This year the Maryland legislature is considering a law implementing paid family leave, with broad support from labor, the Catholic Church, and an array of community-based organizations. Financed by a modest payroll tax split between employer and employee, The Time to Care Act would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to workers caring for a sick family member or welcoming a new child.
On Feb. 7 the Maryland chapter of the Catholic Labor Network teamed up with Baltimore Catholic Charities to host a webinar on Paid Family Leave for Catholic activists, focusing on the need for economic structures that support families. Maryland Delegate Kris Valderrama, a parishioner at St. Columba in Oxon Hill, explained why she was sponsoring the legislation. From Catholic Charities, Regan Vaughn and Lisa Klingenmaier explained the proposal in detail, while therapist Maggie Schultz related stories of families she worked with rocked by illness. Maryland Catholic Labor Network member Terry Cavanagh commented on labor’s support for Time to Care.
Why is the Maryland Catholic Conference supporting paid family leave? It’s pretty simple, actually. As America’s Catholic Bishops put it in their 1986 Pastoral Letter on the Economy, Economic Justice for All,
The lack of a mutually supportive relation between family life and economic life is one of the most serious problems facing the United States today…Economic and social policies as well as the organization of the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the strength and stability of family life.
While the world tells us that we should accommodate our families to the demands of the economy, the world has it exactly backward. The family is created by God, and our economic structures should accommodate and support strong and stable families. One way they can do this is by providing paid family leave when family members need to care for a loved one or a newborn (or newly adopted) child.
Several other states and the District of Columbia have already implemented similar Paid Family Leave programs. The Maryland Catholic Labor Network has designated the Time to Care Act a legislative priority in 2022, along with support for collective bargaining for employees of the Office of the Public Defender.