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January 18, 2022

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Titus says universal leave integral part of human infrastructure bill


Ting Shen / AP

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., speaks during the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on the administration foreign policy priorities on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Washington.

Peter Frigeri has seen a lot as a business owner in the Las Vegas Valley. 

The owner of two small companies — Gaia Flowers in the Arts District and Expo Ease, a hospitality company — Frigeri has done business through the coronavirus pandemic, the Great Recession and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Each of those challenges illustrate why his employees and other workers should be entitled to paid leave, Frigeri said.

Frigeri spoke this morning at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 headquarters to advocate for universal paid family and sick leave, a priority in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” plan introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Assemblywoman Cecelia Gonzalez, Dr. Randi Lampert of the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Jim Sullivan, the union’s political director.

“It’s not just the employee’s problem. It’s the small business owner’s problem,” Frigeri said. “We face these things every day.”

The event was hosted by the group Paid Leave for All and was part of a nationwide bus tour to call on lawmakers to pass a national paid leave policy.

Campaign director Dawn Huckelbridge said the United States is one of the only developed countries that doesn’t provide paid leave for workers.

“And that was a crisis long before COVID,” she said.

Titus said there is “nothing more important” than the paid leave provision in the human infrastructure plan because it affects so many aspects of everyday life.

Titus also noted the pandemic has had steep consequences for Las Vegas. Many frontline workers had to choose between working and staying home with their children, she said.

Titus said the family leave plan is important for workers and employers.

“Business thrives when their employees do well,” she said.

The $3.5 trillion bill is separate from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate earlier this week focused on roads, airports and water infrastructure. This one aims to address issues such as climate change, universal pre-K education and expanded access to health care.

Titus said it will likely need to be passed through the Senate’s budget reconciliation process, which would bypass the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Regardless, Titus said congressional Democrats will only advance the bills if they are passed together.

“We’re going to have to be creative,” Titus said of fitting measures of the bill to fit under reconciliation. “I think we’re smart enough to figure out how to show all these policies I talked about affect the budget.”