Paid parental leave, a stronger Family Medical Leave Act, mandated workplace flexibility ¬— these are just a few of the major family-friendly issues now under consideration in Congress.
In fact, this session of Congress could be the most family-friendly-focused in more than a decade, say experts. “The dynamic is changing,” says Marcy Karin, director of the Work-Life Policy Unit at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. “There’s a lot more bipartisan interest in things like workplace flexibility and paid sick days. We’re seeing a lot of renewed interest on Capitol Hill.”
Certainly, it helps to have working parents in the White House to help bring attention to important these working-mother issues, but we know the real legislative work must happen first in the House and Senate. That’s why we applaud the 30 winners of our second biennial Best of Congress awards.
Selected by Working Mother and Corporate Voices for Working Families, a national business membership organization, our 2010 Best of Congress winners are true work-life leaders, advocating for working moms and dads not only in Congress and their communities, but also in their own offices.
Each of these winners (meet them here) are lobbying to create or expand a slew of innovative programs designed specifically to help working parents. But these proposals won’t survive on great ideas alone. More than ever, the voices of working moms must ring through the halls of Capital Hill.
Yes, we’re all pressed for time. That’s why Working Mother has compiled a handy scorecard of sorts, to run down the most important proposals that you need to know about (link). Think of it as your own personal “Busy Working Mother’s Guide to Congress.” Use it to pick your battles, then contact your congressmember. In fact, we can help you there too. Here are some tips for the most effective ways to have your voice heard:
Email your senators or representative. Let them know what legislation you support, but don’t use snail mail. Mailed letters have to be security screened, which can slow down response time by weeks. Check senate.gov or house.gov for your legislators’ email address, and in the subject line, reference a specific bill or issue.
Choose your moment. Your support or opposition is more meaningful when a bill is due for action in committee or a vote. Thomas.loc.gov lists major actions for all legislation for the current Congress. You can also register with an advocacy group that notifies members when proposed legislation is at critical junctures through email blasts or Twitter feeds.
Reach out on recess. Your senators and representative are likely back home right now and in their districts until September 10. The legislative break is a good time to seek a meeting or extend an invitation to your workplace.
You know what they say: Want something done? Give it to a busy woman. So let’s get busy – and let’s get this important work done!
Jennifer Owens, Senior Director, Editorial Research & Initiatives, leads the Working Mother Best Companies Team, which produces such initiatives as the Working Mother 100 Best Companies and Working Mother/Corporate Voices for Working Families Best of Congress.