Saturday, September 22, 2007

It's Time for a Mother's Movement

Before I was a mom I worked hard for two years to get my university to pass a more progressive family leave policy.

Right now the University at Albany only allows for female faculty and professional staff to take four weeks before childbirth and six weeks after delivery of maternity leave. The maternity leave pay is tied to an employees sick leave. So, if an employee has been with the University two years or less, then much of the leave is unpaid. Male faculty and staff may only take 15 days, and adoptive parents may not take any leave (since no one is "sick").

Before Isabel was born, I didn't think six weeks of leave following childbirth was enough. Now, I know it's not long enough. At six weeks, I was just starting to get back into the swing of things. The thought of having to go back to work full time is simply unbelievable. I don't know how I would have managed that.

Now, it's true that parents have the option of taking the federal Family and Medical Leave Act time, which is 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for children or sick relatives. The problem there is such leave is unpaid. I have the financial luxury to take an unpaid leave, but many parents do not.

Family and childcare simply do not get enough political attention in the U.S. That needs to change. Mothers need to come together to be part of a movement to affect better policies around childcare and work. Women should not have to choose between work and family.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fred Thompson Just Called . . . .

I just got off the phone with the most novel fundraising approach I've ever experienced from a campaign.

I'm not even signed up on Thompson's website, but somehow his exploratory committee got hold of my telephone number and called me to solicit funds.

It didn't start out as a typical fundraising call. Instead, a pleasant, female voice told me that Fred Thompson is traveling the country seeking feedback from people like me as he explores his run for the presidency, and that he would like me to hear a message from him, and then answer a few questions about my thoughts about his campaign and the state of the country. I was thinking this was going to be a public opinion survey funded by his campaign.

So, I held the line as I listened to a recorded message from Thompson. He told me in his folksy, Southern voice that he had thought he'd turned his back on politics in 2002, but he's since decided the country needs someone like him, so he's been testing the waters for a run for the presidency and "the water is warm." He tells me he'd like me to stay on the line to answer a few questions.

So, I stayed on the line, and a new voice, a young, male voice greeted me with a "hello Mr. Stromer, er, Ms. Stromer" and asked me if I heard the message from "Fred" okay. I told him I did. He then asked me something along the lines of, "Do you think the White House should be taken back by average people like me."

"Well, sure," I said brightly.

What else would I say? "No. I think we should continue to have idiots run the country."

Then, the nice young man, dropped into a fundraising pitch.

It's worth noting that Thompson is "announcing" tonight at midnight. He's appearing on Leno and skipping the Republican debate in NH. He also is airing his first ad on Fox during the debate (that's a first, I believe).

If this is any indication, Thompson is going to be a financial force to reckon with. I understand he's amassed millions already - and he hasn't announced yet. It's novel that he's airing a nation-wide ad at this early date, and that he's already tele-fundraising is especially remarkable to me. I'm not likely to be on any of the Republican's donor lists, so that my name got picked for a call is remarkable to me. I haven't received such solicitations from any other Republicans or Democrats yet (and it's Democrats who are more likely to call me in the first place).

Ladies and Gentlemen. Let the games begin . . . .