Los Angeles Councilmember Martinez Introduces Citywide Resolution in Support of the FAMILY Act and California’s Paid Family Leave

Proposed Legislation Will Support National and Statewide Efforts to Encourage Breastfeeding and Care for Ill Family Members

Los Angeles, CA – The California Work & Family Coalition applauds Los Angeles Councilmember Nury Martinez, who introduced a citywide resolution today supporting California’s Paid Family Leave Act and the recently introduced federal FAMILY Act. The proposed citywide legislation will promote awareness among Los Angeles residents about their paid family leave rights in California, while encouraging breastfeeding of infants.

California was the first state in the country to pass Paid Family Leave in 2002. The legislation, which allows eligible workers to receive a portion of their pay when they need time away from work to bond with a new child, or care for a seriously ill family member, has been found to double the median duration of breastfeeding among those who used it, including women in low-wage jobs.

The California Work & Family Coalition was instrumental in passing both Paid Family Leave in 2002 and its recently approved expansion (SB 770). Coalition members currently advise California workers and families who want to take paid family leave, and contribute their expertise to a website, www.paidfamilyleave.org, which provides accessible, up-to-date information about paid family leave in California, as well as stories from people who have needed its benefits.

“California has been a national leader on this issue for more than a decade, but we still have a long way to go if we want to make sure that all working families can fulfill their work and family responsibilities without having to give up one over the other,” said Ann O’Leary, Vice President and Director of the Children & Families program at Next Generation. “Today, Los Angeles is showing leadership again by helping all families in the county learn how they can keep their children and family members healthy without risking financial security.”

“Breastfeeding gives babies the nutrition their bodies and brains need to properly develop, and also helps their emotional development,” said Karen Peters, Executive Director for BreastfeedLA, a Coalition partner and community advocacy group. “It helps mothers form a strong bond with their children. There are so many physical, psychological and community-related benefits to breastfeeding that we should make it easier for all women to do, regardless of their employment or income status.”

Coalition partners have been working with Councilmember Martinez to draft the LA legislation and promote awareness of paid family leave among eligible workers.

“Angelenos who are paying into this program need to know that there is a safety net available to them when they welcome a new child into their home, if they get sick or have to care for a family member with a serious medical condition,” said Councilmember Martinez. “People shouldn’t have to choose between spending time with their newborn babies, caring for a family member or going to work to put food on the table. Having an income source during these critical times can provide peace of mind.”

In 2011, former US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin issued a Call To Action To Support Breastfeeding, which specifically calls on policy makers to establish paid leave for new mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding rates in Los Angeles are far below California’s state average, even though approximately 33 percent of babies born in the state are born in LA County.

The County of Los Angeles also has the lowest awareness of the state’s Paid Family Leave, impacting many families who qualify because they pay into the program through payroll deductions, but do not use the benefit. Awareness is the lowest among key disadvantaged groups, such as those with lower household incomes, renters and those with limited education. Further, approximately 37% of eligible workers fear their employers would retaliate against them for attempting to take Paid Family Leave.

The federal FAMILY Act introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in December 2013 would establish a national paid family leave program modeled on California’s paid family leave program. The current federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides only unpaid, job-protected leave to workers who use the program, but the proposed FAMILY Act will offer paid benefits for up to 12 weeks, as well as job security.

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About California Work & Family Coalition

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is an alliance of community organizations, unions and non-profits protecting every California worker’s right to put their family first. We work together to promote work family policies that help parents, caregivers, children and families thrive.

Learn more at www.workfamilyca.org and on Twitter @WorkFamilyCA.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at www.thenextgeneration.org, www.facebook.com/thenextgeneration.org and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.

About BreastfeedLA

Breastfeed LA is dedicated to improving the health and well being of infants and families through education, outreach, and advocacy to promote and support breastfeeding.

Learn more at www.BreastfeedLA.org,

www.facebook.com/BreastfeedLA and on Twitter @BreastfeedLA