PARENTAL LEAVE FOR ALL

February 14, 2019 at 4:45 am

Former CNN reporter Josh Levs is fighting for fair parental leave for fathers to care for their families. He joins us to explain.

Aired February 13, 2019.

Transcript Print

>>> IN 2015 CNN REPORTED JOSH'S
WIFE GAVE BIRTH TO A BABY GIRL.
WITH A JOY THE BABY WAS BORN
PREMATURELY.
ASKING FOR TIME OFF TO HELP CARE
FOR HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER HE WAS
MET WITH' DENIAL FROM TIME
WARNER.
HE FILED A GENDER DISCRIMINATION
LAWSUIT AND SETTLED AND IN THE
WAKE THE COMPANY CHANGED ITS
POLICY TO EXTEND TO IT WORKING
FATHERS.
CHANGE IS HAPPENING GRADUALLY
AROUND THE COUNTRY AS CALIFORNIA
SIGNED THE MOST FAMILY LIBERAL
LEAVE LAW ON THE BOOKS AND JOSH
HAS BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR THE
CAUSE.
HE'S ALSO AUTHORED THE BOOK ALL
IN, HOW OUR WORK FIRST CULTURE
FAILS DADS, FAMILIES AND
BUSINESSES AND HOW WE CAN FIX IT
TOGETHER.
WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE JOSH
JOINING US NOW.
JOSH, GOOD TO SEE YOU.
>> TALKING ABOUT FAMILY, YOU'RE
TALKING TO ME FROM HOME.
>> YOU GOT THE BEST DEAL GOING
ON RIGHT NOW.
LET'S TALK ABOUT NEW YORK.
ON THE HEELS OF WHAT YOU WERE
ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH AND IN YOUR
DEALINGS WITH TIME WARNER.
WHAT SORT OF CHANGE HAVE WE SEEN
TAKEN PLACE IN THE STATE OF NEW
YORK
>> THE STATE OF NEW YORK JOINED
A FEW OTHER STATES IN HAVING A
PAID FAMILY LEAVE LAW.
WHICH IS GREAT.
WE EARLY ON HAD SOME PAID FAMILY
LEAVE EXISTING IN CALIFORNIA AND
NEW JERSEY AND RHODE ISLAND.
BUT THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS
AFTER PUSHING AND WORK AT THE
LEGISLATIVE LEVEL WE SAW NEW
YORK TAKE ON A PAID FAMILY LEAVE
POLICY THAT'S NOW GOING IN
GRADUALLY.
LITTLE BY LITTLE PEOPLE ARE
GETTING MORE PAID TIME OFF TO DO
ANY KIND OF CAREGIVING.
YES FOR A CHILD BUT TO CARE FOR
AN ELDERLY PARENT OR SICK
SPOUSE.
>> WHEN YOU GO TO TALK TO
LEGISLATORS ABOUT THE NOTION OF
PROVIDING SOME SORT OF APPROACH
TO THIS, WHAT'S THE PUSH BACK
THAT YOU GET MOST REGULARLY FROM
THEM?
>> THE PUSH BACK USUALLY BASED
ON A MISUNDERSTANDING.
THE FIRST THING I TELL THEM,
PAID FAMILY LEAVE AS IT EXISTS
IN THESE STATES IS INSURANCE.
IT'S A TINY PAYROLL DEDUCTION.
THAT CREATES A FUND.
THAT'S HOW PEOPLE GET PAID
LEAVE.
IT'S NOT A LAW IN WHICH WE COME
ALONG AND TELL ALL BUSINESSES
THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY SOMEONE
THEIR ENTIRE SALARY WHILE THEY
ARE OFF.
A LOT OF LAWMAKERS DON'T KNOW
THAT.
WHAT WE FINE ONCE THEY GET THE
INFORMATION THEY START TO
DISCOVER THERE'S NO BIG
ARGUMENT, WHICH IS WHY
NATIONALLY MAJORITY OF
REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS AND
INDEPENDENTS ALL SUPPORT THIS.
>> WHEN PEOPLE SAY IT'S JUST
GOING TO BE TOO EXPENSIVE FOR
BUSINESSES ESPECIALLY SMALL
BUSINESSES.
WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?
