May 3, 2012
New Jersey Working Families Celebrate 4th Anniversary of Passage of Paid Family Leave Law
On the 4th Anniversary of the passage of New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Law, working families have a reason to celebrate. “The value of this program to workers, from both a financial and social perspective is immense. This program provides wage replacement (2/3rd of salary up to $572 in 2012) so workers don’t have to choose between paying their mortgages and spending time with a new born baby or seriously ill family member when they need it the most – and that is priceless,” said Wowkanech. The program, which has been operating extremely efficiently, has provided just over $202 million in benefits to 81,702 individuals since its implementation in July 2009. In 2012, workers are paying just $24.24 a year for this vital social insurance program.
New Jersey’s paid family leave law illustrates what can be accomplished when progressive legislators that understand middle class labor issues and community organizations come together. Three of the law’s prime sponsors, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman Nelson Albano and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo are progressive labor leaders and understand firsthand how important this program is to workers.
Furthermore, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO led the coalition “New Jersey’s Partnership for Working Families,” which consisted of over 60 unions, faith organizations, consumer groups, women and minority organizations in support of the law. “The passage of this law took almost 13 years. Without the support of this coalition and these organizations, workers in the state would not be able to receive this benefit, plain and simple. These groups formed a grassroots mobilization effort that empowered tens of thousands of workers to voice their support for the bill to legislators and Governor Corzine. This type of citizen activism is one of the main reasons New Jersey is only the second state in the country to have this program,” said Wowkanech.
“Today is a day to reflect not only on the success of the paid family leave program, but also on the important role the trade union movement has played in establishing other important social safety net programs that benefit all workers and society in general, not just unions members – including social security, workers compensation and unemployment insurance,” concluded Wowkanech.