the House and Sen. Susan Kent in the Senate as well as Speaker of the House, Melissa Hortman gathered to express urgency and excitement while unveiling the Paid Family and Medical Leave policy that’s already been introduced in the House and soon to be in the Senate.
“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,” said Bharti Wahi, the executive director of Children’s Defense Fund–Minnesota. “Yet, sadly, only 13% of Minnesota workers currently have paid family and medical leave through their employers and there are disparities in access with differences by race and ethnicity, earnings levels, and work schedules.”
This paid time to care policy would allow all workers up to 12 paid weeks off to take care of family members and up to 12 paid weeks for long term medical care, including giving birth. The wage compensation would be partial and on a sliding scale so that those who make less, still have enough to thrive.
The several groups gathered today to advocate for the simple, fair and widely popular state-administered program where everyone contributes – both employees and employers – and everyone benefits – families, workers and businesses. Paid Family and Medical Leave for all Minnesotans is exactly that program. This would not only alleviate the disparities across race and class, but also among small businesses that are disproportionately impacted by not having a statewide paid time to care program.
Sarah Piepenberg, owner of Vinaigrette – boutique stores that sell different oils and vinegars in Excelsior and Minneapolis -told the heart wrenching story of an aging employee who broke both her arms and needed extended time off to heal. “She had no idea how she was going to pay her rent or for her food,” Sarah recalls. “We believe in giving paid leave to our employees because it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, because we don’t have paid time to care implemented in Minnesota, I had to miss a payment on my home so that I could still pay my employee and cover her missed work. With this policy in place, all this financial stress could have been avoided and all of us would have benefited.”
This year legislative leadership both in the House and Senate as well as the Governor’s administration agree that directly addressing the crisis that families are feeling, providing relief and giving opportunities for families and businesses to care for one another is a priority. Paid Family and Medical Leave is an urgent and easy choice for our families and the state.
“There is no reason that this shouldn’t be a tremendous bipartisan win for the state,” said Senate bill author, Sen. Kent. “It’s good for families and would be such a benefit, regardless of where you are on the political aisle.” Kent says that her republican colleagues have great interest in this bill and are garnering more every time their questions are answered on the specifics.
“All Minnesotans deserve to be successful,” House Speaker Hortman exclaimed. “We’ve heard from so many families who are choosing between caring for a loved one and earning a paycheck. Other states have done this. In Minnesota, we need to show leadership to move forward. From a budget standpoint, there’s a great case for it, there’s a business case for it and there’s a moral case for it.”
Leaders from MPFML agree that the time is now, the benefits for all is undeniable and the political will to get it done is felt in every sector.
“The unpaid care provided by Minnesota’s family caregivers saves our state $7.8 billion each year,” said Kate Schaefers, AARP Minnesota Volunteer State President. “Family caregivers are the backbone of our long-term care system – but it often comes at a cost to the family caregiver. As the population ages, more working caregivers will need to take time away from work to care for their loved ones. Paid family and medical leave policies provides them with much needed economic security, allowing them to stay in the workforce. This benefits our employers who desperately need workers, and it makes fiscal sense for Minnesota.”
“We have made paid family and medical leave one of our top priorities this legislative session,” said Bill McCarthy, Minnesota AFL-CIO President. “We are urging union members to contact their legislators in support of this bill – and we will continue to do so until it reaches Governor Walz’s desk.”
“This is a common-sense solution to the crisis that many of our families are experiencing,” Doran Schrantz, Executive Director of ISAIAH. “ISAIAH and our partners in MPFML have been working on this issue for five years. The time is now.”
Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave is a coalition of nearly 30 organizations co-chaired by Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, ISAIAH, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.
MPFML Members: AARP, AFSCME Council 5, AFSCME Council 65, Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota, Coalition for Women’s Economic Security, Communications Workers of America State Council, Elders for Infants, Family Tree Clinic, Gender Justice, ISAIAH, Jewish Community Action, JustUsHealth, Land Stewardship Project, Main Street Alliance of Minnesota, Minnesota AFL-CIO, MAPE, Minnesota Nurses Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Minnesota, Northstar Policy Institute, Open Access Connections, Out Front Minnesota, Planned Parenthood, SEIU – Minnesota, Simpson Housing Services, Take Action – Minnesota, UFCW Local 1189, Vital Aging Network, and Working America.