Last week, Netflix made a huge splash when they announced they would be giving their employees unlimited paid family leave for the first year after parents welcome a new addition to their family. Microsoft followed suit and announced they too would be extending their paid family leave policy, as well. This has caused a conversation about whether or not the federal government should amend its labor laws to require businesses to offer paid time off for new parents. Democrats fully support this pro-family policy, but at least one Republican presidential candidate has come out against a family leave mandate: former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Carly Fiorina has been called the GOP’s new shining star after the debate on Thursday and that isn’t surprising given the fact that her policies are as pro-business, anti-worker as a Republican can get. On Sunday, Fiorina told CNN’s State of the Union host, Jake Tapper, that she does not support any move by the federal government to force companies to
treat their employees decently give their employees paid time off:
“I don’t think it’s the role of government to dictate to the private sector how to manage their businesses, especially when it’s pretty clear that the private sector, like Netflix…is doing the right thing because they know it helps them attract the right talent,” she said.
It absolutely is the government’s job to ensure that American workers are being treated fairly by private sector businesses. The history of labor in this country proves that when the private sector is left to their own devices most of them will treat workers poorly. Paid family time is a good example of this and American businesses are behind every other developed nation.
The U.S. is currently one of three, out of 185, governments that do have a mandate that allows mothers time off after they have a baby; 70 other governments make sure new fathers get time off as well. As a matter of fact, only 12 percent of the private sector workforce is given paid family leave and the majority of those jobs are white-collar jobs.
If you are an unlucky member of this country’s working poor, chances are you will not be given paid time off after you have a baby. Only 5 percent of America’s lowest paid 25 percent of workers is offered paid family leave, but 21 percent of the 25 percent of wage earners are given paid time off. That means, 95 percent of America’s lowest earners are forced to go back to work almost immediately after having a baby — maternity and paternity is just a dream for them.
The right will say that paid family leave will hurt businesses and affect their bottom line, but that’s a lie. Think Progress reports that three states currently require businesses to give their employees time off: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. None of these states have reported anything but positive results:
And the evidence from those experiments goes against Fiorina’s claim that it would be “ineffective” and “hypocritical” for government to mandate leave when it “hasn’t gotten its basic house in order.” In California, the vast majority of businesses report that the paid leave law had either a positive impact or none at all on profitability, employee performance, and productivity and it helped reduce turnover. In New Jersey, the majority of businesses also say that it hasn’t hurt their finances, while some saw similar benefits.
Of course, they haven’t, because a happy workforce is a productive workforce. If employees feel like they are being taken care of by their employers, they a much more likely to work hard for them. Furthermore, if women are given time to recuperate and/or bond with their babies after they are born, they are much more likely to reenter the workforce. This would save companies $89 million a year.
If you thought Carly Fiorina would be more likely to support this issue because she is a woman, you were mistaken. Fiorina is as bad as her male counterparts and just as misogynistic. She is the worst kind of woman; she does not support us in any way. The GOP candidate doesn’t believe we should have control over our bodies, she thinks the “war on women” is a made up war, she doesn’t think we deserve the Paycheck Fairness Act. She is just like every other Republican woman willing to sacrifice her own rights to please her sexist base and her chauvinistic party bosses.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.