What Do We Have to Do To Get Paid Family Leave?

Case Studies

The United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee working mothers and fathers paid family leave. Our current law, providing 12 weeks of unpaid leave, excludes 40 percent of working families. And only 13 percent of workers have access to paid family leave from their employers.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton (and, dubiously, Ivanka Trump) made Paid Family Leave a campaign issue. But in early 2015, when ART NOT WAR approached Emily’s List with the idea of creating a viral video to raise awareness on the subject, Paid Family Leave had yet to enter the mainstream American conversation. We like to think our work gave Paid Family Leave just the nudget it needed. We created an edgy, humorous-yet-educational piece starring a host of celebrity moms and dads like Milla Jovovich, Jemima Kirke (star of the hit HBO series Girls) award-winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nick Sandow (star of Orange is the New Black, Malik Yoba (star of Empire), riot grrl legend Kathleen Hannah, and more to spread the word.

American Women (the research arm of Emily’s List) released the video with almost no budget available for conventional promotion. Despite that challenge, it became viral organically, generating hundreds of thousands of views within days of its release and earning coverage in national news outlets like Glamour, Elle, Refinery29 and Mic. Within a couple of weeks the video was picked up by Upworthy.com and views rocketed past 6 million (and counting) in a matter of days, making it the most successful media piece thus far on Paid Family Leave.

In January of 2016, the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of New York state senators, introduced 12 weeks of paid leave as part of its legislative agenda. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order giving 20,000 city employees six weeks of fully paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. And in February 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo filed regulations for the implementation of New York’s paid family leave program, the most comprehensive yet in the nation.