Skip to main content

tv   House Oversight Hearing on Paid Family Medical Leave  CSPAN  December 10, 2019 10:13am-1:01pm EST

10:13 am
10:14 am
the committee will come to orderment good morni o order. good morning to everyone. without objection the chair is allowed to declare a recess at anytime. i'll recognize myself for my opening statement. i'm honored to be conveeting today's hearing, my very first as chair woman. as we continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, elijah cummings. i am mindful of his life long mission to seek not only common ground, but higher ground. with that in mind, i'm very pleased to hold today tfs hearing on an issue we have been fighting for for many years, the
10:15 am
need for comprehensive paid family and medical leave. it's important for people to understand the current situation in our country. right now, we're one of only two nations in the world that does not provide our workers with any form of paid family or medical leave. the united states and papua new guinea. i remember when i was pregnant with my first child and i asked my offices about leave policy. and do you know what they said? leave, what leave? women just leave. we expect you to leave. and i said i didn't intend to leave, i intended to come back to work and they said it's the only time it's ever happened. that was an unacceptable answer then and it's an unacceptable answer now for families across the country. there are some basic and fundamental questions we need to face as a society.
10:16 am
for example, if a young woman, a hard working and promising employee wants to have a child and spend a few weeks caring for her new born, should she be forced to go without any paid maternity leave at all? or should we as a nation finally recognize that having a child is a wonderful and predictable part of our employees' lives that we should support. if a father's two-year-old daughter is diagnosed with cancer, should he be forced to take leave without pay and face financial hardship in order to take his daughter to her chemotherapy treatments? or should we as a nation do better by them? if a man who has dedicated his entire professional career to serving the american people as to help care for his wife as a stroke, should he be forced to leave the workplace all together or should we as a nation value him and his contributions? these are the questions we as
10:17 am
policymakers must answer. we are the ones that make these decisions. i believe with all my heart that we need a policy that supports hard working young women who are having their children, that supports the father in crisis who is carrying for his 2-year-old daughter with cancer. and that supports the dedicated husband who is helping his wife recover from her stroke. providing this benefit is a significant and important investment in our future. the future of children, parents, families, and our future as a nation. paid leave yields better outcomes for productivity, health of parents and children, and long-term financial stability. it also contributes to closing the gender wage gap. there are some who disagree. they oppose paid maternity and paternity leave and they oppose any type of paid family and medical leave.
10:18 am
but we are making progress in the fight that has been over 35 years in the making to give parents and caregivers who work for the government time to care for their newborns, sick children and other family members. champions like the chair of the then house civil service subcommittee started this important workforce effort to respect parents and caregivers and help them balance the economic and emotional needs of having a family so they wouldn't need to choose between their family and work. i have sponsored a bill for many years, previous versions of the bill passed the house twice but we have never gotten it through the senate. my current bill would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or fostering of a
10:19 am
child, for a serious medical condition or to care for an ill spouse or parent. the federal government is our nation's largest employer and should be a model employer for the nation. i was very pleased that the house passed these provisions as part of the national defense authorization act. when it went to the senate we were not sure if it would survive. we have been fighting for so long, we're did not know if it would finally happen, but during the past few days an agreement was struck to provide for 12 weeks of paid leave for employees at all federal agencies when they have a new baby or adopt a child. if this agreement is signed into law, it will be a tremendous victory for the more than 2.1 million employees across the country. parent finally will be able to have a child without worrying about their paychecks coming to a halt.
10:20 am
this is not perfect, for example, the father who needs to take his 2-year-old child to chemotherapy treatments would not be covered and neither would the husband who needs to care for his wife recovering from her stroke. in addition, this provision covers only federal employees so it does not cover anyone working in the private sector. we will continue fighting for these americans in the months and years to come. but despite these drawbacks, this is an amazing accomplishment. democrats made this issue a priority of our caucus. i want to thank speaker pelosi, the democratic women's caucus shared by lawrence spear, ed franco who have made it a priority along with the progressive caucus. and i would also like to acknowledge representative jerry
10:21 am
conley for his work on the issue. he's a tireless advocate. he held our committee's first hearing in this congress on this issue in his subcommittee. he's also a tremendous negotiator. he is one of our committee's conferees on the defense bill, along with steven lynch who is also phenomenal. they skillfully represented the interests of our committee, our workers and the american people in the negotiations with the senate that resulted in this victory. they also worked closely with chairman adam smith on the committee on armed services whose leadership and vision led to the achievement. as well as our partner in these efforts, democratic leader steny hoyer. i would like to recognize my good friend and colleague, the gentleman from virginia, mr. conley to give his opening statement. >> i thank the chair and congratulations on your first hearing i believe as chairman. >> yes, it is. >> but especially
10:22 am
congratulations on the signal victory. without your assistance and your tenacity, this would not have happened. and as you said, the job isn't complete, but this is a huge step forward. congratulations, chairwoman maloney. in september our subcommittee held the first hearing as the chairwoman first indicated to even discuss paid family leave for federal employees. the first hearing took ten years. again, it was due to the persistence of chairwoman maloney that we were able to have this hearing. i was honored to work with her to insure that a provision providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave to our talented federal workforce remained in the defensive authorization act and it seems we were successful. but the victory lap is somewhat circumscribed because there's still more work to do as the chairwoman just indicated. while we've secured paid
10:23 am
parental leave for federal employees, we must continue to fight for paid family caregiving leave and leave to care for one's own medical needs. now is the time to catch america up to the rest of the world when it comes to paid family and medical leave. leading businesses have long recognizes good paid leave policies for employees strengthen families and enhance recruitment and retention of a talented workforce. it's time that all of america's families and our national economy reap those benefits. i will continue to join with chairwoman maloney and others to fight for our nation's civil servants and their right to paid family and medical leave. we want all americans to enjoy those privileges and those rights. as we stated when fighting to insure paid parental leave for employees in the ndaa, too many employees both public and private have no access to leave. when they need it most. and it's time to take steps to insure they have it.
10:24 am
family leave is not a magnanimous gift provided by unsavvy employers. data shows that paid family leave improves recruitment morale, productivity and retention. a 2016 survey by deloit found that 77% american workers said paid family leave would sway their choice of an employer. that's particularly important in an environment with 3.5% unemployment. half of those surveyed would prefer family leave opportunities to a pay raise. a a study found that 80% of the companies with paid family leave policies found a positive impact on employee engagement. companies who institute paid leave policies found less attrition of their female employees. a rutgers survey found that women with access to paid family leave are 93% more likely to be working a year after having a child than those without that
10:25 am
benefit. paid leave is an effective incentive for all employees and can be a pivotal one for women particularly. with all these bfrenefits, the united states remains one of the only nations in the world that does not guarantee some form of paid leave. in fact, in 2018, less than 17% ofwo works in our country had access to paid leave benefits through their employer and less than that have access to paid leave. the lack of paid leave hurts american families and the economy. if our country took steps we're advocating for today. creating policies that encouraged women to participate in the workforce at the same rates as men, economists predict we would improve the nation's finances by half a trillion
10:26 am
dollars in economic activity per year. by providing leave to federal civil servants a year, it's estimated that agencies could prevent departures among women workers, sa workers. 62% of two parent families have both parents employed as they struggle to make ends meet. three quarters of women with children worked. beyond childcare outside the home -- our nation is aging and the size of families is decreasing. meaning more americans are and will be responsible for caring for older parents. currently one in four virginia workers, for example, in my state, is 55 or older. one in four. and in the next 15 years, the share of virginia's population over the age of 65 is projected to grow by 30%. that's not untypical of most of the country.
10:27 am
so we're going to need to care for our older family members. as a nation we need to take steps to insure we're prepared for those population shifts. in virginia, access to paid leave is even more concerning. for example, in 72% of our households with children, are parents have paying jobs. in 79% of homes with black moms in virginia, those moms are the breadwinners. in homes with white and latino mothers, mom's are the breadwinners in nearly half those homes. yet, 55% of our workforce does not have access to paid leave. even fewer have access to paid leave at all. it's time to change those policies. having baby, nursing your ailing dad or mom, sitting next to your sick teenager at the hospital, treating your own systems after radiation treatments for cancer, these are the most vulnerable moments for families. rife with emotion, and deep pain
10:28 am
and difficulty. these are the moments that demonstrate that we as americans care about each other. we need to enact policies that put families first. it's an easy step when it also makes economic sense. i thank the chair woman for her leadership and graciousness and i wish every success in our future endeavor. i yield back. >> thank you. i would now like to recognize the ranking member, mr. jordan. >> let me congratulate you, it's a big day for you. we appreciate that and wish you the best. we all miss our friend, chairman cummings, we look forward to working with you and your team. we hope we can work -- you'll work with republicans to root out waste fraud and abuse in the government and working for forms that make our government more efficient, effective and accountable. in that vein before i get to my opening statement.
10:29 am
there was a report released yesterday by the inspector general -- as you know, madam chair, this committee has jurisdiction over the inspector generals and the work they do in the various federal agencies across the government. we were hoping you would let us know when we would have mr. horowitz before us about his important and scathing report on the fisa court and what took place a few years ago in front of that court. do you have an idea when we might have that? >> the ranking member's request for a hearing with mr. horowitz is noted. we'll address that at the appropriate time. >> i appreciate that. the purpose of today's hearing is to discuss various proposals to pay federal employers for up to 12 weeks of leave and mandate various -- the best way to help employers and employees throughout the country is to pursue policies that promote economic growth and job creation. since president trump's
10:30 am
inauguration, his administration and republicans in congress have pursued policies to do exactly that. under the president's leadership we have been successful. the november jobs report shows our economy added 266,000 additional workers, 54,000 in the manufacturing sector, and unemployment fell to an unbelievably low rate of 3.5%. and i think that's because of policies, such as the tax cuts and jobs act, which the president signed into law almost two years ago now. because of our growing economy, companies are competing for workers and voluntarily expanding benefits for their employees. in our home state of ohio, for example, a construction group from lebanon was able to double the number of its employees, offer bigger bonuses to its employees, give more paid time off to its employees, and offer better healthcare benefits because of the tax cuts and jobs act. not because of any mandate from the federal government.
10:31 am
i have concerned about several proposals we'll discuss today. we must consider the potential trade offs from legislating a federal mandate for paid family leave, like the potential for lower pay or a reduction in other employee -- employer based benefits. the federal government, of course, premarket -- and the free market principles aren't applicable. it's therefore up to congress to decide whether to expand federal employees' paid leave policy. federal workers receive annual salaries around $90,000. benefits can be valued as much as $125,000. research shows that federal employees are paid more than comparable workers in the private sector. before settling on a proposal that would take tax dollars from union workers in ohio to pay for leave for already well paid attorneys at the epa or department of labor, the committee and the congress should do some serious fact finding. it's incumbent upon us to study the relevant information, is
10:32 am
paid family leave necessary? are a large number of workers depleting their paid vacation days? are there policies in place that substitute for paid family leave. it's a well-intentioned policy we need to thoughtfully consider the policies. i'm grateful for the witnesses for testifying before us today. i'm happy to see our colleague, ms. gloria with us today. we look forward to their testimony and a chance to ask questions. with that, madam chair, again, congratulations and i yield back. >> i would like to welcome our first witness, first we're honored to have with us the house sponsor, the lead sponsor of the family act, a bill that would create universal comprehensive paid family and medical leave for workers across the country. congresswoman rosa delaura has been a champion for family and workers for three decades.
