‘A Great Day for All Washingtonians’: As Gov. Inslee Signs Groundbreaking Law, States Get Powerful Blueprint for Building a Strong Paid Family and Medical Leave Program from Scratch
July 5, 2017
Statement from Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director of MomsRising.org, a national online and on-the-ground organization of more than 40,000 members in Washington State and more than 1 million members across the country, on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signing the state’s paid family and medical leave bill into law
“In a monumental victory for Washington State, its families, small, medium and large businesses and its economy, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today signed SB 5975 into law, bringing us closer to the day when paid family and medical leave is a reality for every worker in the state. After more than a decade of advocacy from MomsRising members and our partners -- and unprecedented collaboration between worker advocates, business leaders and legislators -- Washington has enacted a powerful paid family/medical leave plan that will serve as a blueprint for states across the nation.
“MomsRising members fought for more than ten years to advance paid family and medical leave in Washington and are celebrating this win. In 2016 alone, we led a statewide, bipartisan Listening Tour that included members of the U.S. Congress, the Washington State legislature, local council members, numerous business leaders and representatives of more than 60 community agencies and organizations. Since January, our members all across the state have sent more than 35,000 emails to Washington State legislators, made hundreds of calls to their state legislators as well, attended town halls and other local meetings, placed letters-to-the-editor in local newspapers, and more. MomsRising is proud to have brought the voices and stories of Washington’s families to the table. We are thankful that our members’ unshakeable determination and tireless activism played a role in advancing this win-win policy that lifts families, businesses, and the economy alike.
“SB 5975 was passed by the Washington state legislature late last week and will take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, at which point Washington will become the first state that did not have a temporary disability insurance system in place to build a paid family and medical leave program from scratch. The groundbreaking new law, which was passed with strong bipartisan support, will allow workers in Washington to take 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave, with a maximum cap of 16 weeks of paid leave per year and up to two weeks of extra time for women who experience pregnancy complications. All state workers -- including those who are self-employed -- will be eligible for the program, and the law’s progressive wage replacement benefit will allow low-wage workers to retain 100 percent of their typical take-home wages during their leave.
“As we celebrate this victory in Washington, it also serves as yet another reminder that our country lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to having a paid family and medical leave policy at the national level. We need a national paid leave law like the FAMILY Act, which would allow a guaranteed amount of paid family and medical leave for all workers in our nation.
“We thank our partners in the Washington Work and Family Coalition and the Early Learning Action Alliance for leading the charge for paid family and medical leave and working with MomsRising members, and we commend every legislator who voted for this much-needed bill and Gov. Inslee for signing it. This is a great day for all Washingtonians.”