When you spend most of your days walking the halls of Congress advocating for issues and legislation that you truly believe in, you get used to finding motivation in the little things. You also quickly learn that some days are special – they are the moments when you can feel progress happening. That’s exactly how I felt at the end of last week.
That’s because so many lawmakers, organizations and people across the country helped commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), our nation’s first law designed to help women and men meet the dual demands of job and family – a law that the National Partnership proudly drafted and led the fight for.
To mark the occasion, we partnered with the 1,000 Days campaign to hand deliver more than 230,000 signatures from people across the country who want Congress to fulfill the FMLA’s promise of truly family friendly workplaces by establishing a national paid family and medical leave law, specifically the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act.
In total, we met with members of Congress and staff from eight offices, including the FAMILY Act’s lead sponsors Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.). The officials and staff we spoke with were delighted to see the breadth of support for the FAMILY Act and said they were in awe of the many signatures and stories we shared.
But that’s not all. That same day, the National Partnership released new poll results showing that nearly four in five voters say they think it’s important for elected officials to update the law to guarantee paid family and medical leave. And 76 percent say they would support a national paid leave fund like the one the FAMILY Act would create.
The very next day more than 5,000 Twitter accounts – including those of 63 members of Congress – used #FMLA23 to call for progress on paid leave. The hashtag was so popular that it trended nationally and in Boston, Chicago, D.C., New York and Seattle and it’s estimated that it appeared in the news feeds of more than 17.2 million unique Twitter users.
In the end, it was an exciting few days for those of us working to advance paid leave, and a sure sign that people nationwide and many members of Congress are ready for more action. As I look to the weeks and months ahead, I know we’re just getting started. Check out more photos from the day of action, and then take your own action to support the FAMILY Act.