There was great news in Greensboro last night as North Carolina’s third largest city moved into the 21st Century (the 20th in other advanced parts of the world) in an important area of public policy: leave for new parents. The good people at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, report:
Greensboro City Council Passes Paid Parental Leave Policy To Help Greensboro’s Working Families
Working people, advocates push City Council to offer city workers up to six weeks’ paid parental leave
On the heels of securing a landmark minimum wage hike for city workers that went into effect last fall, a coalition of working people and community advocates—including Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO—came together at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to successfully advance a measure establishing a new paid parental leave policy for city workers.
The Paid Parental Leave ordinance, passed by a vote of 9 to 0, offers up to six weeks of paid parental leave to men, women and same-sex couples employed by the City of Greensboro for at least one year who welcome a new member into their families through birth, fostering or adoption. Currently, working families employed by the city may access benefits from the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which only provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for eligible recipients.
“This ordinance is the right thing to do to help narrow the gender pay gap for Greensboro’s dedicated employees and improve the vitality and economy of our city overall,” said Councilman Jamal Fox, who introduced the ordinance. “Our city workers are professionals committed to Greensboro’s success—they shouldn’t have to choose between bonding with their child and paying their bills.”
Leading up to the vote, Working America members met with City Council members and wrote letters to the editor in support of adopting the ordinance. Additionally, working families and allies—including Working America members—packed the room to offer testimony in favor of the policy during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Greensboro continues to lead the way in creating smart, family-friendly policies that address troubling disparities and acknowledge today’s diverse family structures,” said Working America North Carolina State Director Carolyn Smith. “By raising wages and granting access to paid time off to city workers to care for new additions to their families, Greensboro continues to serve as a model to municipalities throughout the south for improving standards for working families.”
While paid parental leave policies are growing in popularity, most working Americans still lack access to paid family leave. According to a recent Associated Press analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12 percent of working people in the United States have access to paid leave through their jobs. A recent report from the North Carolina Justice Center asserts that in North Carolina alone, a staggering 1.2 million working people in the private sector do not have access to any earned paid leave.
Obviously, last night’s action is just a small step given that the vast majority of North Carolina workers still enjoy no such benefit. That said, it’s an important one and should add momentum to the effort to make such policies universal in modern America.