Ellen Bravo. (Photo: Ralph Alswang for the Center for American Progress / Flickr)When American workers finally get paid family leave, it's no exaggeration to say that they'll have Ellen Bravo to thank. Bravo, director of Family Values @Work, a 21-state coalition that is working to pass paid leave legislation at both the state and national level, has worked to organize women and men with this one policy goal for several decades. Bravo, who both wears her working-class identity proudly and can deliver data-driven talking points like a seasoned policy wonk, says that although the majority of employees are women working outside the home, most workplaces are still designed for men with wives at home.
In not providing any paid family leave for workers, the United States is alone among the world's richest nations, all of which provide at least some paid leave time for each worker to care for a newborn or sick/elderly family member. Just 12 percent of US workers have any paid family leave from their employers. Bravo argues that the American workplace needs to be retrofitted to accommodate the realities of today's workers.