Workers, small business owners, and advocates come together with House Speaker Krowinski, Senate President Becca Balint, Lt. Governor Molly Gray, and Congressman Welch to show support for the passage of a national Paid Family and Medical Leave Solution
Vermont Business Magazine Yesterday, workers, small business owners, advocates and legislative leaders came together for the premiere of “We Believe in Paid Leave”, a video campaign lifting up eight stories from throughout Vermont, highlighting the critical and urgent need for the passage of an equitable and robust national paid family and medical leave solution. They were joined by and heard remarks from House Speaker Jill Krowinski, Senate President Becca Balint, Lt. Governor Molly Gray, and Congressman Peter Welch.
We know that 65% of Vermont’s workers don’t have access to paid family and medical leave and that the consequences are dire in the event of a personal or family medical emergency. We also know that no one chooses when they get sick or injured and that for most families, nine months is not enough time to save for an adequate parental leave. An equitable, inclusive, and comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave solution would ensure that all workers have the financial security to put their health and safety first.
Sole-proprietor, Main Street Alliance member, and subject of the “We Believe in Paid Leave” video, Akshata Nayak of Jericho Vermont opened the call and had this to say: “Our country talks so much about communities and families, but now, it is time to actually support them. Small businesses are often, rightly so, called the lifeline of our communities. And in the pandemic, our front line service-workers literally put their health and safety at risk every day to provide for us. This policy will be game changing for them, and for the growing number of sole-proprietors like me, who want to work and provide for their community, and often have no choice but to push ourselves through extremely difficult personal situations with no financial support. We need a national solution that will provide for all workers, all small businesses, provide enough compensation and time for it to be impactful, and provide for all kinds of leave including personal, family and parental leave.”
Following the video premiere, the call was opened up to legislative leaders where they heard from Congressman Peter Welch, Lt. Governor Molly Gray, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, and Senate President Becca Balint. All leaders showed resounding support and a deep commitment to standing with our federal delegation as they work to get this transformative policy across the finish line.
Key quotes from yesterday’s speakers:
Congressman Peter Welch: “There is an economic argument to be made about why (Paid Leave) is good for the economy… but for me this isn’t just about the economy, this is about what kind of society that we want to live in and what kind of social insurance programs we want to have that apply to everybody. Because all of us, at some time, are going to need to take time off, and it may be for a son or daughter, it may be for a mom or dad, but we are going to need it.... It's about an understanding that in a society, we make common commitments to one another, but as part of that commitment, we have to set up systems and structures that allow that promise to be kept… This is the work that we should be doing, creating stability and security for families.”
Lt. Governor Molly Gray: “I will never forget when my mother got sick and was hospitalized...I used up all my accrued vacation and sick leave (which wasn’t much) to be at the hospital helping my family navigate the medical emergency. As I ran out of paid leave, I began to wonder, what would happen if I had to take unpaid leave…how long would it be before I couldn’t make my rent, or my student loans or worse, would I have to leave my job altogether. My story is not unique. Long before the pandemic, Vermont women and caregivers were finding themselves in the position of having to make tough decisions between caring for loved ones and paying the bills. As we know, the pandemic exacerbated everything. A stronger recovery means long overdue investments in a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy that ensures no Vermonter has to choose between caring for loved ones and paying the bills.”
House Speaker Jill Krowinski : “Small businesses are the backbone of our Vermont economy, and so many of these businesses have long called for the need to support workers and businesses by having a leave program. A federal paid family leave program where all businesses, regardless of size, have access to family and medical leave, would be a game changer to our state. Vermonters should not have to choose between taking care of a loved one or risk losing their job.”
Senate President Becca Balint: “We don’t have a system that allows people to be absolutely human in their relationships with your family members when you have a health crisis. This isn’t good for families. It isn’t good for communities. It isn’t good for the emotional health and safety of individuals and families when we do not take care of people during times of crisis. I want to make a clear show of support (to our federal delegation) around paid family and medical leave, because this is an equity issue. It’s about fairness. It’s about helping women. It’s about helping people of color. It’s about helping single parents across the state, and I really hope that in the next year or so we are going to see paid family and medical leave get across the finish line, and I can’t wait for that day.”
To see a recording of yesterday’s call CLICK HERE.
About the Vermont FaMLI Coalition
The Vermont FaMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance) Coalition is made up of over 25 statewide organizations fighting for an equitable and robust paid family and medical leave solution and is launching “We Believe in Paid Leave”, a campaign that seeks to raise public consciousness on this important policy and provide opportunities to engage with and support our federal delegation as they work to pass this transformative legislation. To learn more about this campaign and get involved go to www.vtpaidleave.org