We're - tentatively - overjoyed. Read our press release below!
Statement from the DC Paid Family Leave coalition
on the DC Council’s vote to pass bill out of the Committee of the Whole.
Washington, DC – The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2015 passed out of the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, despite more than a year and a half of industry efforts to kill the bill that would provide vital benefits for all Washingtonians. Speaking on behalf of a coalition representing thousands of low-wage workers, communities of color and small business owners, Joanna Blotner said, “D.C. workers are one step closer to having a lifeline of medical leave when faced with unforeseen, challenging circumstances. The overwhelming majority (80%) of District residents who support the bill are hopeful that the Mayor will sign it into law after a second vote despite her uncertainty.”
Ward 7 resident Dyana Forester of UFCW Local 400 which represents grocery and retail workers of color, added that “Today’s vote demonstrates the power of families who united across the District around the shared need for vital benefits. Now it’s up to the Council and Mayor to take the final step to make it a reality.” The final vote on paid family leave is scheduled for December 20. Mayor Muriel Bowser has still not indicated if she will ultimately support the bill, despite backing over 80% of DC residents.
Working men and women of color would disproportionally benefit from the bill due to the higher wage rate replacement for low-wage earners. "Council members demonstrated that paid leave is both smart policy and good for DC’s economy," said Ed Lazere, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. “This bill will be good for DC workers and improve the city's quality of life without impacting our economy. It is something all public officials can be proud of.”
Inside the Council, the effort to rally votes was led by Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and David Grosso. Despite an eleventh hour attempt by industry lobbyists and their supporters on the Council and in the Mayor’s office to kill the bill, advocates and champions on the Council were not only able to beat back the effort but also restore medical leave to the program. The proposal, voted on at the Council today, now includes eight weeks of parental leave, six weeks of family leave and two weeks of medical leave.
Jaime Contreras of 32BJ SEIU applauded the Council for adding medical leave back into the bill. “Medical leave would greatly benefit thousands of janitors and security officers across the District who shared their personal stories with Council members. We are not done yet, low-wage workers are counting on the Council and Mayor to keep their commitment to low-wage workers and communities of color during the final vote so it can become law”.