Universal, equitable paid family and medical leave program a Democrat priority at summit

Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray attended and led a legislative summit at the Vermont Statehouse to discuss a “universal” and “equitable” paid family leave program for the state.

The theme of equity — a progressive buzzword that many conservatives feel echoes socialism —  continues to dominate the conversations surrounding paid leave programs.

At the Dec. 8 summit, Vermont Commission on Women Executive Director Cary Brown was among those to keep stressing the term.

“You will probably get tired of hearing the word ‘equity’ over and over again, but it’s absolutely key that every consideration we make we have to be thinking about equity. And so gender equity is a huge part of that,” Brown said.

Brown discussed the gaps in pay between women and men (and races as well), suggesting that any differences in their earning outcomes must be attributed to social injustice.

“A huge part of why that happens is women spend a disproportionate amount of time in unpaid labor taking care of family members and the home,” she said. “And this is something that’s always been true, Our entire economy rests on unpaid and underpaid labor being done by women, by people of color. We’ve built this country through the labor of enslaved people.”

Gray tweeted about the summit about a week after Gov. Phil Scott announced a voluntary paid family and medical leave program for Vermont.

Kiah Morris shares about family health emergencies

Kiah Morris, the executive director of Rights and Democracy, also spoke at the summit.

“It is absolutely an economic issue, it is a social justice issue, and it is a healthcare issue,” she said.

Morris explained that, in her own household, times have been tough — especially when her spouse experienced a handful of severe health conditions.

“I have worked on my laptop, taking calls from the ER, in order to try to make it through the obligations that I have within my own workplace,” she said. “I have had to miss out on opportunities to be with my child and support him through all of these really challenging things that are happening within the family structure.”

Morris described a phone call she had within her organization on strategizing to garner more social support for caregivers while juggling roles as a caregiver herself.

“That phone call took place during school pickups, so I had to handle this call talking about how we need to be able to support folks who are in these caregiving roles as I am also trying to do this mom thing,” she said.

Costs to run programs are challenging

Jordan Giaconia, public policy manager of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, said about half of the businesses that are members of his organization offer paid leave programs. The other half do not.

“They simply cannot afford to offer this benefit,” he said of those businesses.

Giaconia offered some of the reasons that his member businesses say they have challenges in hiring and retaining workers.

“First and foremost is inadequate social infrastructure,” he said. “So that’s housing, that’s paid family leave, that’s childcare, that’s health care, that’s transportation, and helping Vermonters meet their basic needs and maintain their economic dignity.”

Giaconia said that compensation is also too low, and others face barriers to employment. He cited an example of former military members re-acclimating to society, and challenges facing someone in recovery from hard drugs.

As Gray hosted the event, she kept social justice at the forefront of conversations about paid leave.

“When we think about maternal mortality we know the rates are higher for BIPOC women, or as it relates to individuals who are often stepping up into caregiving,” she said. “This is a justice issue at the end of the day.”

The whole two-part event can be seen online here and here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Molly Gray

7 thoughts on “Universal, equitable paid family and medical leave program a Democrat priority at summit

  1. Decades ago, the running joke around New England was Vermont is a welfare State. Hordes of low-income people made their way from CT, MA, RI, etc. to get all the freebies. Decades later, the booming business of government sponsored welfare proves lucrative for those in government, non-government organizations, non-profits, and corporate healthcare. If you work a normal job in Vermont, your only role and purpose is to support the Behemoth welfare system. The voters on the Left are recipients, participants, and profiteers of the Vermont welfare system. The only thing Vermont is successful at is creating serfs and slaves by convincing people they cannot succeed at anything unless they are on the government dole and under government control. The NWO globalist agenda is here.

    • There are people in towns and cities within Vermont, Newport being one of them, where the landlords advertise in Massachusetts, for renting their properties, subsidized of course.

      This free housing is a landing pad for drug dealers……drugs, sex, free place to stay with your “sweety”.

      And then you have articles in the paper questioning, “Why does a small northern city, Newport, have big city crime and issues? ”

      EVERYBODY is making bank on keeping people poor in Vermont. That’s why it’s not changing. When you can renovate an old hotel for $500k per room, for “affordable” housing for the homeless, do you think it will ever stop? No! State pays the rent regardless of income state gives grants, sugardaddy loans, forgive loans, non-profits and regional planners all line up at the trough to get the pickin’s

      This is crony capitalism, brother of socialism, first cousin to communism and marxism.

      The reason why there is no affordability in socialist or communist countries; and also Vermont , is because too many people have their hands in the till. By the time the help arrives to the receiver there is nothing left on the chicken, it’s just picked clean. Legalist crony capitalism is perhaps worse than socialism, because it fools so many people.

