Today's News & Commentary — August 12, 2015

Published August 12th, 2015 -  - 08.12.151


“2015 has been a banner year for work family policy,” Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research told the Huffington Post.

Sure enough, Adobe Systems Inc. is the latest company to announce a new parental leave policy, less than a week after Netflix and Microsoft announced their expansive policies. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Adobe will offer 26 weeks of paid maternal leave, an increase of 17 weeks, going into effect on November 1. Fathers who aren’t primary caregivers will get four weeks of paid leave, an increase from two. The change is set to affect about 6,000 employees. As the Journal writes, changes like these in the tech industry may be an attempt to address the fact that the industry is predominantly male, with very few women and people of color in leadership roles.

Following Netflix’s announcement last week that it would offer most of its employees paid parental leave of up to one year, Alizah Salario at the Washington Post writes that the company’s policy change and the resounding approval in response illuminates how far behind the United States remains compared to other developed nations in its parental leave policies. Even if top-tier tech companies like Netflix, Facebook, and now Adobe offer expansive policies to retain their skilled employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which only covers about half of American workers, guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Furthermore, as Salario explains, a corporation offering policies beyond the law’s requirements is not the problem; the problem is that the parental leave policies are being advertised as “perks” or “unique job benefits” on lists between “on-site spa service” and “drink fridge.” Salario writes, “Clustering luxurious job perks with extended parental leave blurs the distinction between privilege and what should be guaranteed by public policy.”

In political news, the National Nurses United has become the first national union to endorse Bernie Sanders, according to Politico. The 185,000-member NNU is notoriously liberal, whose history includes opposing the Affordable Care Act for not being single-payer, and its predecessor union supporting Ralph Nader in 2000. The NNU is the second AFL-CIO union to endorse a presidential candidate, following the AFT’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton in July.

California has passed a new law to improve conditions for immigrants in the state. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law striking the word “alien” from California’s labor laws. This is the latest in a series of moves by the state to address immigration issues left untouched by the federal legislature, following California’s 2013 passage of a law enabling immigrants in the U.S. illegally to seek driver’s licenses, and last year’s repeal of Proposition 187, which denied immigrants in the U.S. illegally access to public services.

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