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March 07, 2005

Take Back Your Time-- Progressive Pro-Family Slogan

Want a real pro-family policy? How about one that allows parents to actually BE with their families when they are sick, or just when they need to meet with a teacher to discuss their kid's progress?

Too many parents can't do that, because they aren't guaranteed sick days or personal time to attend to family needs. Which brings us to Take Back Your Time, a new coalition fighting for paid time off, whether the more modest goal of guaranteeing a few days off per year or the broader goal of funding more serious time off after the birth of a child or long-term illness in a family.

Targeting 21 states initially, the campaign is already having success, with committees in the Washington State House and Senate approving a bill calling for five weeks' paid family leave for workers, to be financed by having workers pay a tax of 2 cents per hour worked, about $40 a year. California already has a program where families get 55% of their normal pay for six weeks for such family leave.

Several dozen members of Congress will soon introduce a bill in Congress which would guarantee families at least seven days time off to address family needs-- something desperately needed since half the workforce don't have guaranteed sick days. This will be a direct challenge to the "family" rhetoric of rightwing politicians who don't think that extends to demanding companies respect family needs. But it's dangerous ground for conservatives to resist:

The average middle-class married woman works 500 hours, or 12.5 weeks, more per year than in 1979.

"The No. 1 concern that women have today — even more than security — is a lack of time," said Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster

The Take Back Your Time campaign has linked up with a religion campaign, the Lord's Day Alliance, which is promoting time off work for family and religious reflection, an alliance that will create tension between rightwing GOP leaders and their religious base:
"Many hard-working, rank-and-file evangelicals would support legislation guaranteeing paid sick days or paid vacations," Wilcox said. "But evangelical leaders will not go along with these ideas because their close allies in the business community are so firmly against it."
At some point, those religious political leaders should be forced to choose between sucking up to corporate CEOs and helping their congregants take time off for their kids.

Posted by Nathan at March 7, 2005 07:12 AM