Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez says it's time for paid family and medical leave. She's made a bold suggestion: Either the State does it, or the City will.
Gonzales held an open forum on Wednesday at Seattle City Hall, laying out potential guidelines for a new policy which includes six months of paid family and medical leave. According to Gonzalez, anyone making under $75,000 could receive full reimbursement if forced to take leave.
"It's fundamentally unjust to say that you can take time off, but we're not willing to pay you to take care of a basic human need that we all have," said the councilmember, who also showed data claiming nearly half the city does not receive full paid leave. "Under this proposal, it would be set up like an insurance fund...and everybody pays into an insurance fund."
"If you earn less than $75,000, you will stand to be able to get 100 percent of your weekly wages paid to you out of the fund for participating in this," she added.
The proposal is not formal but comes just a day before Gonzalez and other Seattle councilmembers visit Olympia to lobby on the City's behalf. Gonzalez suggested, depending on those conversations, she may pursue legislation this year.
Opposition is coming from businesses and from a handful of people who testified on Wednesday that the City didn't need to pursue legislation until the State finishes its work. Others have voiced concerns about the small business impact.
Angelica Gonzalez, who has no relation to Councilmember Gonzalez, testified Wednesday that's she's a working single mother, also attending law school, and needs paid leave.
"I'm the sole breadwinner," she said. "You don't get the access to have a sick day for yourself."