Fighting for Paid Family and Medical Leave
MAPE led the way to six weeks of paid parental leave (PPL) for all state employees, and now the union is fighting for a paid family and medical leave (PFML) program that would benefit all Minnesota workers. Throughout this legislative session, MAPE, in coalition with Minnesotans for Paid Family & Medical Leave, has supported legislation that would establish a state-run PFML program.
Last week two MAPE members attended a private roundtable discussion (pictured above) with Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and shared their own personal stories in support of PFML.
“In the pediatric community, there’s a saying that 'great starts lead to great outcomes.' We’re so very fortunate that was our experience, and I think paid parental leave had a lot to do with that,” said Miguel Lindgren, MNiT Services employee and member of MAPE Local 202. “Our hope now is that every worker in Minnesota has the opportunity to invest in great starts thanks to a program like PFML.”
In the photo to the right, Walz and Flanagan speak at Friday's press conference in favor of PFML.
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy shared at the roundtable that nearly 2,000 homes were canvassed, resulting in an overwhelming support for a program like this in Minnesota.
“We heard dozens of hard stories Minnesotans shared of not having access to paid time to care for loved ones,” McCarthy added.
MAPE’s Angela Byrne could have easily been one of those stories. She missed out on the state’s PPL benefit and was left with little time off after the birth of her son and her mother’s cancer diagnosis.
“Making people worry about their income while their loved ones are injured, ill or dying is inhumane. Our unpaid labor, blood, sweat and tears line the pockets of for-profit hospitals and insurance companies while families navigate financial jeopardy or worse. It’s too much to ask,” Local 601's Byrne shared in her testimony at the round table. “I fought for PPL for state workers after I had my son and I’m here fighting for PFLM for all Minnesotans now.”
The program would be structured much like the disability insurance program, where both employers and employees would contribute a nominal percentage of wages to a pool that would be accessible by workers needing paid time to care for a loved one. Walz and Flanagan have been supportive of the program since day one.
“When we first started this coalition work, I couldn’t imagine a meeting like this with the governor. I know how traumatic it is to tell and retell these stories. It takes courage. You all are the ones making the difference here,” Flanagan told supporters at the roundtable. “Paid family and medical leave is overwhelmingly popular with Minnesotans, and Minnesotans on both sides of the aisle. There’s no risk in doing the right thing.”
Walz called the program “a smart economic policy that makes us a more productive and better society.”
Nancy Lyons, CEO of Clockwork, couldn’t agree more.
“Treating people well matters in business. I tell my employees all the time how much I care. Actions speak louder than words,” Lyons said. “People who get what they need from employers are better employees and better for business.”
Though the PFML recently passed the Minnesota House, it has yet to receive any hearings in the Senate.