I was not understanding a word until I turned to my left and asked my guest to clarify something for me: Is it true that in the United States of America there is no paid leave for medical issues? (and I am the one coming from a country in development—I thought.)
The American Association of University Women in State College had a Central District meeting this past Saturday and I was really happy that I could attend. I read the flyer and I decided to invite my friend Teresa given that she enjoys, as much as I do, learning about social justice, social and legal updates in the community, and matters that reflect women's empowerment.
When it was time to hear why our speaker Karen Showalter from Moms Rising was promoting and supporting so fiercely the Family Care Act in Pennsylvania, I understood that companies have no obligation to provide paid leave to a woman who has given birth, or to support with a salary a person diagnosed with cancer, or a parent whose kid has an accident resulting in severe head trauma, among other reasons.
Then I heard many stories of other women present in the room describing their travails when they were treated for breast cancer, chronic illnesses, or had to take care of a parent with Alzheimer’s dementia. They could not miss work (either to take care of themselves or to care for their close relative) because they had no sick days days left or more than several vacation days that they could use to care for their close relative with an illnesses.
Then I learned 4 shocking facts:
· Only 17% of United States workers enjoy paid leave.
· Only 5% of those are low wage workers.
· Pennsylvania is the 5th State in the nation in terms of the percent of elderly citizens.
Then I wanted to know more about the Federal Family Act. I wondered if it’s needed by all workers, if all political parties would benefit from it, and why it has not passed? Moreover, I learned that Pat Toomey has not voted for it.
So, I decided to write a letter to Senator Toomey. Feel free to comment, copy, paste, share, etc. If you want to send him a letter, this is his address: 200 Chestnut St #600, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Dear Senator Toomey,
I am a registered voter and I live in Pennsylvania. I am not a worker with benefits nor do I am in a situation that I need Paid Medical Leave. However, I am a mother and a wife, and a friend, and a member of the Centre County Community. I would like to ask you to vote affirmatively for the Family Act and support as much as you can your fellow Pennsylvanians in this matter.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and I am looking forward to congratulating you soon for making the right move in this regard.
I want to invite you (the reader) to contact senator Pat Toomey if you think you or anyone in your family would benefit if this law would pass. This is not an issue of party, it is an issue of solidarity and thoughtfulness with the less privileged.
Big thanks to Moms Rising and to AAUW State College for working towards this matter and supporting each step of this invaluable project.