10:33 am
she leads the fight to expand opportunities to middle class families, and insure our economy is working for everyone. congresswoman, you may now begin. >> thank you, very, very much for your kind words. while this morning we honor the memory of our colleague, elijah cummings, we offer our congratulations to you. i'm delighted to be here. i want to recognize and thank our ranking member, mr. jordan for welcoming me here today and all of the members of the committee. you know, as members of congress, i believe it's our duty to level the playing field for middle class families and for working people. especially now. why now? people's pay is a serious economic challenge that people have in their lives, that their pay does not keep up with the rising costs, skyrocketing costs
10:34 am
that they face every day. so it is sadp$kly no surprise t very few can afford to lose several weeks of wages, whether for an ill loved one or for the birth of a child. it would push them over the edge. in fact, 62% of working people cannot access unpaid leave under the family and medical leave act. according to researchers, either because they are ineligible or they cannot afford to. but those moments come regardless. in 1986 i was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. i went to my employer then, told him i was going to be hospitalized and that i didn't really know whether or not i would be returning. my employer was senator
10:35 am
christopher dodd. he introduced what became the family and medical leave that same year. what he said to me on that day when i went into his office was, rosa, go get yourself well. your job is here. your salary is here. just take care of yourself. with the support of my family and friends and by the grace of god and biomedical research, i recovered and have been cancer free for 30 years. two years ago, my mother at age 103, i'm happy to tell you she served on the city council in new haven for 35 years. she was dying. i got to spend every day and every night with her for six weeks.
10:36 am
no one told me as a member of congress that i would not receive a salary, no one told me that my job would not be waiting for me. that was such a blessing in both cases. a blessing that cannot just be for senate staffers or for members of congress. the united states needs a national paid leave policy to provide paid time off for working people who are welcoming a new child, caring are for a seriously ill or injured family member or recovering personally from a serious illness. for everyone. after three years of careful deliberation and coalition building, i introduced a family act with my partner in the senate, and we did that in 2013. it is the gold standard. we have reintroduced it in every congress since as we did earlier this year, with 700 groups and
10:37 am
virtually ever state endorsing it. the family act allows employees to receive up to 60 days or 12 weeks of partial income. 66% of their income for a health condition, injury or sickness to a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. the birth or adoption of a child. the injury of a family member in the military, or injuries arising from a service member's deployment. it creates an independence, a self-sustaining national insurance fund by having employees and employers pitch in together with payroll contributions of two cents for every $10 in wages. it is a equivalent to less than $2 per week for a typical worker. it would be managed under a new office of paid family medical leave within the social security administration. but it is separate and independent from social security
10:38 am
trust fund, so that it does not impact the solvency of social security. it has a record 201 co-sponsors in the house and 34 in the senate and it's bipartisan. as were similar proposals in the states. so far, nine states, including the district of columbia have passed paid leave programs. they go further in terms of leave duration, family members covers, wage replacement offers or employment protections. we can learn from these innovations. and we can learn from the businesses who support paid leave from the main street alliance to the american business council, close to 100 businesses or business leaders nationwide support the family act. it's no sprites thurprise a stu boston consulting group found that 250 companies offering paid family and medical leave
10:39 am
reported the ability to attract and maintain talent, hire leadership teams and increased profitability. considering the benefits of paid leave for families and from businesses, i am so glad to see that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support this in some form. but proposals need to be not -- not deal with harm because that would be unacceptable. many of the programs as currently written force trade offs between the workers' current self and their future self. they're being asked to dip into their social security funds or their child tax credit. and most only provide income for new parents. we applaud, we should provide support for new parents, the birth of a child is glorious. but income support for new parents is not enough.
10:40 am
75% of workers who take fmla, family and medical leave, currently do so to address the serious health condition of their own or of a loved one. so let us provide the paid leave that families and workers need and deserve, not only for senate staffers, for house staffers, but -- and not only for members of congress, but for everyone in this country to provide them with economic security. we need to alleviate the economic insecurity of middle class families of working people. we must not only celebrate them, we must elevate them and we can do that with the family act. thank you so much for allowing me to come before you, committee, this morning. >> thank you so much,
10:41 am
congresswoman for your testimony and for all of your efforts on this issue and everything you do for working families. thank you so much. while the second panel is coming forward and the clerks are switching out the nameplates, i'm introduce our second panel. we are privileged to have witnesses on our second panel that bring a rich diversity of perspectives on the issue of paid leave. jackie silvani is a teacher and navy veteran who son, joe, was treated for a rare form of cancer in 2015 at the age of three. she's from new hampshire and she will testify about her inability to access paid caregiving leave when her son was sick. secondly, we have a senior fellow for paid leave policy and strategy at the think tank north america. she's a leading expert on
10:42 am
national and state paid family leave policies and has researched extensively in this field. from 2009 to 2019, she led workplace policy initiatives at the national partnership for women and children. the honorable commissioner of labor and workforce in new jersey. he's responsible for administering new jersey's paid family leave program and will testify about how that program benefits workers and businesses in the state. the former -- founder of well paid madeids, a home cleaning service in washington, d.c. and boston that pays workers a living wage and offers them a full benefits package, including paid leave. he will share how being able to offer paid leave helps his
10:43 am
employees and givers hs his sma business a competitive advantage. rachel gresler from the heritage foundation. and jennifer tucker is a senior policy advisor for black women's round-table, which is part of the national coalition on black civic participation. she'll testify about how the lack of paid family medical leave impacts women and families of color. and if you would all please rise and raise your right hand, i'll begin swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony that you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. the microphones are sensitive,
10:44 am
so please speak directly into them. without objection your written statement will be made part of the record. with that, ms. silvani, you're recognized for your opening statement. >> good morning, chairwoman maloney, ranking member jordan and members of the committee. i live in new hampshire and i'm a proud member of moms rising. i'm also very proud to be a navy veteran, a mother of three, a wife, and a teacher of fourth grade students at epiing elementary school. hi, guys. i'm here today because i know first-hand why our country so ur urgently needs a paid leave policies that allows all workers to care for their families without risking their jobs or financial security. in june of 2015, i was driving home from work when i received the kind of phone call no parent ever wants to get. my 2-year-old son, joe, was playing at daycare when suddenly half his face was red and sweaty while the other half was completely dry.
10:45 am
his providers were perplexed. my husband and i rushed joe to the emergency room and the next morning after a three and a half hour mri, doctors told us that our tiny toddler had a clementine sized tumor in his chest. joe was diagnosed would stage iv neuro blastoma, a cancer of the nerve endings. he had bone lesions on his hips, spine, shoulder blade and femur. in a heartbeat our lives changed completely. i needed to save my child's life. joe's treatments started immediately and it became clear it would be long and difficult. joe needed six rounds of inpatient achievemechemotherapy cell transplants and six rounds of painful immuno therapy. he has lasting kidney damage due to his treatment and developed a complication called transplant
10:46 am
associated myopathy. he spent 210 days in the hospital. i was there with him nearly every day because most of all, he needed me. having paid leave for at least part of that time would have made such a difference. it would have helped to alleviate the enormous stress my husband and i faced. we could have staggered our leave and shared the responsibility of managing joe's care while still collecting the paychecks we desperately needed. we wouldn't have had to worry about our jobs at the same time we worried about our child's life. but we did. when joe was diagnosed, there was no question that i needed to take time away from work. but as a teacher, i had no paid leave. my son's diagnosis meant we immediately lost a third of our income. my husband works at an auto dealership and had no paid leave either. his income is based on commissions. so while i managed joe's care, my husband faced the enormous stress of working full time doing all he could to support joe and me and becoming a
10:47 am
primary caregiver of our two children. at the same time we lost my income we faced major new expenses. my salary was gone but we had to pay the corporate rate for our insurance during my year leave of absence at the rate of $1,700 a month. there are healthcare costs that our insurance didn't cover. constantly taking joe for treatment in boston meant paying a lot for gas and parking. hospitals don't provide caregiver meals. we needed before and afterschool care for joe's siblings, including care over summers and school vacations that was not anticipated. yet we still needed to pay our bills. losing my income in the midst of this nightmare meant my son's medical crisis was a financial crisis for our family. i will forever be grateful to the community that rallied around us. friends held fundraisers to help keep us afloat and pay our mortgage. because we had no paid leave, we were under extreme financial stress at the same time we faced
10:48 am
the extreme emotional stress that came with trying to see our toddler through this life threatening illness. now four and a half years after his diagnosis, i'm thrilled to say that joe is a healthy second grader and just about the happiest kid you'll meet. we often joke he's bound to be a politician because he's so talented at engaging people. perhaps one day he'll sit where you do today. if so, i know he'll prioritize policies like paid family medical leave because he knows first-hand what they mean for families. while joe has recovered, our family is still feeling the financial effects. my retirement accounts are gone. we're unable to contribute to my husband's accounts. we are still digging out as we support our three children. yet we are the lucky ones. the emotional effects continue as well. when your kids are in danger you don't think about your own mental health. we live in fair that joe will relapse because the rate of recurrence with kids with the kind of cancer has is around
10:49 am
50%. i don't know how we would survive it again. but i do know if we had paid leave, it would have been much more manageable. often when we think about paid leave, we think about new babies. i know some lawmakers have even offered proposals that only address leave for new parents. as a mom, i know how important parental leave is. but we needed family leave to care for joe and policies that don't address the full range of caregiving needs would not have helped my family. in fact, they would have left us behind. no one plans for their child to get cancer or parent to have a stroke or to need surgery yourself but those things happen to all families. that's why our country needs a comprehensive paid leave policy so urgently. ing working people should be able to be there for our families in times of joy and hardship. i hope you'll support the family act. thank you. >> good morning, chair maloney, ranking member jordan and members of the committee. and thank you, your story is
10:50 am
incredible. as a parent, i can't imagine what you have gone through. i also want to offer my congratulations to you, chairwoman, for your long-standing leadership on federal employees' paid leave and the significant march forward that the federal employees parental leave provision is. it will make the just 19% of within individual workplaces, access may be provoopr provided to the most highly paid workers and others. more than 3$300 thoushg300,000 income, unknowable health care
10:51 am
costs, safety net costs and opportunity costs. you must take action now. but what action looks like really matters. paid leave must be part of a suite of investments in families, wages, work and care. a comprehensive national paid medical and leave program must be equitable, inclusive and sustainable. it must provide people to take care of ourselves and help loved ones. right now the family act is the only proposal pending in congress that meets this test. it's exciting to see support both from the 200 plus c co-sponsors and from advocates and businesses. this week a new collaborative called paid leave for all and a new small business coalition are both launching which is a testament to momentum and demand. i want to make three observations about potential bipartisan progress and the
10:52 am
enactment of comprehensive paid leave. first, let's not forget the fmla, the unpaid leave law was enacted after a nine-year battle in congress. nine years. it took so long because opponents at the time claimed that the fmla would do substantial harm to businesses and the economy. fortunately they were wrong. many opponents at that time admit that now. businesses that feared new family paid leave laws found their concerns unfounded. support for a national law is growing. second, the eight states plus d.c. with paid leave programs show that progress is possible, most include features that substantially surpass the family act in terms of the uses of leave, wage replacement offered, family members covered, employment protections provided and most substantially and significant for this committee and for congress, laws with these enhanced features passed
10:53 am
with bipartisan support. to me, the state's bipartisan congress cautions against congress and national political observers to define down what a passable policy is. we should look to the states experiences to understand that a program like the family act should be within bipartisan reach. third, it's remarkable that 80% of voters support a plan like the family act. substantial majority of voters also prefer the family act to approaches that would cut people out or force tradeoffs. voters who support the family act are willing to contribute to a national paid leave fund and to contribute more than it would require. this is true across party lines. experience in states reinforces this polling. to my knowledge there's never been a backlash against payroll contributions from individual taxpayers or businesses in states with paid leave programs. so what's required in a national policy? to achieve favorable outcomes for women's labor force, child,
10:54 am
maternal and ill loved ones health, business benefits and taxpayer savings, a national program must meet certain criteria. it must include all fmla covered needs to include a policy that's flexible for all people, make leave available gender equally, provide adequate and timely wage replacement so lower wage workers can use the policy without hardship, ensure meaningful duration of leave, permit care giving for a range of family members, to recognize that family care comes in many forms. be affordably and sustainably funded to provide certainty for workers and employers, include employment protections so that leave is safe to lose and finally and most importantly, build in funding for worker and employer outreach and education to ensure effective impleme implementation and use. congress's search for commonground solutions is exciting and long overdue,
10:55 am
however bipartisan effort should not translate into watered-down legislation. approaches would exacerbate existing inequalities and fail to serve the interests of women, people of color, people with disabilities and low-wage workers. they would be ineffectived a providing desired individual and systemic outcomes. the costs of the status quo are great, but the benefits of the future that we can create together are much more substantial. a plan like the family act can work for the country. it's time for paid leave for all. >> thank you. >> members of the committee, thank you for welcoming me here today. greeting s from governor murphy and the great state of new jersey.
