Blog: Speaking Up for Family and Medical Leave

 

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By Allan Reetz, Director of Public Relations at Hanover Co-op Food Stores

In my role as director of public relations at the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, I’m involved in a wide range of community issues. My daily to-do list is centered on using the strength and size of our business to achieve positive results for the greater community good. From food security to local agriculture, public transportation to affordable workforce housing, the tasks are varied and ever-changing.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what does any of that have to do with the Hanover Co-op? Well, weakness in any of those areas erodes the community and economy we all depend on. Problem-solving leads to strength and future success across our region.

High on our cooperative’s list of community concerns is the lack of options for paid family and medical leave at small businesses in New Hampshire and Vermont. Time off for medical reasons is available at our co-op via the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Short Term Disability and the extended illness bank, yet so many small businesses lack an affordable way to help their employees in times of need. Throughout 2018, I added the Hanover Co-op’s voice to the thousands of people stepping up to fix this.

The good news is, in 2018 the legislatures in Vermont and New Hampshire each passed bills that would help ease this burden by creating a state-level Family and Medical Leave program. The unfortunate news is, a veto in Vermont and the threat of a veto in New Hampshire doomed each bill.

We have all been touched by a serious illness striking oneself or a family member. Of course, many of us have enjoyed the birth of a child. Yet, even that brings with it the challenges of transitioning to parenthood. Now imagine your newborn child has complications. (Maybe that has actually happened to you). Perhaps you have an aging parent whose health is failing. Cancer seems to touch us all in one way or another. In each of those scenarios, being able to take time off without risking your job or income to care for family and self is vital.

Could you choose between family and income?

Right now, thousands of workers in New Hampshire and Vermont lack any access to paid Family and Medical Leave. This is why we take action.

Throughout this New Year, the Hanover Co-op will continue its work with New Hampshire’s Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy and Vermont’s Main Street Alliance to advocate for strong, universal paid family and medical leave bills in New Hampshire and Vermont.

We have the ability and the responsibility to speak up.

Adapted by the author for the NHBSR audience from its original publication on Co-op News

NHBSR's 2019 Spring Conference