America’s workforce cares very deeply about the work-life positions of political candidates. Shortly after Delaware’s incumbent senator was named Democratic VP-nominee, I posted on Joe Biden’s track record on work-life issues affecting employers. And now that the Republican candidate has been announced, what does Sarah Palin, Biden’s republican counterpart, have to say?
We know that, like Biden, her personal life has forced her to experience first-hand work-life balance struggles. Some might say she’s managed the ultimate juggler, rising to governor, and potential Vice President, all while simultaneously raising a family of five, including an infant with Downs’ Syndrome. The Wall Street Journal noted that she’s “been portrayed as the very model of a working mother: She answers her BlackBerry while pumping breast milk for her infant; keeps a playpen by her desk; and manages a state while cooking caribou hot dogs for her family.”
But not all reports have portrayed her in such a positive light. Many have questioned her choices for returning back to work 3 days’ after the birth of her youngest. That scrutiny has only intensified following the reports that Palin’s 17-year old daughter is 5 months’ pregnant. There has been much questioning of whether she’s balancing her government and family duties well, in light of the recent news she’s soon to be a grandmother. Interestingly, Biden has been widely hailed as the ultimate family man for making some very similar choices: to continue his political career in spite of family struggles and tragedies.
Beyond her personal life, however, little can be found on her position on relevant issues or pending legislation. As reported by the Wall Street Journal blog, “The Juggle,” Palin’s official Web site offers little information on her position on work-life balance issues, nor did an issues statement compiled during her gubernatorial campaign by the Anchorage Daily News.
An Associated Press article noted Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s statement that Ms. Palin, like Mr. McCain, opposes the Fair Pay Restoration Act (Senate version of the House Bill known as Ledbetter Fair Pay Act). That failed Senate bill would have reversed a Supreme Court ruling that a woman had only 180 days to file a formal complaint of gender-based wage discrimination. The McCain campaign told the AP that Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin support equal pay for women but want the 180-day filing period to remain in place.
As her role in the campaign evolves, I’ll be listening carefully to hear her position on other work-life issues such as: extended and/or paid FMLA leave, the EEOC’s Guidance on Caregiver Discrimination, and flexible leave polices, for starters.