Our press release on Multnomah County, Oregon enacting paid parental leave for it’s employees:
AFSCME Local 88 Statement on Paid Parental Leave Policy 2-57
Effective Nov. 1, 2015, Multnomah County will be implementing a paid parental leave policy of up to 6 weeks following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. AFSCME Local 88 applauds Chair Kafoury and the Board of Commissioners for championing this policy and extending this benefit to all eligible employees, female and male.
“The national landscape is shifting in the direction of recognizing the importance of increased flexibility and work-life balance for new mothers and fathers,” says Local 88 President Deirdre Mahoney-Clark. “It is of consequence that Chair Kafoury and the Board have taken a leadership role on this important issue in increasing our ability to recruit and retain talented and hard-working public employees for Multnomah County.”
Currently only three states — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — offer paid family leave. Our neighbors in Washington passed a program in 2007, but it has not been implemented due to lack of funding. According to the Council of Economic Advisers in a report to the White House in June 2014, only 11 percent of private sector workers have access to a formal paid leave policy.
Mahoney-Clark notes that same report found large disparities in access to paid leave across groups, with access to paid leave being particularly low among Hispanics, less educated workers and low wage workers. Taking into account this “benefits gap,” inequality in total compensation between more and less advantaged groups is even greater than inequality in income alone.
A recent survey of Multnomah County employees found that women were taking an average of 6 weeks unpaid following the birth of a new baby. Given that women are becoming increasingly the primary breadwinners for their families, a statewide family leave insurance program is long overdue. Multnomah County’s taking a leadership role in raising the bar on this issue should be seen as a challenge to other public and private entities in this state.
AFSCME — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — has advocated at all levels for paid parental leave, including advocating for a federally mandated parental leave program since 2012. AFSCME Local 88 represents over 3,000 Multnomah County employees.