06.10.21

Senator Murray Objects to Republican Attempt to Pass Legislation Forcing Workers without Paid Leave Into a False Choice

Senator Murray: “Now is no time for more false choices and stress for workers—it’s a time to get real solutions over the finish line.”

 

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S REMARKS HERE*** 

 

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, objected to Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) attempt to pass the misleadingly named Working Families Flexibility Act, which would fail to provide workers with comprehensive paid leave, instead allowing employers to offer comp time instead of time-and-a-half pay for overtime. Additionally, under this bill, workers wouldn’t even have the guaranteed right to use the comp time they’ve earned—even when there’s an emergency. Moreover, if a worker’s claim is denied, their only option to fight back is to request their comp time be cashed out—but employers have a whole month to comply. In remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Murray made clear that in order to build back an economy that works for everyone, it is critical to offer workers true support and flexibility—and that means passing comprehensive paid sick, family and medical leave policies.

 

When this pandemic struck, we saw just how costly not having paid leave has been for workers, families, businesses, and our country. Millions of workers were forced to choose between the wellbeing of themselves, their coworkers, and their families, or their paycheck,” said Senator Murray on the Senate floor. “This pandemic has made it clearer than ever: it is far past time we make paid leave a right for all, not a privilege for some. Now is no time for more false choices and stress for workers—it’s a time to get real solutions over the finish line.”

 

With 32 million private sector workers—disproportionately women and people of color—without paid sick leave, and more than half of Americans currently living pay-check to pay-check, this bill’s so-called “flexibility” is actually no choice at all. Senator Murray stressed that what workers truly need is a comprehensive paid sick, family and medical leave policy—to ensure that they don’t have to choose between their paycheck and taking care of themselves of a loved one. She urged her colleagues to join her in working to pass the FAMILY Act—which she introduced alongside Senator Gillibrand—to finally establish a national paid family and medical leave program, and the Healthy Families Act—which she introduce with Rep. Rosa DeLauro—to provide workers with paid sick days.

 

“Anyone who is serious about making sure workers can support themselves and care for themselves and their families should reject this bill and work with my colleagues and I to pass Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act and the Healthy Families Act Congresswoman DeLauro and I introduced,” continued Senator Murray. “Our legislation would actually, truly give workers flexibility and a weight off their shoulders as they navigate the kinds of tough times we all encounter in our lives.

 

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“Thank you M. President.

 

“Over the last year we heard constantly that you should, ‘Stay home when you’re sick.’

 

“It’s good advice, of course—and the right thing to do for public health. I certainly encouraged people to.

 

“But what I thought about every single time was—what about the workers who can’t just stay home? Because there a lot of them.

 

“Right now, 32 million American workers do not have access to a single paid sick day.

 

“Let me repeat: 32 million people in the United States will lose pay if they stay home because they are sick, or because they have to care for a sick loved one.

 

“And only 20 percent of private sector workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employer—meaning millions of workers will lose pay if they give birth, or have a sick child—just to offer a few examples.

 

“What I hear from workers in these situations is, they need to know they have the ability to take time off without worrying about losing a paycheck and without worrying about whether their boss will allow it.

 

“This is why I’m on the floor today to object in the strongest terms to the misleadingly titled bill the Senator from Utah just proposed.

 

“This bill would allow employers to offer workers comp time instead of time-and-a-half pay when workers put in overtime.

 

“Now, here’s why this won’t work when it comes to taking paid leave.

 

“Under this bill, the so-called “Working Families Flexibility Act” workers would have no guaranteed right to use the comp time they’ve earned—even when there’s an emergency…

 

“And it actually gets worse from there.

 

“Under this bill, if a worker’s claim is denied, their only option to fight back is to request their comp time be cashed out…

 

“And the employer has a whole month to comply.

 

“Madam President, as of March 2021, more than half of Americans said they were living paycheck to paycheck—a month isn’t going to work for them.

 

“Anyone who is serious about making sure workers can support themselves and care for themselves and their families should reject this bill and work with my colleagues and I to pass Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act and the Healthy Families Act Congresswoman DeLauro and I introduced.

 

“Our legislation would actually, truly give workers flexibility and a weight off their shoulders as they navigate the kinds of tough times we all encounter in our lives.

 

“Because look: when this pandemic struck, we saw just how costly not having paid leave has been for workers, families, businesses, and our country.

 

“Millions of workers were forced to choose between the wellbeing of themselves, their coworkers, and their families, or their paycheck.

 

“Millions were infected and millions more—especially women and workers of color—were forced out of their jobs in large part due to lacking paid leave or quality, affordable child care options.

 

“This pandemic has made it clearer than ever: it is far past time we make paid leave a right for all, not a privilege for some.

 

“Now is no time for more false choices and stress for workers—it’s a time to get real solutions over the finish line.”

 

###