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Debra L. Ness Headshot

Success is Inevitable

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Today's working families are juggling 'Ozzie and Harriet' policies in a web 2.0 world, and it's simply not sustainable. Workers are struggling to care for their families while both parents hold jobs. Families are straining to meet increasing child- and eldercare responsibilities. Parents have little savings to fall back on, and few jobs - and even fewer good jobs - to apply for, should they lose the jobs they have.

Every day we see the consequences, which include more sick children at school and daycare, more families facing foreclosure and bankruptcy because illness struck, and more mothers and fathers struggling mightily to juggle their work and family responsibilities.

Those realities make a mockery of our claim to value families, and they are the reason that paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, flextime and other work/family measures have overwhelming public support. They are the right policies for our families, our economy, and our times.

National Work and Family Month just ended with ample evidence about the work that needs to be done. Residents of Milwaukee are still awaiting the implementation of the paid sick days law they approved two years ago with nearly 70 percent support. New York City workers are still waiting for Speaker Christine Quinn to recognize that paid sick days legislation is good for both the city's workers and its businesses. And we're all still waiting for Congress to complete FY2011 appropriations that we hope will contain modest funds for state paid leave programs.

Yet despite all these delays--and an election that may well put in office more opponents of the reasonable, modest work/family policies the nation urgently needs-- I am convinced that success on family support programs is inevitable. That's because measures like paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, flextime and others are not risky, not untested, not damaging to businesses, and not harmful to our economy. In fact, where these policies have been put in place, businesses and employees have grown stronger.

So regardless of the outcome of this election, it's only a matter of time until fair-minded lawmakers from both parties join workers in saying: Enough.

That day will come sooner if workers and advocates join together to speak out, organize, and demand the programs and policies Americans deserve.

There are many challenges before us, but there is no doubt that our nation can and will do better for working families. The cost of continuing inaction is simply too high.