June 16, 2022
MISSOURI – Missouri Jobs with Justice (MO JWJ) and our partners applaud the City of St. Louis for adopting paid family and medical leave for thousands of city workers. After hearing from working families about the difficulties to manage work and family obligations, MO JWJ and other organizations have been mobilizing in support of the policies at municipal and private sector employers.
“Most of us work hard for our families, no matter our zip code, income, race, or job title. For too long, our families and communities have been forced to choose between making ends meet and being there for our loved ones in times of need,” said Caitlyn Adams, Executive Director of Missouri Jobs with Justice.
“I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through,” said Tecona Sullivan a Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO 2) for the Department of Refuse and President of AFCSME Local 410. In 2017, Tecona suffered unimaginable loss when her son and grandson were lost to gun violence. Her doctor prescribed needed time off to deal with the loss and while FMLA guaranteed the time, it was unpaid. “After years of dedicated service to the city, I was on the verge of being terminated and losing my home. Too many of us are already living paycheck to paycheck. This bill will help thousands of city workers in times of necessity so we don’t have to choose between our families, our health, and our jobs. I applaud the City of St. Louis for taking this important step.”
State pre-emption laws prevent the city from enacting a stronger blanket policy for all workers in the city, but with this example from St. Louis City, other employers may soon follow.
“Employers who want to attract and retain the best employees should take note and adopt strong paid leave policies,” said Nancy Bukovic, Board President of Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis
St Louis County is already looking to expand on their policy, which currently offers 2 weeks of paid time, but proposed legislation would go up to 12 weeks in instances of childbirth or adoption.
“Paid leave brings equity to help Black moms and birthing people take much-needed time for health, wellness, and infant bonding without fear of lost wages. We look forward to more municipalities and companies making this important investment,” said Lora Gulley, Director of Advocacy and Community Mobilization with Generate Health
“I would like to applaud Mayor Tishaura Jones and the Board of Alderman for making paid FMLA for city workers a reality,” said Mark Cavanah, Area Organizing Director & Administrator with AFSCME Local 410 who represents hundreds of city workers in Refuse, Water, and the Airport. “This will help those who are put into a situation that would negatively impact their finances by having to care for a loved one, child, or recover from illness. We need more leaders to step up and make this a reality across the St. Louis Metro area and eventually nationwide.”
Through this pandemic, the need for robust paid leave policies has only become more evident.
- More than 600,000 Missouri workers do not have access to a single minute of paid time off to help an ailing family member, welcome a new child, or get the care we need to stay healthy
- 53 million Americans provided unpaid care in 2020, up from 43.5 million in 2015
- Working families lose $20.6 billion in lost wages due to lack of paid leave – money that cannot be put back into our local economy.
We will continue to push our elected officials to invest in the people who make up our neighborhoods and communities. Today’s victory should inspire other municipalities and the private sector to adopt strong paid family and medical leave policies. By coming together, we will build a Missouri where we all have what we need to live full, vibrant lives – no matter where we call home.
Full list of organizations urging St. Louis City to provide paid family and medical leave:
AAUW Metro St. Louis Interbranch Council
A Better Balance
Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Missouri Section
Action St. Louis
AFSCME Local 410
Child Day Care Association Of Saint Louis (United 4 Children)
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – St. Louis Chapter
Fathers and Families Support Center
Gateway to Hope
Generate Health St. Louis
League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis
Living with Purpose
Missouri Healthcare for All
Missouri Jobs with Justice
National Council of Jewish Women
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women’s Political Caucus – MO
National Women’s Political Caucus – STL
Quinn Chapel AME Church
SkiWise Health and Wellness Services
St. Louis City NAACP
Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis
Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice