Building Bridges 2017: The First Tradeswomen’s Delegation to India
Below are reports from the Laborers who traveled to India.
Edwina Patterson, Local 563, Minneapolis, MN:
I was selected to attend Building Bridges 2017: The First US Tradeswomen’s Delegation to India last month.
My participation was a life-changing, educational and humbling experience. I've never seen so much poverty and beauty in one place.
This was my first trip out of the country. While I was overwhelmed with so many aspects of how life is different in India, as a tradeswoman, I was most affected with the lack of shoes/boots and personal protective equipment for construction workers.
I so appreciated being extended this opportunity. I will carry the many women and children that I met in my heart, forever.
Please check out the blog entry Edwina submitted in January to the delegation’s website.
Marcus McClanahan, Local 1290, Kansas City, KS:
The trip to India was amazing. Our vision is to have an international network by and for women construction workers. The Indian Culture is very different than what we as Americans are used to. The traffic flows to the left and you hear a lot of honking horns but the people are nice. The vehicle's share the road with cows, bikes donkeys, tuk tuks (cabs) and people. There are 87,000 to 1 on toilet usage and India is second to China with population of people. The exchange has been truly life changing and looking forward to going back to continue what we have started.
Meet the LiUNA! Sisters Attending the Women’s Global Leadership Program
LWC is proud to announce three of our LiUNA! Sisters were selected to attend the AFL-CIO’s 2017 Women’s Global Leadership Program (WGLP)! WGLP is a four-day program in New York City that brings together women union and labor movement leaders and activists from across the United States to learn about the global economy and strengthen organizing and advocacy skills. Participants will develop tools and contacts to advance pro-worker, pro-women policies at the local, national and global level. They will also learn how to use their understanding of global issues to strengthen organizing campaigns that involve a multinational employer.
The training will happen in conjunction with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), a yearly meeting that bring together governments and human rights advocates from around the world to discuss key issues affecting women’s empowerment. CSW is perhaps the largest international gathering of women in the world, and participants will be able to attend panels and other events.
Meet our LiUNA! Sisters that will be attending:
Sonia Lozano, Public Service Employees Local 572, Camp Springs, MD
Sister Sonia Lozano began her career with the Laborers Local 572 began as a rank and file member translating for her coworkers in 2004. Her work ethic, selfless dedication and superb managerial skills quickly earned her the respect and recognition for greater responsibility giving her the opportunity to serve as the Office Manager. Subsequently, Sonia’s consistent dedication for growth and loyalty led to her assignment as the Assistant Business Manager. On May 2010, she became the first elected Latino Secretary Treasurer in Local 572.
Sister Lozano has also served as the:
- Delegate, Baltimore Washington Construction and Public Employees Laborers District Council Since 2008 and elected Executive Board Member in 2016
- District Council PAC Treasurer since 2013
- LIUNA Latino Caucus Board Member since 2012
- Election Officer, Commonweal of Virginia Since 2007
- Recording Secretary, Washington Metal Trades Council
- Assistant Business Manager since 2007
Educational Accomplishments include:
- Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration at The National Labor College (Magna Cum Laude), graduating class of 2014.
- Associate of Science degree in Business Administration at Northern Virginia Community College.
She is proud Union member, community leader, activist, military wife and mother of two children.
Judy Simpson, Local 773, Marion, Illinois
Sister Judy Simpson began her journey with LiUNA in 2003 when a co-worker approached her with the idea of organizing their workplace. Judy joined the organizing committee and within the year, the employees of Southern Illinois University Libraries won their organizing campaign. Their first contract was finalized in 2004 and she became a union member.
Before accepting the position of steward, Judy prepared herself by taking Labor Studies courses offered through the University of Illinois, Labor Education Program (LEP). She then became a Steward and a year later, Chief Steward. During her tenure as Chief Steward, she took her membership from barely 51% to 94%.
She has attended women’s conferences offered by the Southern & Central Illinois Laborers’ District Council and the Midwest Region. Other training came from the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference and the Midwest School for Working Women. In 2016 she won the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Alumna of the Year. Judy also sits on the board of the Illinois Labor History Society.
