Sen. Mattie Daughtry talks paid family and medical leave at Bangor conference

Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Voices advocating for paid family and medical leave echoed across the streets of downtown Bangor from Pierce Memorial Park.

You could hear advocates saying, “We believe Mainers deserve paid family and medical leave,” throughout the conference.

Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Cumberland, joined doctors and nurses on Harlow Street to discuss the progress made in the last few years on passing LD 1559 through the Maine legislature.

Dr. Noah Nesin spoke on his own behalf, stressing the need for the bill.

“Our patients, my patients, are forced to delay or deny themselves care because they can’t afford to take the time off to access that care,” said Nesin. “It’s a part of my duty to stand up and demand that the legislature pass paid family and medical leave.”

Maine is currently the only state in New England that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave benefits for workers.

The Mabel Wadsworth Center is a part of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Coalition.

Community engagement coordinator Aspen Ruhlin said they know what it feels like to go through an unexpected and tough situation.

“People deserve good, full lives where their needs are met, where they can support the people they love, where they can support themselves,” said Ruhlin. “As someone who is a cancer survivor myself, this is something that also has a little bit of a personal element to me.”

It was also personal for Daughtry who made paid family and medical leave one of her top priorities when she took office in 2012.

“I introduced this bill when I got elected at 25 and I had seen and lost a close family member to terminal cancer,” said Daughtry. “I’d seen what the end of her life looked like, and having the village around her and how that contributed to her very precious end of life.”

Daughtry said it’s hard to provide family and medical leave benefits for smaller businesses in Maine, however, if this bill gets pushed forward a statewide program will create a path for those businesses to compete in an employee-driven economy.

“I love getting to hear from employers who have really great practices in their businesses that they’d love to see in the state program and really figuring out what works for Maine,” said Daughtry.