In a letter addressed to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council, Tony Sandkamp, the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City, explains why D.C.'s small business community needs Universal Paid Family Leave.
Dear Mayor Bowser and DC City Council:
I write to you as a successful business owner and member of the Main Street Alliance of New Jersey to urge you to create a paid family leave program in Washington, D.C. along the lines of what we have here in my home state of New Jersey.
I am the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks LLC, a small independent business focusing on custom architectural woodworking, based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Starting a business like mine isn't easy, but New Jersey's paid family leave system really helps entrepreneurs like me get off the ground. Because we are all covered under New Jersey's program, I knew I would be covered if something happened to me and my family, and I could attract top talent and offer benefits comparable to what my employees would get in a big established firm in my industry.
I have had personal experience in using the insurance pool. With just a handful of full-time, highly trained employees who are difficult to replace, my business suffers financially any time a valued employee leaves. A few years ago, my most valuable (and highest paid) employee informed me that his wife was having twins and would need to take time off to care for them. Without a social insurance pool I could never have afforded to offer these benefits, and would have undoubtedly been at risk of losing him to a larger company, that could have ably provided these benefits. However, because of the insurance system in place, I was able to offer him this benefit. If I were mandated to provide these benefits out of pocket, I would live in fear of the day that one of my valued employees got sick or injured. Instead, our state system means that I can trust my staff and I are covered, and even for a much more lengthy leave than the DC program proposes to offer.
Yes, this program involves a lot of money and work to get things started. But once it's running I'm sure that you will see that these costs are completely worth it, because this benefit is a huge investment in the businesses of your city and the people who work in them. I urge you to be brave and take this step - I know that when your program is running successfully, countless business owners will thank you for your leadership, and you'll look back and wonder what D.C. ever did without it.