10:56 am
for seven years i served as regional representative at the u.s. department of labor working on this important issue where i often used new jersey as an important example as our lead on leave. i'm working on best practices in my own state to support workers and businesses, people who want to provide for their families and communities. that's what every person in this room should be thinking about, taking care of the people behind the jobs. new jersey is experiencing a strong economy. with more people at work in the garden state than ever before, and a 3.2 unemployment rate. but a strong economy does not mean we can rest on our laurels or assume economic benefits each everyone equally. this year we celebrated the ten-year anniversary of family leave insurance or fmli, and the 70th anniversary of temporary disability insurance. these programs support our workers by acknowledging care giving as a part of american
10:57 am
culture. we have a significant sandwich generation, a work force taking care of children and aging parents and relatives. in new jersey, these no doubt these programs work. for seven decades our tdi program has been jointly funded by employers and employees. providing a framework for our solely worker funded fli program that has been expanded at zero cost to employers. by offering this wage replacement, we're ensuring all of our workers have the income they need. those least likely to have benefits offered privately by their employers tend to be younger, female and have less access to education and savings than those who receive some pay while on leave. that's why programs like ours are so critical. as labor commissioner, i know when families thrive the economy thrives, which is why this year we passed a law expanding family leave. governor murphy reminded us when he signed the bill, no one should be forced to choose between caring for a family
10:58 am
member and earning a paycheck. research shows employers overwhelmingly care about the wellbeing of their staff. we now have 11,000 more businesses operating in our state than we did when flmi went into effect. in a competitive economy these programs relieve employers from providing additional job benefit without increasing costs. leveling a playing field for all businesses competing for talent large and small. paid family and medical leave programs save employers money by reducing turnover and training costs when they lose staff to a temporary situation. employee productivity actually increased between 3.5 and 6.5% once paid leave policies were implemented. additionally, an employer association of new jersey survey found that the average time it took employers to assist with their workers claim was only about an hour start to finish. that was before we made improvements to reduce paperwork. this is good policy and good government.
10:59 am
the murphy administration continues to learn from best practices and works with legislators to make inform changes. we recognize the structure of families today is more diverse than in the past. so our programs also must evolve. we expanded coverage to include children of any age, parents in law, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners, any individuals related by blood or with whom you have the equivalent of a family relationship. we have also expanded coverage to victims of domestic or sexual violence. these victims can claim benefits so they can access the care they need and focus on recovery and safety. these improvements are a good start but as of july 2020 even more are coming. we doubled the maximum benefit period so workers can claim up to 12 weeks for care giving or bonding. our fli program will allow
11:00 am
workers with more than one job the option to take leave from one employer while continuing to work for another. since many new jerseyans work more than one job, this aspect of the new law offers flexible that did not exist before. why do we make these changes? people in low-wage jobs can't afford to live on a replacement of two-thirds of their weekly wages, so they can't bond with a baby, care for an aging parent further restricting them to move up the pay and wage ladder. the true challenge is making our most vulnerable populations aware of the rights, protections and programs available to them and ensuring equity and access. that is why we formed the office of strategic outreach to let our communities know about paid family and medical leave as well as earned sick leave and other recent improvements to new jersey law. if you would like information beyond today's testimony, our website is where we
11:01 am
made it easier for everyone the rights and benefits available to them. i encourage you to visit and see how paid leave works in new jersey. we're making the economy stronger because it's becoming fairer. thank you for your time and attention to this critical issue. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for having me here today. i'm a member of the main street alliance and i'm the founder of well paid maids, a living wage home cleaning company that operates in the d.c. and boston areas. all of our employees earn $17 aan hour and receive a full benefits package on day one for us, including 22 paid days off per year, 100% employer paid commuting costs and 100% employer paid disability insurance. we only hire w2 employees, not independent contractors, which means all of our employees
11:02 am
receive unemployment insurance, workers compensation insurance and are eligible for overtime. by offering consumers an ethical alternative in an industry where anti-worker practices are rampant, we hope to help our workers by providing good paying jobs with decent benefits. we hope to bolster the case for policies like a minimum wage that's a living wage, paid sick days and the subject of today's hearing, paid family and medical leave. i'm eager to see paid family and medical leave enacted at the federal level. i can tell you the sky will not fall on employers if something like this is enacted, not just for federal worker bs but also r the private sector. i think paid leave is not only affordable for small businesses, but that it's extremely beneficial for them as well. i'm personally skeptical of any employer who claims that paying into a paid leave program will
11:03 am
threaten the viability of their business or force the layoff of employees. my company is participating in a ramp u ramp up period of massachusetts and d.c. programs. it's a 0.62 payroll tax on wages paid. for my business around $20 a month per employee. from my perspective, any employer that can't put up $20 to $30 per month dose haven't a viable business or business model. as somebody who provides short-term disability insurance to employees, i can tell you that the state and local programs, which we're currently participating in will offer comparable coverage but at nearly one-third of the cost. it's obvious why. by oning this tye in running th insurance program as a public good, costs can go down for folks who subscribe to that. in addition to that, the state
11:04 am
programs that we'll be participating in also include family leave. short-term disability insurance, that's just for personal medical issues. so in addition to being affordable, i believe that paid family and medical leave will be beneficial to dbusinesses in my own business i reaped a lot of gains from the benefits i mentioned earlier, short-term disabilities being one of them. in the cleaning industry, typical model is pay them low, work them to death. my business uses the opposite model. we offer the best compensation package, i know if you take care of your employees, they'll take care of you. the reason my employees are happy, hard working and dependable is because we have a benefits package that respects the reality of every-day life. people get sick, have babies, need vacation, et cetera. when you show employees you have
11:05 am
their back, they have yours, and multiple witnesses mentioned the litany of studies that indicates the benefits businesses experience by offering paid leave and other benefits. i'm proud to be a business owner coming here today to speak in support of paid family leave. i'm happy to articulate it. based on the structure of the state and local programs we're participating in, you know from my perspective it continue cost businesses that much and it will generate positive outcomes for everybody. ultimately the crucial argument for a national paid family and medical leave program is it's the right thing to do. too often we reduce everything to the logic of the market. sometimes that's fine. ultimately i think paid family and medical leave is more than an employment issue. how we decide to support each other when the worst happens is a test of national character and we need to come to terms with the fact that currency our policies pretend it's normal for people to fall into financial ruin when the worst happens or
11:06 am
for people to return to work two weeks or less after having a baby. whether or not we use policy to ensure people take time off to take care of newborn children or take care of a sick spouse is a moral choice and i hope congress makes the right choice by extending federal paid leave not just to federal employees but to all employees. i look forward to your questions. >> our next witness is miss gressler. >> thank you for inviting me here today. as a mother of six young children and with my own mother and grandmother diagnosed with cancer in recent years i understand the need to take leave. families are the foundation of society and i think it's important that they be able to care for one another. we also have to recognize that paid family leave has costst and consequences. a government program can't erase those costs, it can only redistribute them. voluntary employer provided policies work better because
11:07 am
they can balance workers and employers needs at minimal costs and consequences. providing more flexible and often more generous policies than a one size fits all government program could. yet a federal government program would crowd out these policies as they start to expand further. most notably, many low-wage workers gained access to employer provided policies over recent years. i think everyone here today agrees that it's these low-wage workers we want to help the most. so i wanted to share a story about a low-income refugee family that my own family came to know and love recently. this family welcomed their fourth child about a year ago. a sweet little baby boy. and as they left the hospital, what should have been a sweet homecoming to them they returned and their belongings were all outside on the sidewalk. they had been evicted. this father needed a job, he needed a home, they needed food for their children, and this
11:08 am
mother needed it a place to recover. paid family leave was the last thing on their minds. if the government program had been there, it would have been of no use to them. neither parent had been in a job long enough to qualify for leave, and a partial benefit would not have been enough to make ends meet. that's why i'm so concerned by the family act and other government proposals. the experience of government-be run paid family leave programs across the world is that they redistribute money from lower income earners to middle and upper income earners. in california five times as many workers in the highest income bracket file paid leave claims than those in the lowest bracket. canada's program is said to exacerbate class and equality. in the uk, too little support is directed to those families that need it most and too much to those who do not. in new jersey, the state's paid family leave policy puts many
11:09 am
workers below the poverty level and pushes people already struggling deeper into poverty. in attempts to reverse these aggressive traits failed. san francisco tried by enacting 100% benefit replacement but low-income mothers were half as likely to receive benefits. a recent economic analysis of california's program found that it reduced women's employment and earnings as well as their fertility rates. this is the opposite of what we should all want to achieve. instead, policymakers should see pro growth policies and other measures that can do more for low income families and all families. the strong economy and our 50-year record low unemployment rate produced large wage gains and those gains have been the strongest for lower income workers. those who make less than $25,000 a year gain about 1,5$1,500 additional in wages last year. low income black women gained
11:10 am
about $2,400. that's enough to finance three and five weeks of family leave, if those workers don't need the leave, it's their own money to spend and save as they please. the tax cuts and jobs act has added $1,400 to the typical family household. more companies are adding new and expanded paid leave benefits because of those tax cuts. policymakers can build on these gains by helping to generate leave options that meet workers and employers unique needs at a cost they can afford. the working family's flexibility act would give lower income hourly workers the choice to accumulate paid leave in exchange for overtime work. universal savings accounts are letting workers draw on tax savings would be helpful for independent, part-time and temporary workers. an increase private disability insurance is a way to meek workers own leave needs. considering the upward trend in efficient and flexible employer-provided paid leave programs as well as the highly
11:11 am
regressive nature of the existing government programs, pollitymakers should avoid en t enacting a new federal program and focus on giving workers more income and flexibility to choose what works best for them. thank you. >> thank you. our last as soon as is miss tucker. >> good morning. chairwoman maloney, ranking member jordan, and members of the committee, many of you support paid family leave because you care about valuing families. likewise many of you aare committed to promoting racial and gender equality. i'm here to connect the dots. paid leave is an essential way to build such equality. lack of leave drives down black
11:12 am
women's income and economic stability. their ability to keep their job and to advance get out of poverty and stay out of poverty and build wealth. our nation was built upon forced unpaid labor of enslaved black men and women. low-paid domestic work was the only job open to many black women after the civil war and well into the 1960s. when the fair labor standards legislation was passed guaranteeing minimum pay, pours and protections, an agreement with southern segregationists excluded domestic and agricultural workers. not surprisingly black women and other people of color today are less likely to have access to paid family and medical leave.