In 2014, Judy left her work at the library to take on a new challenge. She was hired by Local 773 as a Field Representative where she works with a large variety of members. Her groups included school bus drivers, county & municipal workers, factory workers, mental health providers, and of course librarians.
Edwina Patterson, Local 563, Minneapolis, MN
For 12 years Sister Edwina Patterson worked as a Nurse’s Assistant. In 2013, Edwina decided she could do better than “make ends meet,” so she joined the Laborers’ Apprenticeship Program and now works heavy highway and road construction making twice as much as she did as a Nurse’s Assistant. During her Apprenticeship, she received the Klein Tool Award for being an outstanding Apprentice. With only a few years under her belt as a Laborer, Edwina has quickly stepped up as a leader and a strong advocate for Unions. At the 2016 Women Build Nations Conference, she received the Emerging Tradeswomen Award. At the beginning of this year, Edwina was one of 12 Tradeswomen selected to participate in “Building Bridges 2017: The First U.S. Tradeswomen Delegation to India.” Sister Patterson was one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Edna Social Justice Award given by the Berger-Marks Foundation for her work advocating for more people of color and women in the Building Trades.
Edwina is also a core member of both the People of Color Union Members and MN Tradeswomen, she’s as a member of the National Tradeswomen Task Force and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Tomorrow is the big day! On September 27, 2016, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.
According to exit polls, 53 percent of voters in the 2012 elections were women, which means that women determined the outcome of the presidential election. So with that in mind, it is crucial to register unregistered women who understand the needs of working families.
CLUW members, here are actions you can take for National Voter Registration Day:
- Find an activity in your area – search via zip code, or contact your local chapter to see if they will be hosting a registration event themselves.
- Use our League of Women Voters Registration Tool available on sidebar of the CLUW website. With this tool, you can input your address to find information about polling locations, check your voter registration status, register to vote, and more.
- Contact your local elections office for voter registration forms and state-specific rules
- Post your voter registration drive to the Events Map
- MTV will be publicizing this map for National Voter Registration Day
- Spread the word about the amazing activities happening around the nation by using #VoterRegistrationDay
- You can find more social media shareables like the one below in the Partner Toolkit
Please make sure you document the activities you participate in – take photos with your cell phone, provide the names and location of those participating, include any organizations with whom you are partnering and send this information to: CLUW@CLUW.org with Voter Registration in the Subject Line.
Remember, every election year we’ve all heard people say that they couldn’t vote because they missed the deadline to register. Let’s make sure their registration is securely submitted long before the earliest state deadlines!
LiUNA Sisters Gather in Las Vegas, NV for National Convention
Sisters United! Check out this amazing picture of LiUNA Women attending the National Convention in Las Vegas, NV! Can you feel the power? Yes, you can!
The Berger-Marks Foundation is now accepting nominations through September 16th for its 2016 Edna Award for Social Justice and Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Award.
The 6th annual Edna Award, named after Edna Berger, the namesake of the Foundation and an early organizer at The Newspaper Guild-CWA, is a$10,000 award given to a young woman who has made significant contributions to social justice and whose leadership inspires social change. In addition to the winner, the Berger-Marks Foundation will award two other exceptional nominees with $1,000 Edna Awards of Distinction.
The 3rd annual Kate Mullany Award, named for Kate Mullany, an inspiring young laundry worker who organized one of the first women’s unions at just nineteen 150 years ago, is a $1,000 award that honors young women who have stood up for worker’s rights and organized their own workplaces in the face of strong opposition.
The Berger-Marks Foundation will be accepting nominations through midnight EST on Friday, September 16, 2016. All nominations must be made online, and all nominees should be 35 years or younger as of December 31, 2016. For more information about Berger-Marks, details on the awards and how to access the online-only nomination forms visit: http://www.bergermarks.org/home/awards/
You are encouraged to nominate young women from labor unions, women’s groups, workers’ rights groups or other areas of social justice for these prestigious awards. The awards will be presented at a reception in Washington, DC on February 9, 2017.
Every year, the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) sponsors four Women’s Summer Schools in different regions across the country. In 4-5 days, union women and activists learn through various workshops and classes how to strengthen their leadership skills and their knowledge of the U.S. labor movement.