      • It’s all been turned into an economy; poor people and making poor people.
        I don’t see how it’s all that different from trafficking people- really.
        There is a ton of money to be made off of creating problems for people, this is why they are at it non-stop.
        Successful, happy people that can be self reliant don’t have any need for government.. so that is the last thing they want.

        This is why I think we all are really getting to the point where it’s time to bail on New England..
        Why do able bodied, young and hopeful people full of life and the desire to succeed want to be forced to pull a wagon that looks like this?
        To stay here is to have an anchor around your neck- it’s only a matter of time before you wind up being one of these poor, down trodden types yourself !!
        Their plan is not for you to make it, it’s to take you down.

  2. It is a disturbing thought process that would lead this statement from a Vermont political appointee:
    “A huge part of why that happens is women spend a disproportionate amount of time in unpaid labor taking care of family members and the home,” she said. “And this is something that’s always been true, Our entire economy rests on unpaid and underpaid labor being done by women, by people of color. We’ve built this country through the labor of enslaved people.”
    I’m not entirely sure that a majority of women think of their role as mothers, wives and partners as an “enslaved person”. That the premise of this individuals skewed ideas has become mainstream is disrespectful of every mother- and every parent, but I’ve come to expect little but divisive rhetoric from
    these social activists. It is indeed tragic that our tax dollars pay such misguided people.

    • You have to wonder what tact will be used by the marxist Vermonters now that we have a real Constitutional amendment banning “involuntary servitude”. Traditionally motherhood is considered a CHOICE, as in “pro-choice” but now some of the radical marxists seem to imply that fertile women (pregnancy-prone persons if you prefer) are forced into this role by “the partriarchy” and have no real free will in the matter. Will the “sperm donor” (traditionally called the father) be in violation of the Vermont Constitution by virtue of the action of one cell of his body “invading” an egg cell in the “birther person” and enslaving the host organism (the mother)? These are confusing times. Life was simpler in Vermont before the “hippie enlightenment” and the Bernie era.

  3. Kiah Morris, the executive director of Rights and Democracy

    This is an Astro turf organization brought into our state with operatives from the South Side of Chicago….

    This is going on all across our state and country. Political operatives hiding under non-profits, think tanks, NGO’s, lobbyists groups. Our state is certainly not run by elected officials, our government is but a thin cheap shell for the corporatists, NWO pimps and water boys for the united nations….

    All of which circle around the idea of “Build back better”, “you will own nothing and be happy”…

    Which when you put on your marxist decoder ring, comes out true by their actions and deeds, of “We will own everything, control everything and you will be our chattel. Modern day slavery, to which “we voted for”.

    Nice thing about tiny homes? And this was the “states idea”……you can move your chattel around the country much easier. Tiny homes is about the dumbest idea on the planet….expensive homes you can’t get loans for, zoning won’t allow and most certainly can’t have a couple of kids living with you. But it’s home grown idea from those of the NWO, passed down to those whom do their bidding.

    And if they can just keep us fighting each other, brother vs. brother, fighting over which political party is better and evil……they’ll complete their bidding.

    They seem to be getting the largest farce, criminal crimes against humanity…….to go away. But don’t forget to wear your mask!

  4. Paid time off for certain imaginary or real needs is a fringe benefit that any employer is free in this employees market to offer to attract workers. Some are understandably wary that there could be rampant abuse of such a benefit. Some employers offer break time for smokers to scratch their itch during worktime but offer no such benefit to those who have CHOSEN to not be tobacco addicts. Not everyone is in a life situation where they will be welcoming a new family addition or have elderly or ill family members who depend on them. This is a situation where EQUALITY TRUMPS EQUITY. Just because someone chooses to take on more time liabilities for family obligations, why should they get more paid time off than anyone else? Almost EVERY employer in the State of Vermont has a help wanted sign up and no one is paying less than $15/hour. Almost all full-time employers provide paid time off and most refer to it as “vacation time”. They dont tell you how to spend that time and you are free to choose between laying on a beach or caring for a newborn or other loved one. If you need more time than is provided paid, it is not unreasonable that you are granted by law the time off WITHOUT pay, but who can stay in business for long paying people to not work? Victimhood is a key attribute to many liberal Vermonters, and they will find creative excuses to get that family/medical paid time off if they see everyone else doing it. Paid maternity/paternity leave sounds reasonable at first until it morphs into “my cat is sick”, “my neighbor needs a ride to the doctor”, “I need a mental health day” etc etc. Does the Vermont Legislature have any idea how difficult it is to run a business in this state? They just keep piling on. Providing paid time off for an employee to deal with personal issues is simply NOT the responsibility of employers. This will not end well. Molly Grey, how can we miss you if you wont go away? The price of your short tenured legacy in Vermont politics will be bankruptcy for small businesses subject to this socialist insanity.

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