A Breakthrough for Families of the '90s

I read with pleasure the editorial "Family Leave - at Last," Feb. 8. President Clinton's approval of 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave will hopefully be the beginning of legislation that leads to greater laws.

While the Family and Medical Leave Act breaks the eight-year deadlock during the Reagan-Bush years, more must be done. The law's greatest problem is that it exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Small business must be protected, but the conventional definition of a small business is an establishment with 16 employees or fewer. Hopefully, members of Congress will narrow the law's exemption policy.

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A CBS/New York Times poll shows that approximately 46 percent of the work force is women. The poll also shows that 60 percent of mothers with children under 6 years old work, while 75 percent of mothers with children ages 6 to 17 years old hold jobs. By making the leave unpaid, employers will make little sacrifice. It is time for the work place to progress and to help the families of the '90s. Chris Seper, Charleston, Ill. The widening gap

Your editorial "The Republican's Role," Feb. 19, raises the question: What about capping cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for military officer pensions? The national debt costs taxpayers $200 billion a year in interest, but that must change. The question is not what will the Republicans do, but when will Americans wake up to the fact that the annual payment of a percentage increase to all eligible program recipients must cease and a flat across-the-board identical minimum payment to persons receiving l ess than $50,000 be substituted.

Over the years, the annual COLA has done nothing but widen the gap and compound the differences between the rich and the poor. The percentage system is out of control and must be eliminated. Over the years you have singled out the military as the big benefactor of this system and have ignored the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government - many of whom retire at full pay and with other benefits. This exacerbates the present situation and further contributes to the deficit that we ar e now being asked to resolve. Melvin W. McLaughlin, Randolph, Vt.

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