Monday, June 04, 2007

Family Leave Roundtable in Schenectady

Last Thursday, Legislator Gary Hughes; Legislator Ed Kosiur, Vice Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature; Schenectady County Legislator Vince DiCerbo and Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton listened to Mia Puertas, working mother to Jada Puertas, and Doug Williams, working father to Maya and husband to Marie, talk about why they support the Working Families Time to Care Act.

Family Leave Roundtable in SchenectadyFamily Leave Roundtable in Schenectady

When Mia was pregnant with Jada, her employer didn't offer any form of family leave. Mia had to choose between taking time off to care for Jada or going back to work right away. Mia took unpaid leave, and ended up leaving her job because of the inadequate benefits. Here's why Mia Puertas supports the Working Families Time to Care Act:
"This is crucial bonding time for the parent to have with the child, which no mother should be denied. . . However, my job did not provide me with any paid leave, and I had to take unpaid leave. . . I am willing to take a stand for the mothers that are facing this obstacle, so they don't have to go through the struggle that I was faced with at the time. . . After Jada's birth, I was feeling the same emotions that every new mother feels: exhaustion, overwhelmed, stressed. Adding financial worry was the last thing I needed at the time.

I have first hand experience in needing this benefit, and, when it was not available, I had to make choices that new mothers should not have to make in an already stressful time. This legislation should be passed because it will help working families, like mine, take care of each other in the times they need it most."
When Doug's daughter Maya was born, he was offered 4 weeks of paid leave. Doug used that time to bond with his wife and new daughter. Here's how Doug describes his experience:
"I was grateful to be able to spend four weeks of paid time with my wife and new daughter. I didn't get a vacation that year, but it was worth it to be able to spend time with them. But, somehow, four weeks just doesn't seem like enough time. With the Working Families Time to Care Act, I would have been able to spend up to 12 weeks with her!"
Then, Doug's wife, Marie, suffered a heart attack last year. Doug once again struggled to balance family and work:
"I was able to take the time off, but it meant exhausting all my vacation time and sick leave. Because this didn't add up to enough time, I did have to take a few unpaid days off. I needed to take care of my wife, even if it meant giving up my vacation time that year."

Family Leave Roundtable in SchenectadyFamily Leave Roundtable in Schenectady

You couldn't help but be moved listening to Mia and Doug, and Legislator Gary Hughes gave us the good news that:
"The Schenectady County Legislature supports the Working Families Time to Care Act and we will be introducing a resolution in support of the bill at our next meeting [on June 12th]. It is time for us to make it easier for working families to take care of each other"
But we still need action in Albany. That's where you can make a difference.

Tell your state legislators it's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.

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