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Real family values: The FMLA turns 20

FMLAYou don’t hear as much from the far right in recent years about “family values” — mostly because hardly anyone can take such talk seriously when it comes from a group that champions survival-of- the-fittest capitalism, does is best to deny health care to people in need and just generally works to eradicate the social safety net.

On the odd chance, however, that someone does lay that line on you in the near future, you might want to remind them of the fact that today, February 5, 2013, is the twentieth anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act — the federal law that requires large employers to allow their workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with pregnancy and family medical emergencies.

Of course, in a truly humane society, such leave would be longer, paid, apply across-the-board and also be supplemented by a paid sick leave requirement as well,  but, at least, the FMLA is much better than nothing.

In honor of the anniversary, the folks at Think Progress have a couple of interesting posts: This one allows you to take a look at 19 conservative members of Congress who voted against the Act and who still serve (including North Carolina’s own Howard Coble) and this one graphs the dramatic uptick (from 24% to 85%!) that has occurred over the last two decades in the number of American workers in private industry who enjoy some unpaid family leave option.

Happy Anniversary FMLA! Let’s hope the next two decades bring many more such laws and practices to our state and nation.

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