Six years ago, as a community organizer at 9to5 Colorado, I was in a room at the old Women’s College with our Board of Directors, leaders, and members talking about paid family medical leave. We were strategizing about legislation that would save Coloradans from having to choose between their job and their health, or the health of their families. This is when we crafted the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act or FAMLI.
Over the time I was the lead organizer on the bill, I heard from women and families about their struggles to keep their jobs while battling cancer, serious injuries, or having a baby. I heard about their battles with the health care system, insurance companies, and landlords because of the lack of pay while bills piled up, kids needed food on the table, a roof over their heads, and lifesaving medicine. Paid leave is and always has been a clear health and health equity issue for women of color who are over-represented in lower wage jobs that don’t offer paid family medical leave, and who are also the ones at higher risk for preventable health disparities.
The FAMLI Act would set up a state insurance program that pools funds so employees can take the time they need to care for a sick child or parent, recover from a personal illness or injury, or have a baby, while they receive a portion of their wages to make ends meet. The program is funded through shared 60/40 employee and employer contributions, which makes this program solvent and fair. Just three-and-a-half unpaid days off can cost a family an entire month of groceries; this bill helps ensure that Coloradans can be free of the real fear of not being able to make ends meet if they need to take time off to heal from a serious illness or care for a sick loved one.
If you are lucky to live long enough, you will need paid leave at some point in your life. For years now, women like Kris, Shelby, and Alana have been fighting for paid leave, because no one should have to worry about how they’re going to make ends meet with no paycheck when they need it the most. Research and testimony confirm that FAMLI is a benefit for both workers and businesses. That is why 68% of voters and 71% of business owners favor the creation of a Colorado-specific paid family and medical leave insurance program.
Now the FAMLI Act has made its way to the legislature and it’s time for it to pass. Too many people are being forced to risk their health, financial stability, and future economic security when they put their families first. No matter our age, gender, race, immigration status, sexual orientation, or career opportunities, we all deserve paid leave.
We need our legislators, especially our Senators, to vote YES on the FAMLI Act. Please take two minutes to send this action alert to your legislators! This bill needs community support in order to pass. Together, we can ensure all Coloradans can care for themselves and their loved ones, and that Colorado businesses and the economy can grow. When our families are healthy, our communities prosper, and Colorado is stronger.