Name: Arvia Walker, MSW
Occupation: Community Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Your role in the CT Campaign for Paid Family Leave: Organizing canvasses in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. My job is to elevate the stories of people of color in these communities and throughout the state.
- Why do you support paid family leave?
I focus on supporting healthy and safe families and communities. Economic justice issues disproportionally affect people of color and paid family leave is no exception.
- How did you become aware of paid family leave?
I heard about paid family leave through social media and the widespread conversations that were occurring about the U.S. providing zero weeks of paid family leave or maternity leave.
- Why is this issue important to you?
Paid family leave is important for my future. I want to have children some day and as the oldest child in my family, I know and desire to care for my mother as she ages. More broadly, this issue is important to me because it is unjust to ask people to take unpaid leave when they can barely make their ends meet working full-time on minimum wage. When families have many things to worry about during difficult health crises or life changing additions to the family, they should remain financially stable.
- What do you wish all people knew about paid family leave?
That paid family leave is inexpensive; the CT proposed plan is employee-funded (only a small portion of one’s paycheck is deducted). Another aspect of paid family leave I think gets convoluted is that this is different than paid sick days. We need both! Paid sick days do not cover long-term illnesses of a worker, for a worker to leave to care for a family member, or the birth or adoption of a child
- What was the most impactful story you heard from the community about paid family leave?
I think overall the difference in experiences between those who have paid family leave and those without it. One woman felt this complete sense of gratitude for having paid family leave for the birth of her daughter. She was able to focus on finding child care and building a relationship with her rather than worrying about not having as much time or paying her bills. Another individual described taking FMLA for his father’s illness, which is unpaid. He did not receive a promotion that he was close to receiving and felt discriminated against for taking the unpaid leave. That, combined with losing pay, resulted in added stress on top of dealing with his father’s circumstances.
- How will paid family leave change Connecticut?
Paid family leave will strengthen the workforce by increasing the amount of trust between employer-employees. The benefits will help incentivize and sustain employment among workers by decreasing turnover.