11:13 am
i sit before you this morning not only as a public policy professional, but also as a caregiver. twice having experienced life in the sandwich generation. my younger daughter was barely walking when my mother was diagnosed with parkinson's disease in her late '60s. i was her primary caregiver. then, too, my sister who lived with a chronic illness her entire adult life after a lupus diagnosis as a teen. she just celebrated her 48th birthday the day before she suffered a serious bleed on her spinal column. both of my care giving experiences were for chronic conditions that lasted many years. each had a common crisis period
11:14 am
associated with them that required all of my attention and that of several family members. we survived because we had financial resources, paid sick and vacation days and the support of family that many people don't have. it taught me that a catastrophe catastrophic accident or illness can happen to anyone. i know many black women who have little or no paid leave time. black women earn only 71 -- only 61 cents for every dollar earned by a white nonhispanic man. only 54% of black workers have
11:15 am
access under fmla. and many women who do can't afford to use it because 84% are primary or co-bread winners for their families. black women face a devastating maternal mortality rate. four times higher than that of white women. pregnancy related complications are closely tied to infant deaths. we need comprehensive paid family and medical leave to combat these and other disparities. how that leave structure is important. to be inclusive there must be coverage for all workers and all need cares, offer a meaningful
11:16 am
duration of time, reflect the diversity of families, guarantee job protection, provide adequate and progressive wage replacement, and be sustainably funned and cost effective. i thank you for your time and your commitment to ending racial and gender inequality. >> thank you so much. the chair now recognizes the distinguished congresswoman, norton. >> thank you very much, madam chair. i congratulate you on assuming the chair and on the achievement of your federal paid family leave act. no wonder this is your first hearing. i would like to direct my questions first to mr. saedian and congratulate him on giving a living wage to all his employees and what looks like a pretty
11:17 am
full package. you have been in business only three years, right? >> just over two years. >> but you do business in -- well, massachusetts has -- massachusetts and d.c.? >> yes. >> d.c. doesn't quite have it yet, right? >> no, so both are actually in the ramp-up period. >> both are in the ramp-up period. so you're competing with businesses that do not offer family leave of any kind, i take it. there are many such businesses in the district of columbia. >> correct. >> so my question goes to your bottom line. how are you able to grow? are you growing? and compete with others who don't offer anything like you offer. i need to find out more about yours so we can bring you into
11:18 am
our home. >> that's a great question. the business has been around for just over two years. as we look at closing off, you know this calendar year, basically we will have doubled in size from our first full year to our second full year. we'll do around $600,000 in revenue this year, which we think is pretty good of a business of our size and age. we have grown quite a bit. so we're at 14 employees. we're still hiring in the d.c. area and the boston area. i have somebody flying up to boston tonight to hire a few more cleaners in that market. in terms of how we compete, it's really through customers who are attracted to what we're doing. we're not just a1 cleaning services or four-star cleaning services, the people who use our company are excited about our wages and benefits. that's why they're willing to choose us versus a competitor. that's a great message to anyone who is thinking about the different possibilities in the
11:19 am
economy for a high road model, which is customers crave it. >> so if there's a state law, such as the upcoming law or the law in new jersey, does that make it more affordable to remain in business and to compete with others in business? you're doing this on your own. you're competing with others who don't have to do it. you say you're making a profit. >> absolutely. >> what difference would it make to have a state law? >> it will make us more profitable because the amount of money we pay right now for short-term disability insurance, which we use as basically kind of a stop-gap version of paid family and medical leave, the short-term disability insurance we buy is more costly than the public participation plan that we'll participate in d.c. by canceling our short-term disability policies and
11:20 am
participating in the public plans will make us money and make us more profitable. >> miss jabo, unpaid family leave, would you give us some indication of whether or not unpaid family leave, that law we passed some time ago has benefited anyone? do people take advantage of it when they don't get any pay? ad? the family medical and leave act has certainly benefited some people. the reality is for people who cannot afford to take leave that is the number one reason why people face a needed leave, is that they can't afford to take unpaid leave. so the folks who benefited from the fmla are higher wage employees who may have some pay or cobble together vacation or sick time. there are huge disparities and who has access to unpaid and to be able to afford to take unpaid leave. that's why paid leave is so
11:21 am
critical. for low-wage workers -- >> you heard miss ginsler argue since that -- all these policies, low-wage people don't take advant tam of theage of th. why is that? >> policies need to be designed to ensure low-wage workers take advantage of them. we learned a lot about the community outwapolicies that ar available. i want to quickly say, you know, i have looked closely at the working family's flexibility act, the savings account, the social security proposal floating out there, even the ctc proposal, there's no way a low-wage worker can benefit from any of those things. we have 40% of workers in this country who don't have $400 for an emergency expense. the idea that they could
11:22 am
contribute to a savings account is unthinkable. working families flexibility act forces people to work or takes peoples ability to work more than 40 hours in a week to take their comp time, time and a half and trade off time for that. they need those wages. they are low-wage workers. you know, i think in looking at the way the state programs are funded, they are affordable, they can be accessible. we need to design them with equity in mind. that goes to the wage replacement rates, the job protection that should go with them and the hours and education needed to make sure workers know about their rights, are able to assert those rights, and then the i.t. systems that provide for the timely processing of applications and payment. >> thank you very much. >> the chair recognizes congressman heiss. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to say congratulations to you in your first hearing. we certainly wish you the best as you lead this committee. so congratulations.
11:23 am
miss gressler, i would like to come to you. we hear about the support of the national paid family leave and medical. i get that. sounds wonderful. we all know at the end of the day there's nothing free. at some point this has an enormous cost associated with it. you brought that up in your opening statement. i would like to hit on some of that, if we can, whether we're talking higher taxes or increased debt. lower benefits, fewer promotions for women. there's a lot of costs associated with this. once those factors are put into play, sometimes we hear as much as 74% of americans favor this type of legislation, but when the costs associated with it are added, the popularity of this drastically begins to drop off.
11:24 am
could you elaborate on some of the details of some of these trade-offs? >> yeah, there's broad support for a paid family leave program if you just ask that question. but then if you get into the trade-offs. if you asked are you will i ing pay $450 a week, fewer than half of americans are able do that. and then when you get trade-offs with current programs, you have less support. so when workers are asked would you be willing to trade lower social security spending or education and other -- only 21% of people are willing to support a federal paid family leave program. it's important to know what will the costs be? we don't know. the state programs have been so underutilized. in new jersey only 1% of people who are eligible for the care giving benefit use it. only 12% of parents who are eligible for the benefit use it. it appears that costs can be small. in reality, if you have a
11:25 am
federal program and you have companies that start canceling their current policies and shifting costs on to the federal workers, the costs will expand over time. it will not be a cup of coffee a week. i don't see low-income workers buying cups of coffee, it will be a tank of gas instead of that. the american action forum estimated upwards of $1,500 for the average worker to have a paid family leave program. those low-income workers are not going to be able to use that program. it's better off to let them have that money and use it as they best see fit. >> i would think also it would impact the tax rate and states that implement this. are you aware of that? >> if you had a federal program? >> yes. >> they would have to choose whether or not to keep the existing program, which would be a nightmare for businesses to figure out which one they're going through, but, yes, when you have a federal program, the tax rate would start out relatively low and grow over time. i talked to some insurers in new
11:26 am
york, they go through a private insurance market. they said we're in the business now but we can't stay in the business unless they increase the tax rates. it won't be affordable to us. you also mentioned in your opening statement about the impact of the tax cuts and job act and how that -- the boom in the economy, record low unemployment. all this that is out there. i know i have several businesses, many businesses in my district and hundreds of them across the state of georgia that are voluntarily offering multiple benefits from higher wages to benefits with leave and all sorts of things because they're more profitable. can you talk about how the tax cut affected private industry and how that really, if it's your opinion, is more effective than a national stamp?
11:27 am
>> it provided huge resources that the employers can now use to meet employees demands. a lot of those employers surveyed them and said what would you like? they wanted more benefits, particularly paid family leave. that's why we've seen a huge growth in those policies. it's an employer's best interests to pay these policies. it's costly to replace a worker. they will stay there longer and be there happier. employers know better than policymakers what's in their best interests and the best way for them to offer those policies is to have the resources to do so in a flexible way. a one size fits all policy does not work for 28 million different businesses or 159 million different workers. you need a policy as was communicated. there was a policy that wasn't standard. it wasn't a formal policy, but it worked it was something her employer and different ones at the time were allowed to provide
11:28 am
her with. i would love to see more of that. not having the employer say go to the federal government, you're going to deal with the bureaucrats. they will tell you what you can get, rather let me work with you. i want to keep you on as an employee, i want to make this work. let's see what works best for you. >> thank you for your testimony. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes debbie wasserman shultz. >> thank you, madam chair. my congratulations to you as well. many years of service on this panel. very proud of you. >> thank you. i have had personal experience with giving birth to all three of my children, one of whom is a teenager, others are juniors in college. giving birth to all three of my children while working very full time. i gave birth to all three of my children while serving in the
11:29 am
state legislature and running for congress with my third child. about 12 years ago, some of you know i was diagnosed with breast cancer, suddenly at 41 years old. one day the picture of health, the next day a cancer patient facing my own mortality. because i had this job, because i'm in charge of the employment policies of my office, i was able to take the kind of leave like i was in the legislature because i didn't have anyone other than my constituents to answer to, i was able to structure my work life balance in order to make sure i could care for my newborn babies after they were born and make sure i could get myself well all while managing the demands of a demanding job. most people don't have the luxury that we have, all of my colleagues here have had.
11:30 am
research has shown women with incomes of $75,000 per year or higher take an average of 12 weeks maternity leave, while mothers in households of $33,000 a leave, take six weeks of leave. nearly one quarter of u.s. women are back to work within two weeks of giving birth. miss gressler, i find it troubling that you used the tired argument that one size fits all doesn't work for most employers. i want to start by asking you a few questions. i understand from your opening statement that you have six children. were you able to take maternity leave for each of your children? the biqd of each of your children? >> yes, i was fortunate to take leave for each. >> how much maternity leave were you able to take? >> i chose to take 12 weeks with each. i had different policies at different times. >> were you paid? i was paid at least part and often in full.
11:31 am
>> okay. was it important for you to spend that kind of time with the peace of mind knowing that your salary in large part was covered during that time? >> absolutely. >> and do you think other parents would value and benefit from that time as well? >> i do. i think they would value most from policies that are flexible and let them work with their employer to determine what's best. >> do you support a minimum wage? >> i think we should let the market determine what's the appropriate wage -- >> but do you support a minimum wage or do you think that we should not have a one-sized fits all policy and just let the market pay anyone anything they choose to? >> no, i think a federal minimum wage, particularly a $15 -- >> i'm not asking you about -- >> i don't believe in a one-size fits all policy. >> do you believe in a minimum wage? >> no. >> not at all?
11:32 am
you don't think we should require employers to not allow employees to fall through the holes without a minimum wage? >> i think we should let workers work at whatever wage they choose to negotiate with your employer. >> that's tells us all we need to know about your views. you said you don't think a one-sized fits all program works, but most people in america don't support a one-sized fits all wage because we know what kind of poverty people would be thrown into if that's what we allowed. what you have to offer is nothing at all for millions of americans, and some, often the more affluent, will be lucky like you were, you were, but 80 workers will not. i don't buy your argument it's too difficult to have a national standard that will work for all citizens. we must make sure that women, parents, have the benefit of -- the benefit that i had, that i could choose to have, regardless
11:33 am
of their income, regardless of their employer. we do need a floor through which we are not going to allow people to crash through when they have unexpected illness or give birth to children that every parent, regardless of income or employer deserves to be able to work for someone who is required to give them a minimum of paid family leave. thank you. i yield back the balance of my time. >> madam chair? >> for what purpose does the gentleman wish -- >> i have a unanimous request to submit four articles of -- four different companies that because of the tax cut bill are providing family leave. i have south wire to pay -- >> without objection. i've seen the articles. they can go into the record. >> thank you. >> i recognize mr. growthman. >> sure. i have a couple. i guess there was irs data done
11:34 am
to do a study of california's 2004 paid medical leave. you are familiar with the study? >> mm-hmm. >> can you elaborate on it and what we can expect to be the effect of women's careers with a more proscriptive family medical leave law? >> this study was able to obtain irs data, it's better reporting, you had more than twice the sample size of previous studies. what they found there comparing women, you know who had babies six months apart before and after when california's paid family leave policy was enacted, those who utilized the benefit afterwards compared to those who didn't, those women had 7% lower employment rates and 8% lower earnings. and oddly their fertility rates
11:35 am
were lower. they did find they were spending more time at home with their children as a result of that paid family leave law. >> you're showing me there are unintended consequences of this law that only came out with a comprehensive review of tax returns. >> correct. >> okay. right now federal government has a hodgepodge of 43 different paid leave days, correct? >> yes, federal workers have 13 days of sick leave that can roll over every year. you can use 30 days of advanced sick leave and they can access paid sick leave pool. >> can you explain how that compares to the private sector right now? >> on the average, the most the private sector what is ten. vacation days, similar, ten, two to three weeks, the federal government offers three to four weeks. >> okay. could you speculate -- maybe it's an unfair thing to do --
11:36 am
that california study intrigues me. can you speculate why you got those kind of -- i think the other members of the panel would consider them unexpected results? >> i think women taking more time off, staying home with children, some of them make the decision that they are going to spend more time at home. maybe they only went back in a part-time capacity or stayed out of the labor market entirely. you had higher income women using those benefits. we saw it's not readily available to lower income women. they don't know about it. a partial benefit doesn't let them pay the bills. there's more fear about diskr discrimination or their job not being there. it has to do with the rates and decisions that women choose to make. >> could you comment in general as far as the high income versus low income women who take advantage of these benefits? >> in california, i believe they had five times as many people in the highest income bracket compared to the lowest income bracket for women that were
11:37 am
using the program. i'm not sure across the board what the figures are, consistently everywhere that's what we find. that's what i'm most concerned about. i would like to reiterate, i agree, we should be looking at the impact on low-income individuals. that's who we all would like to help here, what i'm trying to point out these policies don't benefit the low-income individuals. they tax them and then they are not able to use them. so i would love to work with everybody in this room to see what policies would benefit those low income workers. >> i guess, you know, we get briefings on this and everything is focused on the women, the women, the women, which is good. could you give us -- >> that is true. >> any analysis from the man's side of the effect of this law? >> can begive him another five minutes? >> it is important. because i think people can look at this as just a parental leave and maternity leave issue. every four out of five leaves taken are not for that, but for
11:38 am
illness. government policies encourage more men to take paternity leave. but it's the upper income earners that will more likely to take it. >> any statistics you could get from the california study on how this impacts men? >> yes, i could share those with you after the hearing. >> okay. i as well have some articles i would like to submit to the committee. is that okay? thank you. >> we reviewed them. without objection. i now recognize congresswoman kell kelly. >> thank you, chairwoman maloney. i want to say congratulations to you. i look forward to you being the chair. get a lot of rest and relax zigs in between. we often think of paid leave as being important for new parents, but it's just as important for workers who need to care for a sick child, spouse, relative or for themselves.
