Council Member Kshama Sawant says the city should increase taxes on businesses and use the money to give workers paid time off to care for a new baby or sick family member.
Council Member Kshama Sawant says the city should increase taxes on businesses and use the money to give workers paid time off to care for a new baby or sick family member. City of Seattle

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Tomorrow at the University of Washington, several women members of the Seattle City Council will continue their push to offer all workers in Seattle paid family leave.

Council Members Sally Bagshaw, Lorena González, and Lisa Herbold are sponsoring a symposium tomorrow that will convene business representatives and advocacy groups and is closed to the public. The goal of the event: talk about ways to offer paid family leave not just to employees of the City of Seattle but to all workers in Seattle.

Family leave allows workers time to either care for a new baby or a sick family member, responsibilities that still disproportionately fall on women. Overwhelming evidence shows that parental and family leave are beneficial for gender equity.

Seattle has improved paid parental leave for city employees but has not mandated that private sector businesses do the same. Many council members have said they support requiring paid family leave in the private sector too, but they have yet to introduce any formal proposal for how to do that.

Tomorrow, González will host a panel on the evidence supporting family leave and Herbold will host one on "implementation and financing." That will include input from a labor official from San Francisco, which recently expanded its parental leave policy.

While González and Herbold have hosted council committee discussions, Council Member Kshama Sawant has organized with labor leaders and advocates. At a recent public forum, Sawant said her office has looked into increasing taxes on businesses—specifically the business and occupation tax—to fund a leave program. (The B&O tax: everyone's favorite funding source for everything.)

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"If we used the B&O tax method, we would help not only win paid family and parental leave," Sawant said. "We would also help to begin overturning the regressiveness of the tax system in this state."

Watch the full event here:

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