Voto Latino spotlights paid leave debate with screening

Anne Walkup, Staff writer

“This is a serious issue right now. Because we’re young, we don’t think about it but we’re going to grow up and potentially have families or other loved ones to take care of,” junior Dalia Andrede said.

Andrede was referring to the issue of paid family leave in the U.S.—or lack thereof. She and other members of Linfield’s Voto Latino organization hosted a screening of “Zero Weeks” in the Riley Campus Center Thursday evening.

The title “Zero Weeks” referred to how zero weeks of paid family leave are required in most states in the U.S.

This was fitting for the documentary, which focused on the lives of various American people facing the decision either to care for themselves or family members who desperately needed it, or to continue attending work for fear of losing their jobs.

The film illustrated a variety of situations in which people were unable to take time off of work, due to the absence of paid leave: a new mother, a woman fighting cancer, a woman trying to care for her elderly mother, and a high schooler forced to drop out of school to work in place of her sick mother.

A brief discussion session took place after the film ended, during which students shared their thoughts on the issue.

“I guess being young, I didn’t ever think about paid leave before, so this was really eye opening,” sophomore April Alvarez, said.

Students also reflected on how the absence of paid leave had affected their own families’ lives.

“I think back to when I was younger when we were sick, how my parents didn’t get to take time off to take care of us,” sophomore Raul Sanchez said.

The U.S trails behind many other countries in terms of paid family leave policies. In fact, it is the only developed country in the world that does not require employers to offer paid leave to their employees.

According to the Washington Post, new parents in Finland are given anywhere from 158 days to three years of paid parental leave, while those in the U.S are offered none under federal law.

However, several states—California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.—have recently begun to implement paid leave policies.

In July of 2017, Washington became the latest state to enact paid leave policies.

Oregon could follow their lead and implement a paid family leave policy of its own.

Voto Latino members hope to spread awareness of the issue by encouraging students to write to representatives. Voto Latino also hopes to host a PLACE event regarding U.S. paid leave policies.