11:39 am
let me start with you, when your son was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, you took unpaid leave of absence to care for him. how did his illness impact his family? >> how didn't his illness impact my family. he was very sick. my other two children didn't know what was going on with their brother. once joe was out of treatment, my children needed mental health support. i didn't have paid leave at that time either to help them deal with their brother's illness. to not have that time to be able to take care of our family as a whole was very hard for our family. >> so, the sickness of one impacts many people. >> of course. >> and hope flim sfully i'm sayr
11:40 am
name right. you started a small business with the goal of treating your employees better. you paid them a living wage, offered comprehensive benefits including paid medical leave. you also had a personal health crisis that motivated you to start a business with this goal. can you talk about how your concussion set you back and how difficult it was to address your own health needs? >> sure thing. a few years back when i worked in consulting, i sustained a concussion. i wasn't able to work. primarily because staring at a screen, reading words, all that stuff is prohibited when you're trying to recover from a head injury. i ended up taking more than a few months off of work. i was able to do so because of the kindness and benevolence of my employer and forward thinking and having a disabilities policy in place. likewise the same is try for my own employees at well paid maids, but this thing shouldn't rest on an employer forward
11:41 am
thinking about this or enlightened on this subject. >> thank you. miss tucker, you mentioned in your written testimony you served as a caregiver for your mother and sister while raising a family. what does access to paid family and medical leave mean to communities of color whose families are more likely to be intergenerational and whose families are more likely to take on care giving responsibilities as a result? >> that is so correct. our families are more likely to be intergenerational. and paid family leave would mean that families would have a cushion, an ability to take some time with that -- even with that reduced salary to do what they needed to do with their ill family member.
11:42 am
we know a quarter of young african-american millennials, between theages of 18 and 35 are caregivers. many of these caregivers are earning $30,000 annually. and i believe this is because they are in jobs that allow them to take care of the family member. this means their earning power over the lifetime is stunted starting at the starting gate. >> thank you. thank you for sharing your stories. many people across the united states can deal with -- can relate to them. dealing with a medical condition or health crisis is scary and stressful and it can already be financially crippling without losing your income. and i know when i entered congress, i represent the second congressional district of illinois, i had the highest rates of foreclosures in my area
11:43 am
because of health care issues. according to our recent study, 42% of new cancer patients lost their entire life savings within two years because of the cost of treatment. how does a lack of access to paid medical leave compound to how much is already -- this already costs workers when they and their family members are sick even when they have insurance? and also when my colleague was asking a question, you kind of made a face, i didn't know if you wanted the opportunity to respond to the answer. >> i'm not sure which question that was. i i have lots of facts and opinions. on the point about care giving, i think there was a fantastic new study released last week by the national alliance for care giving and caring across generations which showed that more than half -- i think three quarters of people who are caring for both a loved one and a child are gen-x, which is my generation, i'm dealing with this myself now, or are millennials. so as we're thinking about how
11:44 am
do we provide for the financial security and stability of these -- of this incredibly important cohort of folks that are going to be with us and our work force and in our communities for a long time, how do we make sure we're not piling on medical debt, lack of access to paid medical leave, student debt, high housing prices and wages that are not growing? how do we make sure the research tells us that when cancer patients in particular have a family member that's taking them to -- and involved in their treatment, when workers themselves are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, able to take treatment and then recover, they're more likely to get better, they're more likely to go back to work. this is the -- the cost savings around health care and the access to paid leave are related. i believe this is a feature of this whole conversation that doesn't get talked about very much. but certainly, you know, medical debt, health care costs, these are all -- could be alleviated with better access to paid leave
11:45 am
so care givers could get paid care. >> i yield back the time i don't have. >> the chair recognizes representative kilmer. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to congratulate you on your new position as chairperson of this committee. i think i'm confident that all of us in congress on both sides of the aisle are sympathetic to those families who have children and those families who are put in a terrible position of having to be caregiver for other family members. i also think that in congress those of us who represent extreme levels of poverty, who are also sympathetic to the working poor. i represent southern kentucky. my district is vast. i represent the eastern part of the state. it has appalachia, i represent the far western part of the state that has the mississippi river delta.
11:46 am
two of the poorest reej gions i america. we have countless stories of working poor, struggling to provide for their families. i'm very sympathetic to that. i want to help the people i represent that are doing everything right. there are two schools of thought to how we proceed to help these working families. the first school of thought has been elaborated by my colleagues on the left. more government solutions. government mandates. increased minimum wage. these are plans that have been in place for decades. and they really haven't worked. they haven't served those areas of extreme poverty in my congressional district. there's another school of thought that i feel like we have tried to employ over the last three years in washington. and that's more of a market-based solution.
11:47 am
where we focus on trying to grow the economy. and i believe if you look at where we are today, we have been very successful with the passage of the tax cuts and jobs act, with president trump and the last congress's efforts to focus on burdensome regulations to try to get the government out of the way, to grow the economy, to provide more opportunities for all americans. we have a situation now where we have maximum employment in this country. i don't think anyone would disagree whether you're the most liberal member of congress or the most conservative member of congress that the biggest complaint we hear from our employers today is they can't find workers. the economy -- the one thing that is holding the economy back today is the fact that businesses and employers are hesitant to invest additional capital because they're not confident they can find workers
11:48 am
to fill those positions. so we have a situation where we're having maximum employment which has led to wage inflation. so this is something that has happened through the market. not through more government laws, not through government mandates, wage inflation. and miss gressler, how do you feel that the tax cuts and jobs act has impacted employers and families? >> well, we've seen on the employers side they're able to raise wages and benefits and offer more jobs and i would like to highlight in the last month we heard that over the last year the group of marginally attached workers and those who are discouraged who i think would apply to a lot of those in your direct fell by 25% in one year. it's not just low-wage jobs, but ones that provide higher
11:49 am
opportunities. in my opinion, those workers are far better off being handed $1500 in wage gains in one year when they're earning a $25,000 salary than having that government take that same amount and tell them that they'll provide them with the benefits when they might not be benefits they want to have. >> i free. according to the society for human resource management, 20% of employers in 2019 offered family leave beyond what is required by fmla. this represents a 6% increase from the prior year. you think this trend will continue? >> exactly. we're on this upward trend. the strong economy, the tight job market means the employers have to compete and they see the value in it of offering those benefits because they can get the workers they need and retain them. this is not the time to stop that upward growth. >> i agree. i will conclude by saying this, when we have a situation like today where we have maximum employment and employers are competing for employees, the
11:50 am
businesses that take the best care of their employees are going to win the battle of the best employees. so i feel like we're on the right track in america. and i hope that we can continue the pro growth agenda that has led to unprecedented prosperity, but there's still lots of pockets of poverty in america. lots of families struggling. focus on. and i think the solutions is a market-based solution. madame chair, i yield back. >> the chair recognizes representative lawrence, one of the co-chairs of the women's caucus that has prioritized this issue. >> i want to thank you, madame chair. and congratulations. it's wonderful to be able to add a man to the -- i mean, a woman to this wall of men as the chair of this caucus, this committee. i also want to thank you for being a champion of this issue. as stated, i serve -- i have the honor to serve as bipartisan and
11:51 am
democratic women's co-chair for this congress. the issue of paid family leave is something i hear frequently about. ensuring women, family and parents have the ability to preserve their economic stability while continuing their employment in this country. one of the things that troubles me, ms. gresslar, is an oxymoron, pause you're saying because of this tax cut that many workers have not received, although is there has been a tremendous increase in pay to stock owners on boards, if they have more money, it should equate to embracing providing paid family leave. and you stated one of the challenges we have because poor and minority families struggle
11:52 am
the most with being in this sandwich position of taking care of a sick child and taking care of a sick parent. but what is something that is not being talked about, for women maternal mortality in the united states is one of the highest in the world. and one of the major contributing factors to that is the lack of child care because women do not have the flexibility to take off from work, to attend all the prenatal care. the reality, if i'm making $8 an hour, and how dare you say you don't support $15 an hour, because if you don't, you are stating that poverty in america should be a reality. how can we as a country, who consider ourselves so great, embrace a philosophy and
11:53 am
standard that empoverish americans. the other thing is when we as a country understand the only way that we increase the population in this world is through childbirth and that there is a need for a woman to be able to take time off. and god help her if she has a child who's sick. and so after the birth of the child, having to take care of that child, that could be a father, mother, same-sex couples, caring for that child, we as a sophisticated major force of democracy in this world should not be one much the last to say that every person working and trying to provide for the
11:54 am
family, regardless of their income, do not have access to paid family leave. i want to ask the question to ms. shabo. how many workers across the country have access to paid family and medical leave benefits? >> today 19% of workers have access to paid family leave. that's to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. >> how current is that? >> that is from march of this year. >> march of this year the big amazing, fix-all pay cut happened. >> yeah. >> did that have a major increase on providing this benefit to american workers? >> no. more to the fact of low wage workers, over the last five years we've seen access increase to 19% overall, so a 6% increase. among the lowest wage workers it's gone up by two points. among the highest wage workers it's gone up by 12 points. so, we're seeing the divergence in access to benefits actually increasing exponentially.
11:55 am
so, this idea that the tax cut or any other factors related to employment and the economy is going to lift those for the lowest wage workers isn't borne out by the data. i want to point out the data the congressman cited that 20% have access to benefits, that means 80% don't. i'm very concerned about the 80%. i'm extremely concerned about the low-wage workers. that's who we need to be focusing on. the idea that any of the half-measure solutions or solutions that are rooted in t austerity rather than a new investment just doesn't play out to the access and benefits we want them to have. >> i want to close -- >> the time -- the lady's time has expired. >> may i -- >> and the next witness is ms. miller. >> thank you, madame chairwoman, and thank you all for being here today.