>> WELL THE GOOD NEWS IS WE
DON'T HAVE TO THEORIZE WHAT IT
WILL DO TO SMALL BUSINESSES.
HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW.
WHEN CALIFORNIA PUT IT IN PLACE
BUSINESSES SAW PROFITS GOES UP.
IT MAKES SENSE THAT HAPPENS.
FOR THE FIRST TIME PEOPLE DON'T
HAVE TO DROPOUT OF THE
WORKFORCE.
INSTEAD THEY HAVE A LITTLE BIT
OF PAID TIME FROM THAT FUND AND
THEN USUALLY STAY IN THE
WORKFORCE AND GO BACK TO WORK.
BUSINESSES ARE PRODUCING MORE
GOODS AND SERVICES AND GETTING
HIGHER PROFITS.
THE FEAR MONGERING, THE PEOPLE
WHO SAY IT'S BAD FOR BUSINESS
IT'S ALREADY BEEN DISPROVEN AND
THAT'S WHY IT'S A COMPETITION
WITH NEW YORK JOINING IN,
MASSACHUSETTS, OTHER STATES
WANTING TO DO THIS IN ORDER TO
ATTRACT, RETAIN AND GET THOSE
PROFITS.
>> TELL US WHAT CALIFORNIA HAS
DONE.
THEY'VE TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT
STEP.
SNEERS WHAT'S HAPPENING.
UNDER GOVERNOR NEWSOME THERE'S
THIS CALL AND SUPPORT NOW FOR
BROADENING OUT THE PAID FAMILY
LEAVE PROGRAM THAT ALREADY
EXISTS.
SO WHAT WE'VE SEEN IS THAT THIS
HAS BECOME SO POPULAR THAT NOW
THERE ARE CALLS TO EXPAND IT.
AND IN CALIFORNIA THEY ARE
TALKING ABOUT CREATING A SYSTEM
IN WHICH BOTH PARENTS AFTER A
NEW CHILD GET THREE MONTHS PAID
EACH.
THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT
EXACTLY,000 STRUCTURE THE
FUNDING AROUND THAT.
WHAT THAT DOES IT BROADENS THE
NUMBER OF WEEKS PEOPLE WILL GET
PAID.
YOUR VIEWERS MIGHT BE HAPPY TO
KNOW NEW YORK IS WORKING TOWARDS
SOMETHING VERY SIMILAR.
AS OF 2021 BOTH PARENTS CAN GET
12 PAID WEEKS EACH.
SO IN EACH CASE THERE'S SOME
SPECIFICS ABOUT WHO CAN GET IT
AND HOW MUCH.
BUT BIG PICTURE, NEW YORK IS
ADVANCING TOO AND CALIFORNIA IS
COMPETING.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK THERE'S A
LACK OF UNDERSTANDING?
>> BECAUSE NO ONE HAS EVER TOLD
THEM.
IN AMERICA AND IN SOME WAYS IT'S
LEGIT A REACTION, ALLERGIC
REACTION TO TAX.
WHEN WE HEAR ANYTHING AT ALL
ABOUT A SYSTEM IN WHICH SOME
MONEY WILL BE TAKEN, GO BACK TO
1776 IN YOUR MIND.
THIS IDEA THAT WE REJECT
ANYTHING THAT SOUNDS LIKE A TAX.
WHEN PEOPLE HEAR PAID FAMILY
LEAVE OFTEN WE HAVE THE FIRST
AMERICAN INSTINCT TO SAY THAT
SOUNDS LIKE A TAX, TAX IS NOT
FREE MARKETS IT'S BAD FOR
BUSINESS.
HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE
HYPOTHETICAL ABOUT THIS.
IT'S AN INSURANCE SYSTEM AND IT
HELPS BUSINESSES.
SO NOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT HOW DO
YOU FEEL?
I'VE BEEN ON CAPITOL HILL AND
WORKED WITH NEW YORK
LEGISLATURES.
SPOKEN AT VARIOUS STATE LEVELS.
WE'RE AT THE POINT WHERE NOBODY
HAS A STRONG ARGUMENT AGAINST
IT.
>> ARE YOU FINDING IN YOUR
TRAVELS SOME AREAS OF THE
COUNTRY ARE MORE WILLING TO
EMBRACE THESE NOTION?
>> YES.
WHAT HAPPENS IS THERE'S SORT OF
A GROUND SWELL WITHIN EACH
STATE.
AND AS THAT GROUND SWELL GROWS
YOU GET CHANGE.
NEW YORK IS STRUGGLING WITH THIS
FOR A WHILE.
