Politics

Elizabeth Warren's Post About Mother's Day Is Going Viral

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had a message for voters on Mother's Day, and it went beyond brunch, flowers, and heartfelt cards.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

In a post to Facebook, Warren named her personal top three legislative priorities that, she said, "would make a real difference" in the lives of moms everywhere. The post has been shared more than 7,100 times since Sunday morning and has garnered more than 23,000 likes and counting.

What's on the senator's list?

1. Paid maternity leave.

Mother and children

Warren pointed out that the United States is one of only four countries in the world that doesn't guarantee paid leave for new parents, and that only 12 percent of private employers currently offer some kind of paid family leave to American workers. If these dismal numbers aren't sad enough, consider that the number of employers that provide maternity leave has actually dropped from 2010, when 17 percent of companies offered maternity or paternity leave.

There is a scientific argument for paid parental leave. Research has shown that the benefits of such leave benefit both parents and their children. With such leave, more women remain in the workforce nine to 12 months after having a child, and fewer families wind up on food stamps or public assistance.

2. Paid sick leave — for when mom is sick and for when her children are sick.

Warren favored paid sick leave for workers that would also apply to parents who need to take time off to care for a sick child. She wrote:

"A mom should be able to take off a little time when she’s sick — or take off a day when her child is sick — and not worry that she will lose her job or won’t be able to make the rent. 70 percent of low-wage workers don’t get a single paid sick day."

Even among higher-paid workers, sick leave is still far from the norm. Nationally, four in 10 private-sector workers lack any paid time off for illness. This may mean up to 43.5 million workers who feel forced for financial reasons to work when they're feeling under the weather, according to Betsey Stevenson of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

3. Work scheduling that allows parents to arrange child care.

Warren's final wish list item concerns the erratic work hours that plague many of America's on-call and part-time employees. Unpredictable schedules affect about 17 percent of the labor force, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute. That's bad for anyone, and particularly harmful for working parents, who often need advance notice to schedule child care.

According to Warren, half of low-wage workers have "little or no say over when they work," and almost one-third are in jobs that use so-called just-in-time scheduling practices that mean a worker can be called in to work at the last minute — or risk losing her job.

For Warren, it's about honoring women.

The senator called for Americans to honor women by pushing for paid family leave, paid sick leave, and work schedules that respect employees. It's important to remember that moms aren't the only ones affected by these issues: Working fathers can also be left in the lurch by a lack of parent-friendly policies. These issues are worth everyone's attention, even after the Mother's Day festivities are over.