11:56 am
ms. silvani, i want to compress my empathy to you. there's nothing more frightening than when a child is sick. the topic today is multifaceted and extremely personal. likely the issue of leave has impacted each of us. our spouse, our sons and daughters at some point in our lives. through the enactment of the tax cuts and job act, we have seen businesses not only increasing the pay of workers but also increasing benefits such as family leave. the president and his administration have worked to cut regulations to ensure a more prosperous economy. it is amazing that to see the positive advancements that happen when we free businesses from overtaxation and burdensome regulation. madame chair, i would ask unanimous consent to offer a study about california's paid family leave into the record. representative grothman mentioned it, and i think it's important that it should be
11:57 am
included. >> i won't object but i'll ask that we be able to see that. >> absolutely. >> it has not been given to us. i certainly have no objection. >> okay. >> without objection so ordered. >> thank you, ma'am. we have seen the unemployment decrease to 3.5%. we now see employers competing to find good workers. how has the strong economy under president trump -- >> not only have we seen more people have availability to jobs, and you can't have a good benefit package until you have a job, but we've seen a large increase in the number of expects that are offering paid family and medical leave benefits. more than 100 large employers have now come out offering these benefits. and these are not just the upper tiers, the consulting firms, these are the lows, the targets, the starbucks that typically employ lower wage workers who now have access to these paid
11:58 am
family benefits. >> you mentioned record low unemployment is providing opportunities to marginalized workers. can you expand on that? >> yes. this is why i want to it's rate that the strong economy is better than imposing an excessively high one size fits all minimum wage. the studies show when you have high minimum wages, you crowd out employers who are the least marginalized and those that have a harder time finding a job. the lower rung of the ladder gets cut off and those workers have no opportunity then. if you provide pro-growth policy that employers have more opportunities to create more jobs, they have more opportunities to draw workers into the labor force. that's exactly what we've seen. we've seen people who were disabled before, who were discouraged and gave up on finding a job and now there are hundreds of thousands of them that have jobs, that are supporting themselves and that have the benefit of seeing that paycheck they get as opposed to
11:59 am
relying on a government benefit. you know, that's kind of an intangible value to them, to be able to provide for themselves and have choices and flexibility over what they're doing with their money. >> thank you. you also discussed how wage growth is helping contributing to income trends contributing to inequality. can you elaborate how the current economy has done this? >> yes. i want to point to my written testimony there because i think there is, based on the recent jobs report, you know, i'm quoting from the council of economic advisers. that says from the start of the current expansion, average wage growth production for nonsupervisory workers lagged that of managers. the bottom 10% of wage earners lagged the top. and african-americans lagged that of white americans. since president trump took office, each of those trends have been reversed, contributing
12:00 pm
to lower income inequality. these are the types of pro-growth, free market policies that are bringing the bottom end up and those people who have been marginalized the most are benefiting the most from this. it's not the government coming in and telling them they will provide them with a benefit and take more of their money away so they don't have these choices. it's letting the economy grow and mutual exchange between employers boost everybody. >> i understand the private sector approach is better than a one size fits all approach. how can we encourage innovation and leadership in the private sector in terms of paid family and medical leave? >> there are lots of things we can do without a government program. the working family's flexibility act, all it does is lets private sector workers have access to the same thing workers have. if you have overtime hours, would you rather take time and a half of paid leave or take that
12:01 pm
time and a half of pay? it doesn't force anything upon anyone. if you're a parent, particularly a single parent, that time off is a lot more valuable in many cases than just having a higher paycheck. there are other things we can do to encourage among employers with ms. silvani's case, i was thinking of my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, he's a school teacher as well. in their case they had a paid sick pool leave. they had a daughter weighing a pound. they had to have extended time off. he was an hour away from where they were. he had access to that. i would love to see more employers, particularly larger ones say -- >> the gentle lady's time is expired. i ask unanimous consent to yield one minute to representative lawrence who wants to thank her constituent who's on the panel. >> i want to say that it is very important that we understand the
12:02 pm
role of government and to thank all of you for coming out and each role that you play. and adding light to this issue. i count on government for a number of things. and to say we don't need government to intervene on an issue that is going to be transformational for the quality of life for americans is something that i feel very strongly about. i have a dream as well for this great country. and i try to keep hope alive. but i know that i have to take action and do the work. and it is clear that only a comprehensive approach like the family act will protect our workers and i urge all of us to support it. thank you. >> thank you so much. and the chair now recognizes mrs. tlaib. >> thank you, chairwoman. i really do appreciate this hearing. this is very, very important issue for my district, the third poorest congressional district
12:03 pm
in the country. i really do appreciate your leadership on this and for this to be one of your first ever committee hearings on house oversight. i do want to just clarify something that some of the members on the other side of the aisle have been pointing to. a recent study on long-term effects of california's paid leave program found that first-time mothers who used the policy had lower employment and wages ten years later. ms. shabo, i would like to ask you about this specific study. especially because i look at studies polling everything and sometimes it doesn't match up with what's exactly happening on the ground. so, were there any limitations to the scope of this study that you could shed some light to so that we can have the facts before us and not make any misleading comments? >> yes, absolutely. so, this study is interesting. it's an outlier of many, many studies in california using different methodology have shown an increase in both labor force
12:04 pm
attachment and earnings over time. i think what's interesting and limiting about this study is that it studied the very first cohort of woman who took the leave, who had six weeks of leave available in the first quarter of 2004 specifically and followed the earnings of that cohort over a five-year period and then a ten-year period. there might be something unique or special about that first cohort of woman. there also might be different effects. when the california law first went into effect, the men's share of leave taking was less than 15%. so, of all the baby-bonding claims taken, men only took 15% of those. now we're above close to 40%. there are trends in gender equity that have changed. we don't know how that study would bear out if it was reaped -- >> in fact, there have been other studies conducted of california mothers that show that paid leave had a positive impact on the workforce, isn't that correct. >> yes, absolutely. and particularly substantial effect on latino women and
12:05 pm
low-wage women. it's not right to focus everything on this one particular study. the other thing this study shows is we need to think about how we make policies accessible for men, how we encourage men's leave-taking, how we pair child care, better access to quality affordable child care for parents. and how we think about part-time parity and the wages and opportunities for people who do choose to work less than full time. the study did not include self-employment income and the author's highs author's hypotheticals is they moved into gig work but we don't know the affect on their outcomes. >> i do appreciate that. one thing i know critically important is to try to bring people in this room that are not here physically and many residents in my district can't afford to come here or speak up because they're working right
12:06 pm
now. one community of caregivers who were often left out of the paid family leave comments. and i want to shed light to the unique experiences for many of those parents. i want to share a story of one of my residents. she's the mother of three. and one of her boys, isaiah, was born with liver disorder. after receiving a liver transplant, his mother started working as a server to provide for her family. she was very up front with her employer about having a child with special needs. one particular day after this employer refused to let her leave early to take care of her son, she was forced to prioritize help for her son and left her shift early, which resulted in her getting fired. as it stands, her son, isaiah, takes eight medications daily and goes to the hospital at least once a week to check his liver blood levels. if the u.s. had an exclusive paid leave policy not only would it keep my resident, this
12:07 pm
mother, to still have a job, but she would have been able to confidently work without the lively -- without her livelihood being threatened on a regular basis. ms. shabo, can you relay difficulties families with special needs children have. to me, this is a form of discrimination. yes, that mother may not be the one with disability but that fact -- the fact of the matter is, the discrimination towards her, which is due to the loved one and the fact she's a ca caretaker, i feel it needs to protect those caretakers. this is a form of discrimination. chairwoman, i was consistently asked as a young person applying for jobs if i was going to have children, which was made illegal, but i think people will push forward and say, you have a child with special needs, i can't hire you. if you could talk more about that, i would appreciate it.
12:08 pm
>> that's right. there are a couple of really good studies out there about the multiple impacts that affect parents and other caregivers to special needs children and other people with disabilities, the relationship between the income in those households, the expenses of those households and lack of access to leave. i think the other thing that strikes me as we think of policies that would exclude those families, you know, we talk -- we hear a lot about one size fits all policies but the ultimate one size fits all policy would be a policy that only applies to new parents and not to all of the people who need leave for their own serious health condition or to care for a family member. to say that that caregiving is less beneficial or less worthy of investment just strikes me as the ultimate discrimination, as you say. >> okay. thank you. >> thank you. congresswoman pressley is recognized. >> thank you, madame chair, for holding this critically important hearing and your leadership on blafl of working
12:09 pm
families across our country. and i want to thank ms. delauro. it is simply appalling that the united states continues to be one of only two industrialized nations in the world without any form of paid family leave. it is shameful and this reality continues to place undue burdens on families already struggling to make ends meet. household disproportionately led by women already struggling to get by while stages are stagnant and racial and gender pay gaps persist. at some point virtually every person, every working person, because hardship does not discriminate, will need to take time away from a job to fulfill caregiving responsibilities, to recover from a serious injury or disruptive life event. while i was a caregiver to my mother in the final throes of her leukemia battle, making decisions by the hour about how
12:10 pm
to extend her life while doing my best to center her dignity throughout that process, battling cancer while also battling bill collectors and along with the trauma of such a devastating life event. it was as if seeing my mother, sandy, facing her final days wasn't already hard enough. and so my experience is not unique. in fact, there are more than 34 million caregivers who provided unpaid care to a parent or relative in the last 12 months alone. so, ms. tucker, thank you so much for sharing your story earlier today. can you share what the day-to-day of your mother entailed? >> i can. thank you. yes. you know, it was -- it was tough. it was tough to try to make the
12:11 pm
arrangements we needed to make for her care, especially as she aged because this was over a ten-year period. it was tough finding doctors that was she was comfortable with. being part of the sandwich generation, with child, who would come with me every day to the nursing facility that she spent her year in because she had gotten to the point where she needed care. and i remember one time my daughter saying to me, do we have to come every day to see granny? well, that was pretty devastating. it was tough dealing with the
12:12 pm
financial aspect of this. my mother was a retired teacher, so she had some savings and she had a monthly income from her retirement and from her social security that made that -- that lightened that load. but there was nothing easy about it. >> all-consuming. >> and i was on my own to find the resources that we needed each time her -- she had a crisis and we needed to go to the next level of care. >> thank you. and it's my understanding that you also cared for your sister after she suffered a severe spinal cord injury as well. so, how did you manage serving as a caregiver for both your mom and your sister and how did this impact your financial situation? and are you still recovering? >> that's a lot of questions there. >> i'm sorry. >> a lot to unpack.
