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Stories Out Of Colorado: Why The State Needs Stronger Paid Leave Policies

This Friday in Denver, Colorado State Senator Jesse Ulibarri and State Rep. John Salazar spoke at the Department of Labor Women's Bureau forum on working families held as part of the lead-up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014. Among the policy priorities these state legislators have long sought to elevate, especially during the National Week of Action, is the need to expand Coloradans' access to paid leave.

As these stories from 9to5.org illustrate, the need is pressing for Coloradans, who would rely on paid leave as workers, family members, and caretakers for themselves and others.

Shelby Ramirez

Everyone has a sick family member to care for at some point

  • For me it was my daughter recovering from surgery and my sick, elderly dad

Taking leave put me in a terrible place economically

  • Grateful for FMLA that allowed me to take leave but it was UNPAID
  • Couldn’t pay rent – thank goodness I wasn’t evicted but I could’ve been
  • Took 4 months to catch up with rent, utilities, other bills


Lin Nester

Everyone is sick or has a sick family member to care for at some point

  • For me it was my daughter battling a life-threatening infection and my father who suffered a stroke and paralysis after heart surgery
  • My father outlived my unpaid FMLA leave, so I was fired

Taking care of my dad put me in a terrible place economically

  • Cashed out 401k, sold my jewelry/valuables, racked up credit card debt
  • Pushed into homelessness, living in a bus with my disabled husband, daughter living with friend so she can go to school.


Shauntay President

Everyone is sick or has a sick family member to care for at some point

  • I have a disability which requires periodic surgeries, although I can work in between
  • In 2008 in MO, I had FMLA with 60% wage replacement which saved me from becoming homeless

Taking leave put me in a terrible place economically – but wage replacement saved me from homelessness

  • Grateful for FMLA that allowed me to take leave and partial wage replacement
  • I still went into debt but the wage replacement kept me from living on the streets


Barb Gertz 

Everyone gets sick or has a sick family member to care for at some point

  • I had a serious allergic reaction to the new shoes I bought for work and had to take 3+ weeks off so my skin would heal

Taking leave put me in a terrible place economically

  • No paid leave – now I have shut off notices for water and lights, no money for groceries
  • May not be able to pay rent next month and could be homeless soon