Presidential Campaigns Address Work Life Policy Issues In First Ever Discussions with Business Leaders

October 10, 2008

Notes of September calls released by Families and Work Institute

New York, NY – In conjunction with the annual National Work & Family Month, Families and Work Institute (FWI) released today full notes from conference calls it convened in September with policy leaders from the two Presidential campaigns.  Drawing on questions posed by business leaders in the work life field collected through FWI’s Corporate Leadership Circle, the calls were moderated by FWI president and co-founder Ellen Galinsky, and listened to by business and community leaders around the country.

The calls focused on how, if elected, the two candidates would address work life issues ranging from sick leave to health care to early education and child care. Senator Obama’s campaign was represented on a September 16th call by Karen Kornbluh, Policy Director to U.S. Senator Obama.  Senator McCain’s campaign was represented on September 24th by McCain policy advisors Wendy Grubbs, Jay Khosla, and John Bash.

The notes from the calls and Ellen Galinsky’s background call to action, Work Life: Moving from the Personal to the Political, are available at

“We consider it very significant that both campaigns have taken work life issues seriously,” said Ellen Galinsky.  “This is the first everPresidential campaign in which both nominees have formally articulated their positions in this arena.  Despite the fact that thousands of working families asked that these questions be posed in the national debates, these requests have been ignored. These Institute calls provide working families a welcome opportunity to hear how the candidates would address their issues.  While much has been written about how the candidates manage their own work and family lives, these calls move us from their personal to their policy stands on these issues.”

Among the questions addressed by the campaigns during the calls were:

  • What are the work and family life issues the candidate feels are most important to address?
  • What is the candidate’s position on workplace flexibility? What are the roles of the government, employers and employees in providing workplace flexibility?
  • Should the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) be changed? In what ways? Should it be paid? By whom? Should sick leave be established and paid? By whom and for whom?
  • How would the candidate address issues of the time famine that so many employees experience?
  • How does each candidate plan to address the impact of the gas crisis on commuting employees?
  • How can work life issues help address the spiraling cost of health care?
  • What would each candidate do to help the low-wage working family? And how would your candidate address narrowing the gap between men and women’s pay for all workers, especially for older workers?
  • What is the candidate’s position on education and care for the first three years of life for those families who need and want to work- and on universal pre-K?  What proposals does each candidate have for after-school care?
  • What if anything, does either party plan to do to support the 45% of employees taking care of our growing elderly population?

Established by U.S. Senate Resolution in 2003, National Work & Family Life Month each October provides annual recognition of the importance of employer-sponsored work life programs in attracting, motivating and retaining top talent.
Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. As a preeminent think-tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom, provides insight and knowledge, and inspires and leads to change. Our purpose is to create research to live by. Since the Institute was founded in 1989, its work has focused in three major areas: the workforce/workplace, youth and early childhood. For more information, visit

The Corporate Leadership Circle offers a unique opportunity for leadership companies to stay ahead of the curve on issues that relate to the changing workforce, family, and community through conference calls, our annual Briefing, media and PR alerts, discounted conferences and publications, “Cluster Calls,” and “Thought Leader Briefs.”


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