This year, the summer schools will be taking place as follows (click on the name of the summer school to be directed to their website for more information):
- Midwest School for Women Workers: July 24-28, 2016, Indiana University.
- Southern School for Union Women: July 27-30, 2016, Florida International University.
- Northeast Summer School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations: July 30-August 3, 2016, Rutgers University. Pricing: $510 (double room), $590 (single room), $290 (commuter)
- Western Regional Summer Institute on Union Women: August 9-13, 2016, University of California Los Angeles. Pricing: $750 (single room), $550 (double room), $450 (commuters)
For the second year in a row, CLUW will be offering need-based scholarships of $500 (one per each UALE school) to help defray the costs of a participant to attend. Applicants must be a CLUW member or become a member by the time the application is submitted. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 3, 2016. For more information and to access the application form, please see CLUW’s website regarding UALE. More details about the summer schools will be posted on the CLUW website as they become available. We hope you consider attending.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) recently released a report entitled: “Pathways to Equity: Narrowing the Wage Gap by Improving Women’s Access to Good Middle-Skill Jobs.” The report addresses “sex segregation in middle-skill jobs, and how gender integration of good jobs could both reduce skill shortages and improve women’s economic security.”
Last week, UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies released a report entitled: “Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review.” The report focuses on the link between the lack of accountability for charter schools and how school discipline is applied to African American children and children with disabilities. The report found that that African American students “were four times as likely to be suspended from charter schools as white students” and that of the “5,250 charter schools studied, 235 suspended more than 50% of their enrolled students with disabilities.”
|April 12, 2016
||Next Steps for Progress on Equal Pay
By Jocelyn Frye
The principle of equal pay for equal work is a cornerstone of the nation’s commitment to equality, fairness, and ensuring that every worker has a fair chance to succeed in the workplace. In the public discourse about equal pay, many point to the gender wage gap—the gap between women’s and men’s average earnings—as the most visible illustration of pay inequality. The gap currently stands at 21 cents; women earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gap is even larger for women of color: African American women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by white men, while Native American women and Latinas earn only 59 cents and 55 cents, respectively. Asian American women earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by white men; however, that figure varies widely by subgroup—among Vietnamese women, for example, it is only 62 cents.
Fortunately, there are measures that policymakers can take to establish fair pay practices, combat pay discrimination, and close the wage gap. But to do so, they must have a clear understanding of the underlying problems and the solutions that could make a difference by improving workplace practices. This issue brief explains the difference between the wage gap and equal pay for equal work, discusses recent efforts to address both issues, and lays out priorities for policymakers.
AFL-CIO Survey's Working Women
Equal pay for equal work is a top priority for working women, according to a new AFL-CIO survey. Respondents included union and non-union members. The survey found that 46 percent of union members and 48 percent of non-union members saw equal pay as a priority among a list of 21 issues. Affordable health care, guaranteed health care for all, affordable higher education, and raising the minimum wage followed. Among the survey respondents, 59 percent identified as the primary breadwinner in the family. Health care costs, low wages and the cost of higher education and student loan debt topped the list among the barriers to economic stability. Read the full paper here.
Sonia Lozano Profiled by the AFL-CIO and LCLAA for Hispanic Heritage Month
In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, the AFL-CIO and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) are profiling past and present leaders who are working to protect and expand the rights of Hispanics, Latinos and working families. Sonia Lazano, Secretary-Treasurer LiUNA! Local 572, was selected by the AFL-CIO and LCLAA to be highlighted! Click here to view her profile. Congratulations Sonia!
LWC Annual Membership Meeting 2015
Annual Membership Meeting was held in San Diego, CA on August 11, 2015. The
meeting was attended by several Vice Presidents and Regional Managers, various
LWC Steering Committee Members as well as LWC members attending the LiUNA
Leadership Conference. General President
Terry O’Sullivan and General Secretary-Treasurer Armand Sabitoni also stopped
in to address those in attendance.
Discussion was held regarding the
success of the recent Women Build the Nation Conference, which was held in May,
2015 in Los Angeles. Many of the LiUNA
sisters attending the LWC meeting were present at the WBN Conference and they
shared what a great experience it was.
