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Contributed by Sharon Loucks on 06/24/2014
Stephen Sweet, Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology, participated in the White House Summit on Working Families held June 23 in Washington DC.
Plenary speakers included President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Participants at the Summit were a select group of academics, policy experts, business leaders, and labor leaders who share a common commitment to understanding and identifying solutions to work-family tensions.
At the Summit, President Obama announced a new initiative to require federal agencies to provide employees more flexibility to take time off to take care of ill family members, to nurse, or to be able to work from home. In addition, he urged Congress to pass the FAMILY Act, which would provide a pay dimension to the already established 12 week unpaid family leave provided by the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act. The United States is the only advanced economy that does not provide for such leave. The Summit was intended to draw national attention to the mismatch of current employment practices and the challenges workers face – especially in their capacities to provide care for the young, the aged, and those with special needs.