12:13 pm
well, lucky for me, these illnesses, these events, didn't occur at the same time. my sister's accident, or bleed, occurred five years after my mother's death, so we had time to kind of hang out before she became really ill with her spinal cord injury, which is what it was. and, again, when i think back on it, i don't know how i did it. i just found the resources that i needed to do it and i was in the place where i had the flexibility with work to do it. i had vacation time and i had sick leave. and i'm one of those people who's always at work. so, i had accumulated a lot of leave that allowed me to pinch off the three hours i needed to go to the hospital before before
12:14 pm
coming to work. and it -- it was a quilt, a patchwork of using leave and thinking it through in terms of support, i had a supportive family and a supportive spouse at the time that helped to make it easier. and i was in a two-income household that helped to make it easier. about it meant that i was up late looking at the numbers for trying to figure out how we were going to make it happen. and we almost used up all of our -- my mother's savings before she passed away. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. the chair recognizes mr. raskin. >> madame chair, thank you very much. and congratulations to you. >> thank you. >> on your first hearing. and i think this will be an important landmark for you the
12:15 pm
way that it was an important landmark for chairman cummings as he had the prescription drug as his first hearing of the new congress. mr. seyedian, i want to go back to the tax cuts. some colleagues have suggested the trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest corporations and people has provided paid leave benefits to workers. and i know there was a limited temporary tax credit for employers who provide two weeks of paid leave that was built into the legislation. but is there any evidence that this trillion dollar tax cut has actually made a structural difference in people's ability to get family and medical leave? >> not that i'm aware of. certainly not in my experience. i mean, i certainly as a small business owner don't feel the effects of that law, i would say. >> okay. is there anybody who has any structural evidence or data
12:16 pm
about this point whether this tax cut suddenly transformed things? because what i'm getting is rather the report that millions and millions of americans are still without family and medical leave and it's a crisis for people. ms. shabo? >> yes. anecdotally talking to business analysts, business owners, survey dated from ey which asked business owners whether they would take up this tax cut, there's no evidence that this tax cut has had any appreciable affect. my favorite anecdote, the only company i know that has said in the press expanded their family leave policy because of the tax cut is rolls-royce. >> let me stick with you for a second. i have three children who are the light of my life, along with my wife and the apple of our eye. and i consider it a profoundly meaningful thing to be into parent hood and i'm a co-sponsor
12:17 pm
of the legislation to create family and medical leave, but i do get questions from constituents. not just right-wing republicans. you know, there are people who are concerned about the environment and climate change who say, should we be as a society subsidizing the act of having children when we have concerns about population and concerns about climate change and the caring capacity of the earth. what is the argument you make about the importance for this, not just those of us who have children, but for people for whatever reason choose not to or don't have children? >> well, part of the reason that the inclusive and comprehensive nature of the f.a.m.i.l.y. act, which covers all of the fmla reasons is the right approach because some people will never have children but they have parents. everybody has parents. everybody is a child, if you are here. everybody has somebody they need to care for or may need to care for themselves. in terms of the value of paid leave to the care of children and well-being of children, we know access to paid leave
12:18 pm
affects brain development and child outcomes, it means children are more likely to be taken to the doctor to get immunizations. there's a study from california about reduced head trauma. there's a study about reduced adhd -- >> it benefits society generally when we take care of society? >> yes. people are going to have children anyway. we need meem to have children because we need a workforce of the future. but we need to invest in those families and children so we provide the best -- >> what are the specific benefits a new mother gets under the paid parental leave policy? >> a new mom under the f.a.m.i.l.y. act would have paid 12 weeks. and other adverse outcomes. the fact that 23% of women in this country go back to work within two weeks of giving birth, still bleeding in some
12:19 pm
cases, is just outranl yous. >> mr. grothman has the impression this is about women, women exwomen. what's in there for fathers? >> when fathers have paid leave, which is in there, in the f.a.m.i.l.y. act, and we know best practices to incentivize men to take leave. they're more likely to be engaged in their child's care over the long term. some evidence suggests that when men take access to leave, women's wages actually go up over the long term. so, this is about enforcing or creating new standards around gender equity in homes and businesses. it's also about the well-being of that child and the stress in the household. >> thank you. commissioner asaro-angelo, what impact does it have to families in your state to make these benefits available? >> it has a tremendous positive impact, congressman. i hear from folks every day. to be honest, from workers and businesses, what it means to them to the stability, whether caring for a newborn or caring
12:20 pm
for a family member. to hear the story and think about that going on every day in your family, to not have the support of your fellow workers, of your state, of your employer, to get through that could be devastating. as a time when we mentioned earlier about every employer is looking for more and more workers. we need to be there to help provide for them, the support workers need when facing a birth or family tragedy. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the distinguished ranking member, mr. jordan. >> thank you, madame chair. our colleague from maryland just was pointing out -- trying to point out that the tax cuts had no affect on the amazing economy. i'll give you some numbers. how about the 266,000 jobs that were added just last month alone. how about the 54,000 jobs in manufacturing to my colleague from maryland. how about the fact that unemployment is at 3.5%. it was a lot higher than that a few years -- a lot higher than tax cuts and regulatory changes were made. how about this fact, businesses
12:21 pm
expanding family leave benefits as a result of the tax cuts and jobs act of 2017, broad rich financial solutions, like success new york, charles schwab, chipotle mexican grill, cvs, dollar tree, dollar tree clintoned right here in virginia, lowe's, rolls-royce, sprouts farmers market, maryland. starbucks coffee. all because of the tax cut bill. mr. raskin may have a different opinion about that we have -- tjix companies, massachusetts. walmart, western alliance -- i could go on and on. there are all kinds of companies that have expanded -- not just growing our economy, not just the thousands and hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of jobs that have been added since then, not just the 3.5%
12:22 pm
unemployment actually extending benefits to their employees because we have a growing economy. mr. seyedian, did i get that right? close enough. you're giving me the smile. i appreciate that. is business good for you? >> yeah. business is good for us. it's just a question of whether you attribute the overaveraging macro economic conditions -- >> didn't you say you were sending someone to boston as we speak to hire more people? >> yes, we are. >> you just opened your business, i think you said, within the last two years you just started? >> that's correct. >> business is good. you have a handful of employees already and you're expanding? >> we have 14 employees, that's correct. >> and you would rather have >> it's not a question of higher taxes or lower taxes for us. the tax rate is not a fundamental variable in how successful our business is. >> so, you want to pay more? >> again, i don't think it's a or less. there are greater overarching things that impact the health of
12:23 pm
our business beyond whether we pay a little more or little less in taxes. >> and you decided to offer parental leave to your employees. >> yeah, we offer short-term disability to our employees now. as the d.c. and massachusetts programs come into effect, we will obviously participate -- >> you made that decision because that's just part of your business model. do you think that's good for your company, for the way you want to conduct business, that's part of your business practice and the business model you've adopted and it seems to be working. as you say, you're expanding and you've had two good years? >> yeah, that's correct. >> but you want government now to mandate to do what you decided to do voluntarily. >> it's a question of, of course, because we're a special type of company and there are large companies you mentioned, charles schwab and googles and facebooks, but is a slaughterhouse going to paid -- >> strouts formers market. sprouts farmers market. i don't know how -- it may be big. it's in maryland. i don't know. >> sure. i'm sure you can find all kinds
12:24 pm
of examples. to your point -- >> what's the name of your business? >> it's well-paid maids. >> well-paid maids. >> that's right. >> they do it. they're not charles schwab. you have 14 employees? >> yes, that's right. >> and you did it? >> yeah. >> no one told you. >> that's true. >> but now you want -- you made a business decision, your business model is you're going to offer this benefit because you're going to attract the kind of employees you liked. you said in your opening statement, your customers like that. they like a-plus maid -- what was it called again? what was the name of your business? >> sorry? >> what's the name of your business? >> well-paid maids. >> they like well-paid maids and they like that concept so they're willing to pay more for the quality of service you offer your customers. you made all that decision on your own as part of a business model. now you're saying, i want my company to mandate and i want the competition. >> i think it was 20% of businesses extending this benefit. and i think the overaveraging framework around having a stronger economy means more employers will offer this.
12:25 pm
perhaps that true but the economy goes up and down. everyone knows that. as someone who's personally benefitted from, for example, being able to take paid medical leave, i don't think this is something that needs to rise and fall or be offered or not offered according to the -- >> i'm not saying that. i'm just saying the -- my colleague was saying that the jobs and tax cuts had nothing to do with the amazing economy we've been experiencing. i would beg to differ, as would all kinds of companies, large and small, including yours, it seems, that have benefit under this great economy. and it seems to me, i'm all for paid leave, but i think people should be able to make that decision on what's best for their business model and what's best for their employees just like you did when you started your company two years ago and are experiencing this amazing growth in the trump economy. with that i yield back. >> the chair recognizeses my colleague from the great state of california, jackie speier, one of those on the women's
12:26 pm
caucus. i congratulate you. >> thank you, madame chair. i look forward to serving under you on this committee and also for the success on getting paid family leave for federal employees, which should jump the numbers up a little bit. i must say, i'm a little astonished by this debate today because the republican party prides itself in being the party of the family. and when we have 81% of the families in this country not eligible for paid family leave, i would think you would be running to support this bill. but it appears that it's not really about the family. it's really about making sure that big business has the lowest tax rates possible. so, let me talk about california, since it's been the whipping child here for the last few hours. california passed the paid
12:27 pm
family leave in 2004. 99% of employers report that the state's program has a positive or neutral affects on employee morale and 87% that the state's program has not resulted in any increased costs. not only have wage costs not increased, but turnover rates have decreased. in california implementing paid family leave was even linked to an 11% decrease in elderly nursing home use. as it was pointed out by my distinguished colleague from michigan, the study that's been referred to by ms. gresslar was a very narrow study. it looked at the first year of operation of this law, 2004. it was only for moms having their first children.
12:28 pm
and it was before the law in california was- enhanced to provide higher wage replacement. the study also explained many of these mothers may not have returned to full-time employment out of choice. amazing. that we have free choice to be able to make decision whether we want to stay home with our children or not in some cases. it also showed that the women may have worked fewer hours or wanted more flexibility or become self-employed. so, that's the california experiment that's actually worked extremely well. there's an effort now in our state by our governor, who wants to extend it to six months of paid family leave. we know in europe it's one year of paid family leave. if you're in germany, my goodness, you can go and have a week at a spa to deal with
12:29 pm
postpartum blues if necessary. so, we are so far behind the eight ball that it's embarrassing. and to have this discussion about imposing some burden on a business when the family act is only going to cost about $2 per week for the typical worker says it all. so, to you, ms. shabo, can you -- >> yeah. california's program has by several studies increased workforce participation and earnings. it has reduced child head trauma. it's had a reduction in medicaid nursing home use, as you said. it's been tremendously positive and we have learned a lot about what it takes to implement a program effectively and make sure that the people who most need to use -- be able to use the program are able to use it. and those efforts are ongoing. so, medical/legal partnerships are being developed. the state is trying to do a better job of outreach and
12:30 pm
engagement to people in other parts of the states other than big cities. there's a lot of work that needs to be done. on the cost element, california's contribution is 1%. there's never been backlash on that. there's always been a surplus in that fund. what we see in national polg data is workers are willing to pay far more than that 1% and certainly far more than the 0.4 of 1%. the cost elements at the outer bounds -- a good estimate around what usage looks like shows costs is not prohibitive and people are willing to pay the costs. some cost estimates out there are based on completely -- completely out of bounds estimates on leave taking. the action form they referenced suggests there would be 16 million parental leaves per year. we only have 3.8 million babies
12:31 pm
born in this country every year. so, we can't rely on those cost estimates. there are good estimates from institutes of policy research that are much more accurate. that's a cost calculator on the american enterprise site that was developed by a team of researchers that shows cost in no way taking the most generous efforts would be more than 1% and more like the 0.4 of 1% that's currently in the bill. >> i thank you and i yield back. >> thank you. and the chair recognizes mr. -- representative kelter from pennsylvania. >> thank you, madame chair. i just want to thank the panel of witnesses for being here today. this is an important topic. i'm glad the committee decided to take this up. as a person who's had firsthand experience with a sick child many years ago, you know, this is something that's near and dear to me. also a former manager of a large wood products manufacturing company, i have experience in
12:32 pm
operating a business and having a large number of employees work at that business. and it's clear that successful businesses and operations require investing in their employees. whether it's as we did, paid time off. i think we're similar to the maid business here where we had disability policies for employees for short-term disability. there are many options available. in addition to the just time off, there was also educational opportunities and is so on for dependents of the employees. just one thing i'd like to talk about is now that the tax cut and job act is the law of the land, employers are providing more benefits and more flexible schedules for their employees. under president trump unemployment has fallen to 3.5%. according to the society for human resource managers, 20% of
12:33 pm
employ -- a 6% increase from 2018. when employers are given the opportunity to provide benefits and have the ability to do it, it shows that that is happening. ms. gresslar, do you think this trend would continue? >> i think that if we continue to have this strong economy and the strong labor market we can expect this to continue because it is in an employer's best interest to offer these policies. >> again, how are companies responding to the increased desire for family paid leave -- paid family leave, excuse me. >> the larger companies are responding, as we listen to that list, they're offering formal policies. we're not hearing as much about is the small imprrz who make up the lion's share of employment in the u.s. whereas they might want be offering formal paid family leave policies in the data, they're offering more flexible options. that's actually how most
12:34 pm
employees who take paid family medical leave is through other types of leave that allow them to receive pay. >> in your testimony you mentioned one size fits all programs are either too exclusive or too inclusive. can you expand upon that? >> yes. it's just hard, as we've seen today, there are so many different needs for benefits. some of those needs are an entire year or more and a federal policy that provides 66% of your wages for 12 weeks maximum, it might make a small dent but it's not going to meet those needs. it's not going to meet long-term needs. it's not going to provide that benefit immediately if you have to rush away from work for an emergency. the best way to get at those is a flexible policy. if you become too inclusive, the costs are tremendous. there was talk about costs already, the f.a.m.i.l.y. act cannot finance the current
12:35 pm
amount of leave taken today. it could finance about one in five. so, either you have to have rationing of a policy like that or you have to scale it back even more so that it's such a bare bones program that it particularly would not be able to benefit low income workers and very few people would use it. >> thank you. i appreciate that. again, i appreciate the participation of all the panelists today. thank you, madame chair. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes congresswoman ocasio-cortez. >> thank you, madame chair. once again, congratulations on this phenomenal hearing on such an important topic. you know, i have to disclose that i have a stake in this fight. when i first was a -- when i was first starting my office here, i decided to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave. and in my first 11 or 12 months in office, there have been six pregnancies in my congressional
12:36 pm
off. and six -- and six folks have taken pregnancy or medical leave. five of them men. in my office. new fathers or folks that are taking medical leave, taking care of their families. and this has been a very important dynamic. many of the men in our office have testified how after the birth of their children or in supporting their partners, how critical it has been to be there for the -- in each of these cases, the women in their lives. i would like to submit to the congressional record two testimonies from my staffers, marcus bettenger and arial. out of these telephones, two important statements took out, from my staffer marcus, he said, as i write this today, i am currently home with my oldest son while my partner visits family in ohio with our youngest
12:37 pm
son. this might seem an inconsequential detail, but if i was not able to take this time off from work and be fully paid, my partner would not have been able to travel. from my chief of staff, when asked about, does giving dads less paid parental leaves than mom contribute to the pay gap, when asked about that, she said, my thought is this. there is this often explicit but sometimes tacet assumption that child-rearing is the job of the mother. but child-rearing is the job of the humans that have collectively decided to have that child. when you have an institutional setup -- when you have institutional setups that say, actually, dads don't need as much time because it's not their job to child rear, it's problematic. it creates expectations for employers who presuppose if i hire a woman in a certain age range, she might leave, but if i hire a man in that same age range, he would not.
