Petition Closed
Petitioning Presidential Debate Moderator Jim Lehrer

Ask presidential candidates about family leave insurance and sick time

In today’s economy, millions of American families face financial hardship – or even the loss of their jobs – because they don’t have access to paid family leave or paid sick time.

As a student at The University of Denver, I’m not just thinking about classes – I’m also thinking about the job I’ll get after I graduate and what kind of flexibility it will allow me if I need time to care for a loved one.  

When I was three years old, I had a stroke.  My Mom was an hourly employee and had to take a ton of time off work to take care of me.  Very quickly, she used up the little paid time off she had, and she had to take the leave unpaid. She was worried about not making money, and without protection from the Family and Medical Leave Act, which had not yet been passed, she was worried her employer would even let her go. 

My mom has told me how she was forced to worry about our family’s finances at a time when I was still in the hospital recovering.  Hard-working Americans like my mom shouldn’t be forced to deal with this kind of financial strain when they are caring for sick loved ones. I want our next president to address this problem by supporting paid family leave and paid sick days laws. 

That’s why I started a petition on asking Jim Lehrer, host of the October 3 presidential debate on our campus, to question President Obama and Governor Romney about paid sick days and family leave insurance policies.  No one should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love because they don’t have access to affordable leave. Will you join me in signing this petition to Mr. Lehrer? 

My mom is not alone. Today, more than 44 million hard-working people do not have access to a single paid sick day.  That means that when they or their family members get sick, they are forced to choose between their family’s financial security and their health.  And for too many, taking time off even costs them their job.

 The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act was a great step forward, but half the workforce still isn’t covered. And nearly three million eligible workers each year who need leave to care for their health or the health of a loved one do not take it because they cannot afford to take time off without pay.

Presidential candidates can’t talk about strengthening our economy without talking about putting into place these policies that working families need to keep their jobs and pay the bills.

Please sign my petition asking Jim Lehrer to question presidential candidates about their positions on these policies that all hard-working moms, dads and young people like me need to get and keep a good job. 

Thank you,

Jessica Smith



Letter to
Presidential Debate Moderator Jim Lehrer
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Jim Lehrer.

As students getting ready to graduate, join the workforce and start families, we are encouraged to hear the candidates discuss the importance of the work mothers do every day.

In an economy where most families need two incomes to stay afloat, we want to know where each candidate stands on policies like family leave insurance, which enables mothers AND fathers to care for newborns without losing their jobs or their pay, and earned sick time, which allows working parents to take care of their kids when they come down with everyday colds and flu without fear of losing their job or a paycheck.

Please, Mr. Lehrer, ask the candidates about their positions on these important economic and family issues during the debate.


Jessica Smith started this petition with a single signature, and now has 4,681 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.