The end of summer vacation.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
June 11 2008 4:50 PM

The End of Summer Vacation

A workplace crisis that Obama and McCain could actually fix.

(Continued from Page 1)

If Barack Obama and John McCain want to show they care about those much-discussed working-class voters, they would be wise to address the time squeeze. Many voters want their states to do what California and New Jersey have done: provide six weeks of paid family leave. (Washington state offers five weeks; similar bills have been introduced in Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania.) According to the pollster Celinda Lake, 89 percent of voters support legislating paid sick days, while 76 percent favor legislating paid family leave even if the financing would cost all workers $1 of their paychecks a week. At the moment, however, only San Francisco and the District of Columbia have enacted laws guaranteeing paid sick days. In California and Connecticut, one house, but not both, of the state legislature has approved paid sick days, while similar bills have been introduced in 10 other states.

The presidential candidates may not be able to end wage stagnation. Nor can they halt globalization and the way it erodes job security for factory workers and white-collar workers alike. But they just might be able to ease the time squeeze. They can enact laws that guarantee paid vacation. They can also press for legislation providing for paid sick days and paid family leave. Many family-advocacy groups, feminists, and labor unions argue that these measures would go far to reduce tensions between balancing job and family.

Advertisement

Yes, there will be a cost. Many business groups complain that these measures would reduce employer flexibility and increase payroll costs, perhaps significantly. On the other hand, companies that already provide paid vacations, sick days, and parental leave wouldn't mind if their competitors were required to do likewise. And it's worth noting that many corporations that provide these benefits have grown and thrived. Moreover, paid sick days might prove to increase productivity by sending more flu-stricken workers home, where they won't infect everyone else.

And politically speaking, you could imagine Sens. McCain or Obama waving the justice baton about the time squeeze and getting widespread credit for it. Job creep, work/home imbalance, stress—these are problems that unite feminists and Reagan Democrats, family-values conservatives and pro-worker liberals. Maybe we're all too busy at work to lift up our heads and notice what's happening to us or too nervous about the economic downturn to protest. But if a presidential candidate did that for us, wouldn't he hear a lot of amens?

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Americans' Inexplicable Aversion to the 1990s
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.