The Fundraising Committee reported that LWC T-Shirt sales will be
available as a tool for raising funds to attend the 2016 WBN
Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Chicago.
Dave Hickey gave a report on
political efforts being planned by LiUNA for the 2016 political cycle. As General
President O’Sullivan had reported to the leadership, in 2016, LiUNA will focus
on local politics. Given the state of
national politics, it is apparent that LiUNA members will benefit greatly from local
politicians that are labor friendly. Recently,
local politicians are having a far greater impact on the lives of our members
and it is important to elect politicians that will support working men and
women. Carol James noted that this will
be an area for sisters in LiUNA to make a difference. As each and every Local will need political activists
in 2016, this is an area where sisters will be able to use their connections
within their communities to advance the political efforts of LiUNA.
Patti Devlin reported that the AFL
CIO is proposing a survey on issues impacting women and women’s leadership
development . The last survey, “Ask a
Working Woman Survey”, was conducted in 2010.
Many LiUNA sisters participated in the project at that time. She also reported that federal funding may be
cut to WANTO (Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations). Members
were asked to spread the word to contact federal representatives to ensure that
federal funding remains intact. The LWC’s support of WANTO was also shared with
the LiUNA Minority Advancement Department and members of the African American
and Latino Caucuses were asked to support this effort.
Results of the
2015 Election of LWC Officers:
Co-Chair Diane Lewis
Recorder Nicole Hayes
Treasurer Cassandra Hammond
LWC Members and Local 1001 Help at Midnight Circus
LWC member Mac-Z Zurawski is President of the McKinley Park Advisory Council (Chicago) and needed volunteers for their Midnight Circus in the Park event. Mac-Z approached LiUNA! Local 1001’s new Women’s Committee for assistance. LiUNA Local 1001 stepped in to help with the event.
Pictured left to right: Chicago 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, LiUNA! Local 1001 Secretary-Treasurer Victor Roa and LWC Members Shawn Mahon and Mac-Z zurawski.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2015
Contact: Jennifer Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.785.5100
Unionized Women Earn More than Nonunionized Women in Every U.S. State
In 32 states, the union wage advantage is large enough to cover the costs of full-time child care for an infant in a center
Washington, DC—A new briefing paper released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. In addition, union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts in the state, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. The analysis also finds that the size of the union wage advantage is large enough in 32 states to cover the costs of full-time child care for an infant in a center.
Women’s share of union members has increased markedly in the last three decades, from 33.6 percent in 1984 to 45.5 percent in 2014. While men are more likely than women to be in labor unions or covered by a union contract in the United States as a whole (13.1 percent of men, compared with 11.9 percent of women), there are eight jurisdictions—California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Vermont—where women are more likely to be unionized than men. More than one in four female workers (25.7 percent) in New York are in a labor union or covered by a union contract. Nationally, public sector workers are five times more likely to belong to a union than private sector workers (35.7 percent, compared with 6.6 percent).
There are 25 “Right to Work” states, in which labor unions may operate but they cannot require employees, even those who would benefit from a contract negotiated by a union, to become members of the union or pay membership dues. Generally, the share of women who are union members or covered by a union contract are higher in states that do not have “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” states are associated with lower wages for all workers (both union and nonunion), especially women.
“Union representation brings with it greater pay transparency and helps ensure that employers set pay based on objective criteria, such as skill, effort, and responsibility,” said IWPR Study Director Ariane Hegewisch, co-author of the briefing paper. “Unfortunately, many women around the country are not able to experience this union advantage.”
Women who are represented by labor unions earn 88.7 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a considerably higher earnings ratio than the earnings ratio between all women and men in the United States (78.3 percent). Women of all major racial and ethnic groups experience a union wage advantage, but black and Hispanic women are particularly likely to gain from union representation. Hispanic women represented by labor unions have median weekly earnings that are 42.1 percent higher than those without union representation and black women’s earnings are 33.6 percent higher.
The union advantage extends beyond pay to cover benefits, such as retirement plans and health insurance. Women represented by a union are more likely to participate in a pension plan and receive health insurance benefits through their job than those who are not unionized. Approximately three in four unionized women (74.1 percent) have a pension plan, compared with only slightly more than four in ten (42.3 percent) of nonunion women. As of 2013, more than three in four unionized women (76.6 percent) had employer- or union-provided health insurance coverage, compared with only half (51.4 percent) of nonunion women.
