Councilmember M. Lorena González (Pos. 9, Citywide), Chair of the Seattle City Council’s Gender Equity Committee, issued the following statement in response to the Washington State Legislature’s passage of a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave bill:
“The passage of a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave policy will create a best-in-nation program that will greatly benefit Washington State’s working families” said González. “Following the implementation of this program, workers will no longer have to choose between providing for their families or taking time away from work to bond with a new child or to care for a loved one or themselves. Historically, low-income workers and women of color in particular have suffered from a lack of access to paid family and medical leave benefits. With these facts in mind, I embarked on a process more than two years ago to develop and advance a Paid Family and Medical Leave policy for the working families of Seattle. A study commissioned by the City Council showed both the lack of access to paid family and medical leave and businesses’ desire to provide this benefit. I am proud that this study and my outreach to over 100 business owners in Seattle contributed to a successful negotiation of a statewide program.
“Last night’s passage of a statewide policy is proof positive that Seattle’s local priorities can – and should – have regional significance. In previous legislative sessions, efforts to implement a paid family and medical leave policy in the State Legislature stalled out. I thank and congratulate all the stakeholders, including business leaders and working family advocates, who came to the negotiating table in an earnest effort to find common ground and craft a policy that will benefit both Washington’s workers and businesses.
“While the United States may still be the only industrialized nation in the world without a federal paid parental leave policy, Washington State has found a way to do what’s right for the health of the families, children, and the economy.”