12:38 pm
ms. shabo, can you illuminate on paid family leave for men and on folks -- the positive impacts that could have on people who give birth. >> absolutely. and the sentiments your staffers have articulated actually came up really poignantly on a panel i moderated at new america on our release of men in care report, men in paid leave specifically. there were three dads who talked about the cultural expectations that dads wouldn't take leave. they were able to negotiate, to cobble together. one of them had a wife who had a horrible labor and a baby that was in the nicu and he was back to work within a week. unknowing -- we talked about how even in the childbirth classes and lamaze and all the things he did, there was never a discussion from the hospital system or his employer or from any of the other men in his life about the importance of men taking leave. so, policy is a precondition. we have to design policies that have wage replacement that's high enough that men can afford
12:39 pm
to take leave. we also need a culture and a discussion. men standing up to say, leave-taking is important to me and here's the way it allowed me not just to bond with my child but support my partner. >> thank you. ms. grezlar, you said you don't believe in a minimum wage, is that correct, you believe the market should decide? >> i don't think we should take a job opportunity away from somebody if they're willing to work at a particular wage -- >> you don't believe in a minimum wage. i take it you don't believe in health care as a right either, is that correct? >> i believe we should help provide access to health care. >> do you believe employers should offer health care to every employee they have? >> i think that as part of a benefits package, they should determine what is the best way and what do the workers want? >> no, you don't believe it should be uniformly offered. >> i think it should be what workers want and what employers -- >> the answer is no. similarly, your view on parental leave is to let the market decide. i think what we've seen here is
12:40 pm
the market has decided. ms. shabo, 80% of families don't have access and workers don't have access to paid worker leave, correct? >> paid family leave. to care for a child or family member -- >> so the markets decide. what is the most common length of parental or paid family leave you have seen? >> in general, it's like six to eight weeks, but it really depends. there's not a great sample that tells us. >> six weeks. do we know how long puppies are allowed to stay with their mothers after a dog has given birth? >> i don't. >> eight weeks. so, the market has decided that women and people who give birth deserve less time with their children than a dog. and i think that that at its core has shown that the market has failed to treat people with dignity and with basic respect. and so when that happens, i
12:41 pm
think it's our job as the public to redefine the rules of society and to treat people who give birth with the dignity that they deserve. thank you very much. >> congressman gomez. >> madame chair, thank you so much for doing this important issue. this is an issue for me that's personal. most issues are but when i was growing up my parents worked four, five, six jobs a week to make ends meet. i got sick and i ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. to make sure a parent was there every day that i was in the hospital, they missed shifts at work and also the increase in hospitals that put a strain on our family. we almost bankrupted our family. and we almost lost our house. so, this is an issue i cared about when i entered into the california state legislature. and i started trying to figure
12:42 pm
out how to tackle this issue. i learned about paid family leave and i -- and i -- they did a study in 2014, ten years after paid family leave was implemented and they had learned a lot of lessons. it wasn't a perfect law but it was actually a revolutionary law. it started off -- nobody else had done it. but there was three things that were lacking. one was wage replacement needed to be high enough so people can actually take time off and take it. there has to be better job protection, especially for people that are working at places with less than 50 employees. and the last one was awareness. i actually introduced ab-908 that redefined and restructured the wage replacement in california so the lower workers -- income workers get a higher wage replacement than the higher income workers. we're still seeing how that's going to play out. but we recognize that we need to make this stronger and better.
12:43 pm
we've seen great statistics. 40% of men now taking time off. it's no longer a question, why is a man taking time off to bond with a newborn child but more as an expectation. that's a good thing. you know, ask any woman if it's a good thing that a man will spend time with their own child to bond. they would say yes. companies recognize that. you know, more and more companies are pushing and pushing and pushing, for paid family leave. not just because -- and it is the market. they know hord to compete for the workersers they need, they need to offer this benefit. so, the market is responding but that's because we had the courage enough to pass a law that most people said would drive business out of california when california is now the economic engine and always has been of the country. so, paid family leave is a step forward but we're making it even better. i want to focus on new jersey because i know new jersey did a
12:44 pm
program. just wanted to see what you guys are seeing in new jersey when it comes to paid family leave over a decade, how many workers have been able to access paid family leave and what have been the benefit -- what have the benefits been to the working families in your state? >> thank you for the question, congressman. we have 1.6 million workers covered in new jersey. unlike some other proposals in other states, this is for every worker in new jersey, irregardless of the size of the business. we're making sure every employer can take care of it, not just on the birth of a child or adoption, but on the caregiving size side. we can now have a higher wage replacement, up to 85% starting in july 1 shortstop of next year, up from the current 66%. while the program started in 2009, we've been trying to learn from it as we go along, and i think this past year's changes and improvements that were passed in february are go to go a long way in addressing some of
12:45 pm
the problems folks on the panel have had with implementation of paid family/medical leave because i think it will do a lot to reduce inequality and usage of the system. >> there's a lot of questions about, like, impact on business. has new jersey's program negatively impacted businesses and the business climate? >> absolutely not. when i hear from businesses about our program, frankly, it's calling to process a claim quicker. we had an increase in businesses. small business has grown 6% in new jersey. like the person to my left talks about, it levels the playing field. when businesses want to offer benefits to their workers, to participate in our program, that's one cost they don't have to worry about because they know their workers will have the protection and the benefit when they go out for the birth of a child or caring. >> this panel is interesting because it's starting to dig
12:46 pm
into they ishz. issues. but paid family medical leave programs in any legislation is not perfect. you have to look and see how it's implemented. implementation is always key and then make adjustments as you learn more. but i think that california and new jersey, connecticut, rhode island, like, the states that are implementing it is starting a trend that i think will reach congress and we actually will be able to implement a national paid family medical leave programs for states that are able to do so. >> we're in constant contact with our fellow states about these programs about what is working, what isn't and small leaps we can make together to improve all of our systems. >> thank you very much. i want to thank the panelist. madame chair, congratulations on your first day. >> thank you so much. and i want to thank all the panelists and particularly note mrs. silvani, your testimony was very moving to me as a mother of two children, to think of that type of crisis is traumatic.
12:47 pm
and i'm happy to hear that your son, joe, is doing better. and i hear stories like yours all the time. people write me. some of the most effective advocates who come to my office are people like you who have had a crisis and turned that energy into working for change. you wrote that your medical crisis quickly became a financial crisis for your family. how did that added financial stress impact your family? >> it just added more stress to an already stressful situation. my husband was unable to spend time with his son while he was in the hospital because he had to work. so, the crisis of a child being sick or someone close in your family being sick is both financial and emotional. >> and you wrote in your testimony that your family's still feeling these financial
12:48 pm
impacts. i understand you lost your retirement funds. do you think your family will ever recover financially from this stress and financial crisis? >> we lost years of investment for our retirement, so i do know that, you know, i'm 38 years old. my husband's 43 years old. we lost five years or so worth of investments that we were -- we would have been able to have as we get older. i don't have any more funds to pull from in case joe gets sick again, which is quite a possibility. so, we don't have the -- the space in our finances to be able to keep saving and to be prepared for that event that may happen with joe. >> and you've also wrote about the generosity of your neighbors that came together and helped you in so many ways. but a national paid leave program means that families like yours would not have to really
12:49 pm
hope that your neighbors would be as generous and wonderful as yours were. and a national program means the families will be able to maintain their financial stability in the event of a crisis, because workers and employers will both contribute to a comprehensive nationwide program. so, ms. shabo, i'd like to end by asking, you do think americans would be willing to pitch in for a program like this? they've been generous on their own, but do you think they'd want to create a national program that would provide the support for families? >> yes. >> we say that's our number one priority as a nation, but if you look at the policies in place, there's not enough support for families. in fact, very little. >> yes. >> and, in fact, our own country, along with papa new guinea are among two countries in a united nations survey, only two countries in the world did not provide for paid leave for
12:50 pm
the birth of a child. >> yes. >> and i am thrilled to say that today adam smith announced at our caucus meeting that he had negotiated and gotten that provision in the national defense authorization act. so that 2.1 million families will now have that benefit and support, and we know that from rosa delauro's testimony and others that we'll be pushing very hard to expand that to the private sector and to others to provide more support for our families. i can't tell you how thrilled i am that we passed that. i could tell you my own stories all day and i think many women and men have the same stories. hopefully this will be a new day in america. we can continue providing more support for families.
12:51 pm
testify and move forward but before i conclude this hearing, i would like to have unanimous consent for the statement submitted to the hearing by the majority leader congressman steny hoyer from maryland. congressman hoyer has been a champion for all workers, and i appreciate his tireless efforts on the ndaa to reach the possible deal for the federal employees. he has been with me in so many meetings and press conferences in support of the goal. i would also like to enter into the record almost two dozen organizations that the committee has released in recent days that there is a need nor a national comprehensive medical and family leave program. among several diverse communities and including the submissions from the national partnership for women and families, 1,000 days, and the main street alliance and the small business majority, and
12:52 pm
human rights campaign, and the narow community and more, and so i ask that these be entered into the official record of the committee. so ordered. i would like to thank the witnesses once again for testifying and without objection all members have five legislative days in which to submit additional written questions for chair which is going to be forwarded to the witnesses for their response. i ask our witnesses to please respond as promptly as able. this hearing is adjourned. thank you.
12:53 pm
12:54 pm
12:55 pm
12:56 pm
12:57 pm
12:58 pm
today the house foreign affairs subcommittee on the northeast and africa and middle east and international terrorism holds a hearing. watch the live coverage at 2:00 p.m. on c-span3. today, president trump travels to pennsylvania to speak at a keep america great campaign rally in hershey. we'll have live coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. theçó c-span campaign 2020 team is traveling ak cross the country to ask voters what issues should presidential candidates address. >> i invite you for this election campaign, the focus is
12:59 pm
the national debt and it is not talked about enough. i know that mark sanford got into the race just to bring that issue to the forefront, but i believe it should be addressed and we are in debt over $20 trillion, and it affects the foreign policy and what we are able to do as a nation, because our debt does affect our future. >> i am looking at the analytical approach, and currently i'm pleased with president trump's choices and actions in that area, but i don't want to fall in blindly. so i hope that the politicians would all approach it more analytically. >> in 2020, i think that what the candidates should address ism sof of the crises going on right now in the united states namely climate change, and crises of gun violence, and i think that right now the united states and overall community are at a crossroads between a
1:00 pm
potential disaster and a result that could work out for everyone in the end. i want candidates that will push forward with the results to make everything seem better for everyone and not just a few. >> voices from the road on c-span c-span. >> house speaker nancy pelosi and jared kushner, senior adviser to president trump both spoke at the "wall street journal's" annual counsel meeting and talked about the impeachment inquiry against president trump, and the mexico canada trade agreement. we will look at this one-on-one followed by mr. kushner. >> thank you. i defer. you go. >> madam speaker, thank you very much for being here. >> my pleasure. >> i have to say to the room that you literally rush in. >> yes. >> and rushed in


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on