Stories of Hardship Underscore NTEU Support for Paid Parental Leave Bills


6/17/08: Offering vivid examples of hardships that could be significantly minimized or avoided entirely, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley today strongly supported approval of legislation providing both federal and congressional employees with four weeks of paid parental leave.

President Kelley urged House approval of H.R. 5781, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), which would convert to paid leave four of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave currently available to workers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee previously approved the measure.

Since testifying in the House in April in support of H.R. 5781, President Kelley said, “my voice mail and e-mail has been flooded with (NTEU) members wanting to know more” and telling “stories of hardship they endured because of the choices they made.”

For instance, “Some had terminally ill family members, and having used up all their sick leave and annual leave on that, had nothing left to use upon the birth of a child. Others were ill themselves, but kept working because they had used up all of their leave when they had a child.”

While the FMLA has been a terrific first step in helping Americans balance family needs and work needs, providing important job protection rights, Kelley wrote to all House members, “the sad truth is that many workers cannot forgo their income to use the right. That is why it is so important to pass H.R. 5781.”

At the same time, Kelley wrote to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), thanking him for introducing a companion measure in the Senate. That action, she wrote to the senator in offering NTEU’s “heartfelt thanks” sends “a strong signal to federal employees that you understand what is important to them.”

Kelley told Sen. Webb his “bold action means that the U.S., as an employer, will join every other industrialized nation in the world in providing this benefit to families.”

Besides helping address these critical family issues, paid parental leave carries the important additional benefit of providing federal agencies with another effective tool in their continuing efforts to recruit and retain the high-quality employees they need.

“In a time when there are dire predictions about being able to attract and retain enough employees to do the work of government, when it has become clear that the federal government is going to have to step up in order to draw the best and the brightest, paid parental leave can provide that kind of incentive,” Kelley wrote.