Wage Hikes and Parental Leave Are Big Wins for Greensboro, N.C., City Workers

Last year, Working America led a vibrant coalition to win a landmark minimum wage hike for city workers. The commitment to raise the minimum wage for the lowest-paid workers to $15 by 2020 was the first victory of its kind in the south.

Then, on Aug. 16, 2016, the Greensboro City Council handed the coalition a second landmark victory, voting 9-0 to pass a new paid parental leave policy for city workers.

The Paid Parental Leave ordinance offers up to six weeks of paid parental leave to men, women and same-sex couples employed by the city of Greensboro for at least one year who welcome a new member into their families through birth, fostering or adoption. Currently, working families employed by the city may access benefits from the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which only provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for eligible recipients.

“This ordinance is the right thing to do to help narrow the gender pay gap for Greensboro’s dedicated employees and improve the vitality and economy of our city overall,” said Councilman Jamal Fox, who introduced the ordinance. “Our city workers are professionals committed to Greensboro’s success—they shouldn't have to choose between bonding with their child and paying their bills.”

Leading up to the vote, Working America members met with the City Council and wrote letters to the editor in support of adopting the ordinance. Additionally, working families and allies—including Working America members—packed the room to offer testimony in favor of the policy during the meeting.

“Greensboro continues to lead the way in creating smart, family-friendly policies that address troubling disparities and acknowledge today’s diverse family structures,” said Working America North Carolina State Director Carolyn Smith. “By raising wages and granting access to paid time off to city workers to care for new additions to their families, Greensboro continues to serve as a model to municipalities throughout the south for improving standards for working families.”

While paid parental leave policies are growing in popularity, most working Americans still lack access to paid family leave. According to a recent Associated Press analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12 percent of working people in the United States have access to paid leave through their jobs. A recent report from the North Carolina Justice Center asserts that in North Carolina alone, a staggering 1.2 million working people in the private sector do not have access to any earned paid leave.

Greensboro Council Meeting

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