“This research shows that it pays to be in a union, especially if you are a woman” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Not only do union women experience a much narrower gender wage gap with men than women overall, they also earn hundreds of dollars more per week than nonunion women, with greater access to critical benefits that can ensure their longterm financial security and well-being.”
The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.
Take Action Against the Cadillac Tax!
You may not have heard of the 40% benefits tax, also known as the CadillacTax but it’s a penalty built into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could affect your paycheck and health care benefits in 2018 if not sooner. It’s urgent that Congress repeal this tax because it could destroy the health and welfare funds of millions of workers, including you and your LIUNA brothers and sisters. Take action now, by clicking here.
No Funding for WANTO?
LiUNA! Women Caucus members you may have heard, funding for Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) has not been included in FY 2016 budget bills passed out of committee in either the House or the Senate. Because of this, we need to make sure each of our Senators and Representatives hear from us about how important this funding stream is for improving women's access to nontraditional jobs before the budget is finalized. If you'd like help, visit Wider Opportunities for Women’s website to access their WANTO advocacy tool kit.
7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap
SOURCE: AP/Ted S. Warren
Wendy Harrison, a waitress at the Icon Grill in Seattle, carries food to a table as she works during lunchtime.
- Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.
- Download the report: PDF
- Read it in your browser: Scribd
See also: Video: Why Women’s Economic Security Matters for All
The Census Bureau reported this week that the gender wage gap between full-time, year-round working men and women in 2013 remained virtually unchanged, with women earning 78 percent of what men earn. The 1 percent increase from 2012 is not statistically significant, and there has been no real movement in the gender wage gap since 2007. While working women have made great strides since 1967, when they earned only 58 percent of what men earned for full-time, year-round work, there is still a long way to go before true pay equity is achieved.
This means that, although women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, dollar for dollar they continue to earn, on average, 22 percent less than their male counterparts, with Latinas and African American women experiencing the sharpest pay disparities compared to white men. There are a number of factors that contribute to the pay gap, including where women work, differences in hours worked, and education differences. But there is also a portion of the pay gap that is unexplained; researchers have estimated that as much as 10 percent to 40 percent of the gender wage gap cannot be explained even when taking into account gendered differences between the occupations, educations, and work histories of men and women.
Closing the gap will require multifaceted solutions that together help ensure that the work women perform is valued fairly, that women are not penalized unfairly for their caregiving responsibilities, and that there is greater transparency in workplace pay practices. Here are seven steps we can take that could make a difference.
1. Raise the minimum wage
Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and estimates show that differences between women’s and men’s occupations could account for nearly one-half of the gender wage gap. Raising the minimum wage will help hardworking women better support their families. While nearly two-thirds of mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families, women made up approximately two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in 2012. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which means someone working full time, year round earns only $15,080 a year. That is below the poverty threshold for any family with children and not far above the poverty line for a single person. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would boost wages for about 15 million women and help close the gender wage gap.
2. Raise the tipped minimum wage
The gender wage gap is particularly prominent among tipped workers. The federal tipped minimum wage, which hasn’t been changed since 1991, only pays workers $2.13 per hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, women make up two-thirds of tipped workers and are 70 percent of food servers and bartenders, occupations that comprise more than half of the tipped workforce. Tipped workers have a higher poverty rate than non-tipped workers, and 46 percent rely on government assistance to make ends meet.
As the burden of tipped-wage poverty falls primarily on women and their families, raising the tipped minimum wage could make a real difference in decreasing the gender pay gap. Recent proposals advocate raising the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the minimum wage to ensure that the majority of a worker’s income is coming from his or her employer, instead of from tips.
3. Support fair scheduling practices
Women, especially women of color, are more likely to work in low-wage jobs and often have rigid, unpredictable schedules that can change with little notice, making it difficult for working parents—especially mothers—to anticipate their schedules and arrange for child care. These workers risk losing their job because they lack the flexibility to alter their schedules when they need to take their child to the dentist or pick up a sick child from school—tasks that are more likely to fall to mothers than fathers. Legislation has been passed in Vermont and San Francisco in the past year that provides workers with a “right to request,” allowing them to ask for greater flexibility or scheduling predictability from their employer without jeopardizing their job. Being able to keep a job is essential to closing the gender pay gap.