AND THE GROUND SWELL GOT TO THE
POINT IN WHICH EVERYONE AGREED
TO IT.
IT'S NOT SO MUCH GEOGRAPHIC.
WE'RE SEEING SOME DEVELOPMENTS
IN EVERY TIME ZONE IN THE
COUNTRY WHICH IS GREAT.
BUT WHAT WE DO FIND IS WHERE
THERE'S THE LARGEST GRASSROOTS
EFFORT IT TARTS TO HAPPEN.
ALSO WHERE STATES ARE HEARING
ABOUT EACH OTHER IN THAT
COMPETITIVE NATURE KICKS IN,
THAT'S HELPING AS WELL AND
THAT'S ONE REASON THAT IT'S NOW
QUITE LIKELY TO HAPPEN IN
CONNECTICUT, BECAUSE
CONNECTICUT -- PEOPLE HAVE SEEN
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK AND
NEW JERSEY AND THEY WANT TO
COMPLETE THAT TRI-STATE T
TRIFECTA.
>> IN AN ERA WHEN WE RARELY HEAR
THE TERM BIPARTISAN ARE YOU
FINDING BIPARTISAN SUPPORT ONCE
PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT?
>> ONLY AT THE STATE LEVEL.
THAT SPEAKS HOW MESSED UP THINS
ARE IN WASHINGTON.
IT'S RIDICULOUS.
THIS GOES BACK BEFORE DONALD
TRUMP BECAME PRESIDENT.
I WAS ON CAPITOL HILL TALKING TO
PEOPLE ABOUT PAID FAMILY LEAVE.
MEETING WITH SENATORS.
ALL THE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS I
MET WITH WERE LINING UP TO
SUPPORT IT.
THE BEST SYSTEM AVAILABLE IS
CALLED THE FAMILY ACT.
IT WOULD TAKE THIS NEW YORK IDEA
AND MAKE IT NATIONAL.
SENATOR GILLIBRAND OF NEW YORK
IS ONE OF THE MAIN PEOPLE
PUSHING FOR THAT.
I'M ON A WORKING GROUP TO HER
OFFICE.
ALL THE REPUBLICAN SENATORS I
MET WITH AND THEIR STAFFS THEY
HAD NO ARGUMENT AGAINST IT.
THEY AGREED IN PRINCIPLE BUT
WOULD NOT TAKE STEPS TO MOVE
FORWARD AND THAT SPEAKS TO FEAR
OF THEIR OWN VOTERS, THE FEAR OF
WHAT YOU SAID, THE FEAR IF YOU
STOPPED PEOPLE ON THE STREET
THEY WILL HAVE A NEGATIVE
REACTION TO IT BECAUSE THEY
DON'T KNOW IT'S GOOD.
AT STATE LEVELS IT'S BIPARTISAN
IN ALL OF THE STATES WHERE IT'S
HAPPENING.
NATIONALLY WE'RE NOT GETTING
TRUE BIPARTISAN ACTION
SPECIFICALLY FROM THE FAMILY
ACT, WHICH IS THE RIGHT WAY TO
GO.
>> LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.
YOUR SEEING, STILL, THIS NOFGS A
STIGMA THAT ATTACHES TO THE
IDEA, ESPECIALLY OF PATERNITY
LEAVE?
>> YES.
I'M GLAD TO SEE THAT IT'S GOING
DOWN A LITTLE BIT.
THAT'S ONE PLACE WHERE WE'RE
SEEING BIPARTISAN EFFORTS.
REPUBLICANS ARE TALKING CONCEPT
THE -- CONCEPTUALLY ABOUT PAID
FAMILY LEAVE FOR FATHERS.
WE'RE SEEING STIGMA STARTING TO
GO AWAY.
THIS IS PART OF THE WORK I DO.
MEN FACE DEMOTIONS OR SOMETIMES
GET FIRED IF THEY DARE TO TAKE
PATERNITY LEAVE AND THIS IS
PROVEN AROUND THE COUNTRY IN ALL
SORTS OF SITUATIONS BECAUSE WE
HAVE THIS BACKWARD THINKING THAT
MEN ARE LAZY AT HOME, THAT WE
DON'T DO ANYTHING AT HOME, SO IF
A GUY WANTS PATERNITY LEAVE
HE'LL CRACK OPEN A BEER AND DO
NOTHING UNTIL THE WIFE GETS
HOME.
WE HAVE THESE STEREOTYPES IN
MIND SO UNTIL WE CONQUER THAT WE
WON'T HAVE THE LEGISLATIVE
ACTION THAT WE NEED.
>> THANK YOU FOR TALK WITH US.
>> MY PLEASURE AS ALWAYS.
>> BE WELL.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019