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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. Read More

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Don’t miss today’s Progressive Voices column by the Justice Center’s Sabine Schoenbach. In it, she highlights the story of a Raleigh woman and cancer survivor who lost her teaching assistant job because she narrowly missed the stingy threshold for eligibility for the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

WRAL TV did a story about the woman – Donna Sotomayor – that you can watch below.

The State of Working North Carolina

A job saved is as good as a job created these days.  That’s what a brief released today reminds us as we think of ways to put our state and our workforce on a path to recovery.

Released as part of a series examining the State of Working North Carolina, the brief walks through the significant shifts our workforce has faced over the last thirty years, including the growth of women in the labor force as well as the booming numbers of workers who wield major caregiving duties for family members.  And how our workplace policies have utterly failed to keep up with these changes that working families know all too well.

The result?  Families teetering on the edge of keeping their jobs when common occurrences like a cold strikes them.  That’s because nearly half of North Carolina’s private-sector lack a single paid sick days to care for themselves or a sick family member.

Similarly, working families have very few supports to aid them in dealing with another set of common life experiences—birth and long-term illness.  The only law on the books, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, that is supposed to allow families to take leave time to care for a newborn child or a parent with Alzheimer’s is inaccessible to the majority of North Carolinians (and Americans) because the leave time is unpaid and it only applies to workers in larger businesses.

As we know, in today’s economy, losing a job can be catastrophic and caregiving responsibilities are increasing become a reason workers are seeing their paychecks shrink or even losing their economic livelihood.

There is no reason families should have to choose between caring for their families or a job.  We’re in the 21st Century afterall.  And it’s time policymakers start recognizing that and looking at common-sense measures like paid sick days to ensure that our workers can hold on to the jobs they’ve got.  There’s no better time than now.