4. Support pay transparency
When women are not able to discuss their salaries with their colleagues, they often cannot tell when they are making less than their male colleagues for doing the same job. The Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce pay secrecy, give women better tools to address pay discrimination, and make it more difficult for companies to pay male workers more than female workers—an important tool in combatting the gender wage gap.
5. Invest in affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education
Each day, 11 million children spend time in the care of someone other than a parent. Among children under age 6, 65 percent either live with only a single parent who works or two parents who both work. For parents of young children, particularly those who are low-income, the lack of affordable, high-quality early childhood programs can prevent working parents from ensuring that their families are cared for while they fulfill the demands of their jobs and can inhibit their long-term success. Furthermore, child care costed more than median rent in every state in 2012, yet access to reliable child care is a requirement for working parents to maintain employment.
Legislation such as the proposed Strong Start for America’s Children Act invests in high-quality and sustainable early learning environments for young children, working families, and the future of our country. Investing in affordable, high-quality child care creates long-lasting structures that support both working parents and children, increasing women’s ability to keep a job, excel in the workforce, and lower the gender wage gap.
6. Pass paid sick days legislation
Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Almost 40 million U.S. workers, or about 40 percent of the private-sector workforce, do not have access to any paid sick days. For part-time workers, that figure climbs to 73 percent. As a result, these employees often must go to work sick, send their sick children to school, or leave their sick children at home alone because they fear they will be reprimanded or fired for missing work. A 2012 poll found that one-third of parents of young children report that they will experience negative job consequences if they have to miss work to stay home with a sick child. Paid sick days would help close the gender wage gap by ensuring that women, who most often care for sick family members, would not lose pay or their jobs just because they or their child fell ill.
If employees must take unpaid leave from work when they fall ill, the loss of wages can take a toll. The strain is most acutely felt by low-income workers, most of whom are women; these workers are also the least likely group to have access to paid sick days. Eleven cities and two states across the country have recognized that this is bad for workers, bad for business, and bad for public health and have thus taken the lead in pushing legislation to guarantee paid sick days for workers through active campaigns and bills at the state and municipal levels. One such bill, the Healthy Families Act, would create a national standard by allowing workers to earn sick leave regardless of where they live.
7. Pass a national paid family and medical leave insurance program
Because caregiving responsibilities most often fall to women and mothers, women are more likely to have to leave the paid labor force to provide family care. Furthermore, working women can be targeted for discrimination and denied job opportunities altogether because of negative stereotypes about their caregiving roles—stereotypes that men are less likely to face. According to estimates, slightly more than 10 percent of the gender wage gap is due to women spending less time in the labor force than men, often stemming from these disproportionate family care responsibilities. Access to paid leave has been proven to shorten time away from work and facilitate re-entry into the workforce and makes it more likely that women will return to work, return to their previous employer, and return with the same or higher wages, all of which can help to close the wage gap. And when gender-neutral paid family leave is offered, men are more likely to take it, which reduces stigma and caregiving penalties for workers.
A national paid family and medical leave insurance program would provide wage replacement to working women—and men—when they must take time off to care for their families, bolstering families’ economic security. Paid leave would help reduce the gaps in work histories, which women are more likely to experience, that contribute to the wage gap and affect women’s opportunities to rise through the ranks. The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee workers paid maternity leave after the birth or adoption of a child. In fact, only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have implemented state-level paid family leave programs, and a national system such as that proposed in the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, would help decrease the impact of the gender wage gap by supporting the vital work of caregivers and reinforcing families’ economic security.
The seven actions outlined here offer concrete opportunities to reduce the gender wage gap in the United States. Together, they can help further the cultural and structural change that will bring us closer to making the 22 percent wage gap a thing of the past.
Sarah Jane Glynn is the Associate Director for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Milia Fisher is a Research Assistant with the Women’s Initiative at the Center. Emily Baxter is a Research Assistant for the Economic Policy team at the Center.
Remembering 9/11 with Vasilka Benn-Williams