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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities in access to basic health benefits like paid family and medical leave, paid sick time, and paid vacation. During the pandemic, these benefits were especially important: allowing workers to take time off to recover from the virus, care for a sick family member, or receive the vaccine without worrying about losing income.

Union membership provides improved access to critical benefits like paid leave, along with better pay, health insurance, and pensions. For women, this advantage is especially helpful for weathering crises like COVID-19 and the resulting “she-cession.”

As the COVID-19 crisis made clear, paid leave is crucial for all American workers and their families. Unions represent just one pathway to these important benefits in the absence of a federal paid leave program.