PARENTAL LEAVE FOR ALL

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

> 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.

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