I’m proud that I was part of the advocacy campaign that brought paid family and medical leave to DC. Since July 1, 2020, people who work in DC can take eight weeks of paid leave when they have a child, six weeks of paid leave to care for an ill relative, and two weeks of paid leave for their own illness. This means workers can take time off to care for their families or themselves without having to worry about paying their bills.
The program is designed to make sure DC’s workers can care for their children, parents, and for themselves. So far, many have. Parents have spent time bonding with new infants, children have lovingly cared for terminally ill parents, and people who caught COVID got paid leave to recuperate. This program is succeeding, and I’d like to go to the Council to strengthen it as many of my opponents and their allies seek to weaken it.
It’s sad that Vincent Orange’s main campaign platform is to take away this popular and important benefit, like Republicans at the national level who are trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he was part of a failed corporate-led effort in 2017 to repeal and replace paid family and medical leave. Apparently, he is a sore loser.
Here is the truth about paid family and medical leave in DC:
- The program covers most (75%) of working DC residents. It doesn’t cover DC residents who work outside DC — despite my effort to have them covered. Mr. Orange and his corporate friends killed that provision. They are the ones who sold out nearly 100,000 DC residents.
- The program serves low-wage workers the best. The program replaces 90% of wages for the lowest-wage workers It replaces more of the wages of average workers living in Ward 8 than in Ward 3.
- The program makes DC a more humane and attractive place to work.
Mr. Orange’s claims confirm that he doesn’t understand how labor laws work, which is amazing considering that he chaired the labor committee on the Council before he lost the 2016 primary. All labor laws in a city or state must apply to everyone who works there. For example, the minimum wage covers everyone who works here, regardless of where they live. So does paid family and medical leave. Just as employers pay wages, benefits, and unemployment insurance taxes for all their workers, regardless of where they live, they pay paid family leave taxes for all of their workers.
That’s why the program covers some Maryland and Virginia residents — because they happen to work in DC. If the program excluded those workers (which labor law does not allow), it might create an incentive for DC businesses to hire non-DC residents. Who would want that?
Ironically, the alternative proposed by Mr. Orange — requiring employers to provide the benefit directly to workers rather than paying into a fund managed by DC — would ALSO require DC businesses to cover Maryland and Virginia residents who work in DC. So much for a better alternative.