Cassidy, Jenya


Jenya Cassidy is the Education and Training Coordinator at the Labor Project for Working Families.

Educating and Empowering Workers on Paid Family Leave

By Jenya Cassidy
Labor Project for Working Families

A good shop steward knows that after bargaining a contract, the union’s work has just begun.   Stewards and leaders must now educate and empower members in order to enforce newly-negotiated language like overtime pay, shift differentials and time off for family events. The same is true when we pass a worker-friendly law like California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL).

PFL allows California workers to get some wage replacement when taking leave to bond with a new child or to care for a sick family member.  But research shows that low income, immigrant and Latino workers are least likely to know about the law even when they need to take leave. Union and work family activists are learning that passing the law was just the first step – we still have to educate and empower the workers who need it most.

Study: California Working Families Benefit from Landmark Paid Family Leave Law

By Jenya Cassidy
Labor Project for Working Families

The good news: Since California unions and community organizations helped pass Paid Family Leave legislation in 2002, over one million people have used the program, which provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement for workers who take time off to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member.

A newly released report, Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California (Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, 2011) shows that 91% of those who used the benefit said that it had a positive effect on their ability to care for a new baby, foster or adopted child. California’s Paid Family Leave program has doubled the median duration of breastfeeding for all new mothers who used it. And it also benefits new fathers, as the number of men using the program to bond with new babies has steadily increased since the law was first passed.