a brief sojourn into activism

A lot of working parents like me and landisdad benefited greatly from the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when our kids were born. It’s not just the FMLA itself, it’s also the change in our society, that made it more acceptable for men to take paternity leave, but the Act gave men the legal right to take that leave, and I think that’s a good thing. If you do too, keep reading. If not, surf on.

Dear landismom,

The Department of Labor officially announced that it will make changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act, but didn’t say when these changes will be released or what they’d look like.

They Want Rollbacks To FMLA

Already, Republican leaders and business groups are making recommendations on rollbacks they’d like to see.

  • Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula said that by including illnesses that last three or more days as a “serious health condition,” the Dept. of Labor creates “an abuse loophole that will continue to grow.”
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants FMLA changed so that workers that need to take intermittent leave to deal with a continuing illness (like doctor’s visits for radiation treatment) should be required to take a half-day minimum of leave. As a result, a worker’s FLMA leave would get used up faster.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers wants the Dept. of Labor to “restore the meaning of the word ‘serious’ to serious health conditions” — suggesting that FMLA covers too many illnesses.

Last month, more than 200 organizations, including the AFL-CIO, sent a letter to the Department of Labor urging them to provide more solutions to help workers balance work and family — not cut FMLA.

We know the statistics on FMLA: Since the law passed in 1993, more than 50 million working people—half of them men—have been able to take time off to bond with new babies, care for seriously ill family members or recover from their own illnesses. We also know the law doesn’t go far enough: The FMLA does not cover all workers, and the leave is unpaid. Three in four workers who needed to take FMLA leave, but did not take it said they couldn’t afford to go without a paycheck.

We Want to Hear From You!

Statistics only tell us so much. So, we need your stories! We want to use your stories on FMLA leave to put a personal perspective on the campaign to save FMLA. Members of Congress and the press are always asking us for stories from individuals. (Of course, we’d ask for your permission before they use your name or contact you directly.) Since the Department of Labor could announce their changes to FMLA very soon, we need to start collecting FMLA stories right away!

If you or someone in your family used FMLA leave and would like to share your story with us, please e-mail us back at workingwomen@aflcio.org with:

  1. Why is FMLA important to you?
  2. Why did you use FMLA leave?
  3. How long were you away from work on leave?
  4. What would you have done if you didn’t have FMLA leave?
  5. Your name:
  6. Your city and state:
  7. Your union (if applicable):

If you know someone (a friend, neighbor or coworker) who has a story they may want to share with us, please forward this e-mail to them.

At a time when working women are stretched thin trying to make ends meet, we need laws to expand family and medical leave, not make it more difficult for us to balance work and family.


Working Women, AFL-CIO


June 7, 2005. politically motivated.


  1. Holly replied:

    Without the FMLA to protect me I could be out of a job. My son and I both had whooping cough last year and this year we both had serious flu cases that kept us home for more than three days. My job is very anal about attendance. My son also has medical issues which require doctors appointments at least 2 to 3 times a month. FMLA ensures that my employer has to let me take that time off, and not hold it against me. Getting paid would help, but at least not loosing my job is astart

  2. Library Lady replied:

    It doesn’t surprise me that our government officials want to cut FMLA, considering that a lot of them never wanted it in the first place!

    I was grateful that the FMLA allowed me to take leave when my girls were born, but because it was UNPAID leave, I ended up being only able to take about 6 weeks of it with my 2nd daughter.

    It really infuriates me to have politicians going on about “family values” that seem to only apply to parents who can afford to stay home with their children!

  3. Zandperl replied:

    I agree that the FMLA is important. Due to their biological child-rearing status, women face discrimination in the workplace, and the FMLA helps to reduce this somewhat. Having just started off in my own career, I am considering how to balance a family and work when I decide to have children, and it encourages me that I will be able to take time off without being fired–if they don’t gut the FMLA!

  4. chip replied:

    It’s not just for moms, zandperl! Dads are parents too!! 🙂

    This kind of thing just really p***es me off to no end! These people are so greedy! And the republicans claim to be the party of family values. What BS! Thanks for the alert landismom. Be sure to pass it along to rebeldad if you haven’t already.

  5. Comfort Addict replied:

    The FMLA is the least that we can do to help people balance work and family. Unfortunately, the “race to the bottom” mentality (fostered by executives evermore greedy for profits) seems to be in ascendance these days. If you don’t like it, the employers say, I’ll just go to China.

    I’ll forward that note to my senators and congressman (all of whom, I’m happy to say, would support its sentiment).

  6. Elise replied:

    My husband took at least a month off after each of our three kids. Not only did he want to do it for himself, but it was really important for me because I don’t have any family close by that would come and help out. I also needed to be in the hospital for a week in between my first two kids for a pretty serious surgery that had quite a long recovery period. I really counted on him staying home. Once again no other family came to help out. What would I have done without him? I also consider that time he spent with the kids when they were babies as necessary. What’s the point of having kids if you can’t spend time with them?

    The problem with many people who spout off “family first” is that they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk!

    By the way -its me “justlittleoldme”. I was a little confused when setting up my blog and realize “elise” is easier!!lol

  7. betty replied:

    Having the option of using FMLA is very important to a lot of families for a variety of reasons!

    As my mother gets older, her health may deteriorate in such a way that my siblings and I may have to take turns taking FMLA time to care for her until we can find a more permanent solution for her care. In terms of future planning for this event (which may or may not happen), I had naturally expected FMLA to still be around for our use!

  8. landismom replied:

    Holly, I’m sorry to hear about your son, and glad that the FMLA has helped you out. I agree that the failure to provide paid leave is a problem, and I hope you are able to share your story with the organizations that are working to save (and improve?) the FMLA.

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I really think this is a no-brainer, but I know there’s a whole other side out there, who thinks that the FMLA is a symptom of creeping socialism. Chip, I will forward this to rebeldad, thanks for the suggestion.

    Betty–yes, I’m not yet in a position to be worrying about taking care of an aging parent, but that is one thing I had counted on the FMLA for too.

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