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What a Celebration! The FMLA at 20

February 19, 2013 | Work and Family

This month, the National Partnership, along with other advocates, workers and lawmakers, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - the first and only national law to help workers balance the demands of job and family. The celebrations included a strong push to expand the law, so that more workers can take leave for more reasons and so all workers will have paid family leave insurance.

Workers have taken leave more than 100 million times under the FMLA in these 20 years. To recognize the FMLA's impact on men, women and families across the country, the National Partnership hosted "A Night of 100 Million Thanks" celebration. The event brought together past and present champions of the FMLA and family friendly workplace policies to both reflect on the law's success and look to the future.


Left to right: National Partnership Senior Advisor Judy Lichtman, Rep. Honda (D - Calif.), House Minority Leader Pelosi (D - Calif.), former Rep. Morella (R - Md.), former Sen. Dodd (D - Conn.), Rep. Capps (D - Calif.), Rep. Cardenas (D - Calif.), Rep. Sinema (D - Ariz.), Rep. DeLauro (D - Conn.) and National Partnership President Debra Ness. (In attendance, but not pictured: Sen. Cardin (D - Md.), Sen. Harkin (D - Iowa), Sen. Hirono (D - Hawaii), Sen. Murphy (D - Conn.), Rep. Duckworth (D - Ill.), Rep. Lujan Grisham (D - N.M. ), Rep. Kennedy (D - Mass.), Rep. Schakowsky (D - Ill.) and Rep. Swalwell (D - Calif.).)

The historic anniversary generated a great deal of activity on Capitol Hill and across the country, including multiple events, a new Department of Labor report on the FMLA, and many op-eds and blog posts from members of Congress and advocates. We are so grateful to everyone who made the milestone both a celebration and a call to action. Take a look at some of the highlights below and find photos here.


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D - Calif.) held a press conference on February 5th to commemorate the FMLA's 20th anniversary. The event featured members of Congress who support family friendly legislation, workers who have been helped by the FMLA, and representatives of the coalition that is urging lawmakers to take the next step.

Current and Former Lawmakers and Advocates Reflect on the FMLA and Call for Next Steps:


Former President Bill Clinton thanks the National Partnership and others for their continued work to expand the FMLA and advance paid leave policies at a celebration event hosted by the Department of Labor.

Bill Clinton: Why I Signed the Family and Medical Leave Act Former President Bill Clinton, Politico

Family and Medical Leave Act Still Working Former Senators Kit Bond (R - Mo.) and Chris Dodd (D - Conn.), USA Today

20 Years, 100 Million Families Helped Representative Rosa DeLauro (D - Conn.) and former Representative Connie Morella (R - Md.), Roll Call

Sick leave is essential for the workforce Senator Tom Harkin (D - Iowa), Politico

FMLA 20 years on: A disconnect that's hurting families Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families, The Hill

The Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 20! Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families, Working Mother

20 Years Ago Today, America Became a More Family-Friendly Nation -- And We Must Do It Again Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families, Huffington Post

The Family and Medical Leave Act: Then, Now and Next Seth Harris (Acting Secretary of Labor), Huffington Post

Kunin: Family and Medical Leave Act needs one more word: paid Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin (D), VT Digger

Expand National Paid Family Leave Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research, U.S. News & World Report

Op-Ed: The Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 20 But Half of U.S. Workers Still Can't Use It Ellen Bravo, Family Values @ Work, Take Part

A Personal Family and Medical Leave Act Story: How Children and Family Policy Became a "Big Thing" Patty Cole, Zero to Three

Making the Workplace Friendly for Everyone's Familia Alicia Criado, National Council of La Raza

Extend the Family Medical Leave Act Steven L. Dawes, United Steelworkers

4 Reasons To Update The Family And Medical Leave Act For The 21st Century Pat Garofalo, Center for American Progress Action Fund, ThinkProgress

IWPR Marks Anniversary of FMLA: Progress Still Needed on Paid Leave Jasmin Griffin, Institute for Women's Policy Research

Protecting Our Families When They're Most Vulnerable Emily Hecht-McGown, Family Equality Council

5 Advocacy Lessons from the FMLA Campaign Sue Hoechstetter, Bolder Advocacy

Celebrating Twenty Years of the FMLA Mary Kay Henry, SEIU

Kluger: Give devastated parents the time they need to grieve Barry Kluger, The MISS Foundation, Newsday

When Family Leave Crosses the Aisle Jodie Levin-Epstein, CLASP, Huffington Post

FMLA Anniversary: Celebrating 20 Years of Strengthening Families Linda Meric, 9to5, National Association of Working Women, Huffington Post

A Long Road to the Rose Garden Sammie Moshenberg, National Council of Jewish Women

Paid Family Leave: A Work Unfinished Susan Ochshorn, ECEPolicyWorks, ECE Policy Matters

Strengthening 21st Century Families: The Case for Paid Family Leave Susan Ochshorn, ECEPolicyWorks, and Curtis Skinner, National Center for Children in Poverty, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

MomsRising Celebrates and Looks Forward to Expanding on FMLA with Our Partners Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising

Extend family leave to all workers Janet Walsh, Human Rights Watch, CNN

Twelve Weeks and Twenty Years: Happy Birthday, Family and Medical Leave Act! Liz Watson, National Women's Law Center

For more, check out MomsRising's FMLA Blog Carnival.


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