MomsRising Hails WA Legislators for Passing Paid Family Leave Bill
April 21, 2007
Governor Expected to Sign; New Online Activist Group Generated Thousands of Legislative Contacts, Held ‘Power of ONEsie’ Event in Support of Measure
MomsRising, the rapidly-growing grassroots online organization for moms (and anyone who has a mom), today hailed Washington legislators for sending Governor Chris Gregoire a strong paid family leave insurance bill. MomsRising was a driving force behind the measure, generating more than ten thousand emailed letters to legislators, as well as calls and deliveries of cookies, flowers and Polaroid photos of parents and children who would benefit from this long overdue policy. Last month, MomsRising held a “Power of ONEsie” display, exhibiting more than 300 specially-decorated baby outfits on the State Capital Campus.
“This is a huge victory for Washington’s mothers, fathers children and families,” said MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, who lives in Kirkland. “We thank State Senator Lisa Brown for her unwavering support of this bill, and her colleagues in the House and Senate for standing up to the corporate lobbyists who strongly opposed this family-friendly measure. Having a baby is a leading cause of a poverty spell in this country. This new law will help Washington families stay out of poverty, and give Washington’s children a healthy start. We look forward to Governor Gregoire signing it so families can take the leave they need when new babies arrive.”
The bill establishes five weeks of paid leave of up to $250 per week for qualifying workers who need to care for new children, beginning on October 1, 2009. Paid leave must be taken concurrently with the unpaid leave the federal Family & Medical Leave Act provides. The new law also establishes a joint task force on family leave insurance that will make recommendations about future permanent financing by January 1, 2008.
Washington will become the second state to adopt paid family leave. California passed a paid leave bill in 2002; it has been in effect since 2004. According to a recent report by Dr. Jody Heymann of Harvard and McGill Universities, the United States is one of just four countries (of 173 studied) that does not guarantee paid maternity leave – the others are Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.