'Paid Leave For All' bus tour stops in Norfolk

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 19:45:25-04

NORFOLK, Va. - When she wasn't bumping elbows with elected leaders, Gabby Aldea spent her days in and out of the hospital.

"It's like you're fighting for air constantly. Fight or flight - you're in fight or flight all the time," said her mother, Chrischa Ives.

For years, Ives was torn between earning a paycheck and taking care of her daughter.

"[On job interviews for part time work] anytime I mentioned there would be days, maybe some times a week, that she would be in the hospital and I would need to be with her and on the spot, I wouldn't get hired," she said. "I had to choose between staying home with her or going into work. Obviously, I had to choose to go to work, and since she's passed, that's time I'm not going to ever get back with her."

Gabby died unexpectedly in December, and now Ives is joining the cross-country fight to get paid leave for all.

The Paid Leave For All bus tour stopped at Harbor Park in Norfolk on Thursday. Representative Bobby Scott joined City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, Kristina Hagen of The Virginia Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, Ives, Brent McKenzie and Paid Leave for All’s director, Dawn Huckelbridge.

"You hear about policies and sometimes you wonder, 'What does this have to do with me? What does this have to do with my family?'" said Huckelbridge.

If you have a child or a family member gets sick, for example, then it could have a lot to do with you. Legislation would give people paid family and medical leave.

"It's very similar to unemployment insurance. There are two different proposals: One would be small pennies on the dollar where the employer and employee pay into it, and the current proposal that Congress is considering would actually come out of the general fund, so there would be no payment whatsoever for the small businesses," said McClellan.

The campaign is visiting 14 cities around the United States, including Norfolk and Richmond, to call on lawmakers to pass a national paid leave policy.

Related: Biden, families call for national paid family leave, but will it get through Congress?

"We need to join the rest of the world so people won't have to choose between their jobs and their families," said Rep. Scott.

An advocate then and even now, in Gabby's words, her mother said change comes when you, "Hold your elected officials accountable. Call them, email them. You have to apply that pressure."