The Senate’s failure to pass the Build Back Better Act in December was a frustrating moment in the fight for paid leave, but it doesn’t mean we’re giving up. While the federal government has recently shifted focus to the important work of protecting our voting rights, members of Congress have already begun to discuss a spending deal that includes paid leave for the millions of working people impacted by this latest wave of the pandemic.
This most recent surge of COVID-19 due to Omicron highlights even further that it is our lowest-paid workers who, despite being championed as “essential”, are most at risk of COVID-19 exposure. It is these working people who are more often forced to make the impossible choice between keeping themselves and their families safe, and losing money or a job by not going to work. The Better Life Lab at New America recently broke down the impact of paid sick leave — or the lack thereof — on working people of color and their families. AP News shared the stories of workers across the country who are trying to make ends meet while also taking care of the needs of their families. Over and over we’re seeing reports of corporations like CVS and Walgreens, Amazon, and Walmart that are cutting paid sick leave and other protections for their employees, even as the number of COVID-19 cases skyrockets.
Here’s what we know: a paid leave policy shouldn’t have an expiration date and shouldn’t be reduced or revoked in the blink of an eye. We cannot rely on individual states or corporations to fill in the gaps left by the lack of a federal paid leave policy. We will continue to uplift the stories of working people, highlight progressive policies on every level, and push for the broad, meaningful federal action that we know every working person deserves.
It’s not always easy, but that doesn’t mean we’re backing down. Connect with us and our partners here and on Facebook as we work towards the passage of #PaidLeaveForAll.