U cosponsors conference on family issues

Charlie Saeger

President Bill Clinton proposed two new measures to make the workplace more family friendly Monday at a conference cosponsored by the University’s Children, Youth and Family Consortium.
Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper have hosted the event since it was first held five years ago. The consortium and the Tennessee Legislature’s Select Committee on Children and Youth cosponsored this year’s event, which was held in Nashville.
At the conference, entitled “Family Re-Union V: Family and Work,” Clinton proposed an extension of his Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. He wants to grant 24 hours a year of flextime to employees of firms that have 50 or more workers. This would allow parents to take time off work for things such as attending parent-teacher conferences or taking children to the doctor.
Clinton also proposed giving employees choices in how they are rewarded by employers for overtime work. Employers are now required by law to pay employees time-and-a-half for overtime work. Clinton wants employees to have the option of taking their overtime benefits in extra vacation time. Employees could then receive an extra hour-and-a-half of vacation time for every hour of overtime they worked.
At his monthly media briefing Monday, University President Nils Hasselmo said the consortium’s role in organizing the conference is just one example of how the University uses its resources well in outreach. “We do have some real national leaders in (family and work) on our faculty,” he said.
Dr. Martha Erickson, director of the Children, Youth and Family Consortium, said past conferences have led to action such as a proposed television rating system and legislation encouraging the development of V-chips, technology that would allow parents to electronically censor television programs in their households.
In her opening remarks, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said problems facing the family include parents having less time to spend with their children and mothers enduring too much stress.
The president and vice president hosted a panel of parents and business leaders. One panel member, Deloris Jordan, said several people have asked her how she raised her son, Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan. Jordan said she replies that parenting has “no quick fix. It’s hard work.”