MEDIA RELEASE: New Poll in North Carolina Shows Strong Public Support for a National Paid Family, Medical Leave Fund

RALEIGH (July 13, 2016) – New public opinion survey results from North Carolina show strong support for new federal policies that support working families.

By a nearly two-to-one margin, 68 percent of voters in the Tarheel State support the creation of a national paid family and medical leave fund, 74 percent support a paid sick days law, and 60 percent support increasing access to high-quality affordable child care.

“North Carolina voters recognize the national tragedy that forces sick workers, new parents, and family caregivers to choose between earning their paychecks and their families," said Allan Freyer, Director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center. "The United States remains one of only a handful of countries that don’t provide paid time off to new mothers as they recover from childbirth, adult children as they provide care to family members with extended medical problems, or workers with contagious illnesses. Voters are clearly saying that this is wrong and needs to be fixed."

Commissioned by the 15 national organizations that make up the Work Family Strategy Council, these new results from Public Policy Polling provide further evidence of the strong public demand for policies that help people manage family and work responsibilities. The poll surveyed 784 North Carolina registered voters as part of a larger poll of 15 states. Full results for North Carolina can be found here.

Key findings from North Carolina include the following:

  • A strong majority of people surveyed say they face challenges when managing job, family, and personal responsibilities: 61 percent of full-time workers say they would be likely to face significant economic hardship if they had to take time from their jobs without pay to care for a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or deal with their own serious health issue.
  • Voters overwhelmingly favor a law that would create a national paid family and medical leave fund: 68 percent say they favor such a law, 49 percent say they strongly favor one, and only 28 percent express any opposition.
  • Voters also strongly support a national paid sick days standard and increased access to high-quality, affordable child care: 74 percent say they favor a law that would guarantee all workers the right to earn paid sick days from their employers; only 21 percent express opposition.
  • The majority of voters say they would be more likely to vote for an elected official or candidate who supports allowing workers to earn paid sick days. 54 percent of voters support guaranteeing workers paid time off when they’re sick, while just 22 percent make it less likely.
  • A strong majority voters support a federal law increasing access to quality, affordable childcare. 60 percent say they favor this program, while just 31 percent express opposition.

“Paid family medical leave is an economic justice and a health issue — nobody wants a sick nurse taking your temperature or a sick waiter serving your food at a restaurant," said Erin Byrd, co-convenor of the North Carolina Black Women's Roundtable and member of the NC Families Care Coalition. "Nine out of 10 working people don’t have access to paid leave at their jobs, meaning that they have to make a choice between keeping their bills paid or welcoming their new baby home, taking care of their aging parent or recovering from chemotherapy. The lack of paid leave tears at the fabric of our community by keeping us from being there for our families when they need us the most."

Despite the nearly universal challenges people face in managing the demands of job and family, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and only 61 percent have access to paid sick days. For lower-wage workers, access to paid time off to use for family and medical needs is even rarer. The new data suggest voters strongly favor changing these realities.

"When my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer, we were completely overwhelmed. As the oldest of her children, I needed to be there to help her get to and from chemo appointments, to ask questions and take notes during visits with her oncologist, and to help her at home while she recovered from multiple surgeries," said Ana Pardo, co-convener NC Families Care Coalition. "At the time I worked for an employer who paid low wages and didn't offer paid leave, so the time I spent helping my mom was in exchange for much-needed income. This added to her stress and mine through what was already an incredibly frightening and painful situation, because we were both worried that I'd lose my job for taking the time off, or get kicked out of my apartment if I couldn't make rent on time. I wasn't able to be there as often as she needed me throughout her treatment and recovery, and that's a really hard thing to accept even now. People deserve to be able to focus on their families' needs in these situations."

Surveys were conducted among 9,611 registered voters between July 7-10 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin and the results were aggregated and averaged across the states. Learn more at this link and read the national summary here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Allan Freyer, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151.

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The Work Family Strategy Council is a collaborative of 15 national organizations dedicated to promoting policies that help ensure all working people can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their jobs or economic security. The groups are experts on paid family and medical leave, paid sick days and other issues of importance to working families, and they are driving successful organizing and advocacy efforts to secure policy changes at the local, state and national levels. Together, the council’s work improves life for millions of people across the country.
 
Member organizations are: 9to5; A Better Balance; Black Women’s Roundtable of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Center for American Progress; Center for Economic and Policy Research; Center for Law and Social Policy; Family Values @ Work; Institute for Women’s Policy Research; Labor Project for Working Families, in partnership with Family Values @ Work; Make It Work Campaign; MomsRising; National Domestic Workers Alliance; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women’s Law Center; and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

 

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