Current Call to Action from the state fed:
Nearly every legislative session since 2011, a Republican legislator has introduced legislation to attack our strong Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act. Each and every time, Wisconsin’s working men and women have sounded the alarm, resulting in no changes to Wisconsin’s FMLA. This legislative session proves to be no different. Late last week, Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) circulated draft legislation, LRB 2015, that would significantly weaken and gut Wisconsin’s FMLA. This draft legislation could be introduced any day.
Wisconsin was one of the first states to pass a Family and Medical Leave Act in 1988. The federal government followed Wisconsin’s lead when it passed the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993. For the last 29 years, Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has strengthened families by providing Wisconsin’s workers with more protections than its federal counterpart.
Urge your lawmaker to support new parents and strong families. Contact your legislators today and tell them to keep Wisconsin’s strong FMLA protections in place by rejecting LRB 2015.
The Family Medical and Leave Act protects Wisconsinites from discharge or discrimination for taking appropriate leave after the birth of a newborn child or an illness of a family member. The Wisconsin FMLA allows for a stronger definition of family, better protections for part-time work and more freedom in how and when you use your FMLA protections.
Under the proposed draft bill, any business, and employee of that business, which is covered under the Federal FMLA will not have the additional rights afforded by Wisconsin’s FMLA.
This will mean that many workers will not have the following rights under Wisconsin law:
• The right to substitute accrued time: Under Wisconsin’s FMLA, the employee chooses whether to substitute accrued paid leave of any type (e.g., vacation, sick, PTO) for unpaid leave. With the Federal FMLA, the employer can force the employee to substitute paid vacation, personal leave and compensatory time for any type of federal FMLA leave.
• Intermittent leave: Under Wisconsin’s FMLA, workers can take intermittent leave for all family and medical emergencies in increments equal to the shortest increment permitted by the employer for any other non-emergency leave. Federal FMLA permits intermittent leave ONLY for serious health conditions, not for the birth or adoption of a child.
• Taking Care of In-Laws: Under Wisconsin’s FMLA, employees can use FMLA to care for themselves or their child, parent, parent-in-law, or domestic partner. Under the federal FMLA, employees are not allowed to use FMLA to care for their parent-in-law or domestic partner.
• Part-time employees: Under Wisconsin’s FMLA, employees are eligible so long as they work at least 1,000 hours over the last year (on average just under 20 hours per week), and this includes paid time off. Under the Federal FMLA, employees are eligible for FMLA so long as they actually work 1,250 hours, this total does not include paid time off.
Weakening Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act goes against the Wisconsin values of fairness, justice and strong family support. Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave is a lifeline relied upon each year by countless workers going through the difficult task of caring for themselves or for a family member facing a medical emergency. It gives new parents appropriate time to bond and care for a newborn baby without worrying about losing their job.
Now is not the time to weaken FMLA. Rather, now is the time to strengthen its protections by allowing more – not less – workers to be covered by Wisconsin’s FMLA and to ensure that all workers receive some form of paid leave.
Contact your legislators today and urge them to keep Wisconsin’s strong FMLA protections in place by rejecting LRB 2015.
Phil Neuenfeldt, President, Wisconsin AFL-CIO
Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasure, Wisconsin AFL-CIO