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As the Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 25, the Country Urgently Needs a National Paid Leave Plan

 Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Twenty-five years ago today, our nation took a major step toward a more equitable and family friendly future when the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became law. It was the country’s first national law ever to recognize the challenges working people face when children are born or adopted, or serious health issues arise. The FMLA advanced women’s equality in the workplace, but it was only a first step. Today, with the country in the midst of another historic conversation about gender equality, paid leave is essential to creating the kind of lasting change women, families, businesses and the next generation need.

As a nation, we have reached an extraordinary moment of consensus in the effort to win paid family and medical leave for all. There is now broad and growing agreement among voters, scholars, lawmakers and business leaders, across political parties and ideologies, that we need a national paid leave plan. But the details matter tremendously and any national plan we adopt must be affordable, sustainable and inclusive. There is a strong body of evidence from the private sector and successful state programs that demonstrates what works.

We must not be fooled by half-measures or fake proposals that ignore the research and policy testing of the past two decades. Proposals that rely on scarce resources and threaten longstanding programs like unemployment insurance or existing Social Security funds, without providing new revenue, will do more harm than good. So will proposals that createfalse incentives for employers to offer paid leave, fail to provide meaningful wage replacement or exclude the key reasons people need leave – such as for their own serious health issues or those of a loved one.

It is past time for Congress to fulfill the promise of the FMLA by passing a national paid family and medical leave plan. But not just any plan will do. Lawmakers should consider the evidence and support the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, the leading paid leave proposal in Congress. It would create a paid family and medical leave insurance fund, similar to those working well in states, that would make paid leave available to all working people for the full range of serious personal and family caregiving needs people have throughout their lives.

As the organization that drafted and led the fight for the FMLA, we are proud of how it has transformed our nation’s workplaces and culture – and we are more committed than ever to helping the country take the next step. A strong national coalition has been driving the movement for paid leave, and we won’t rest until every working person in this country has access to paid family and medical leave.”

 


Find demographic data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that demonstrate the need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people for the full range of care needs at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

Paid Family Leave: Preventative Insurance for New Hampshire Workers

By Nikki Casey

Nikki Casey speaking at a Rights and Democracy Rally on Labor Day 2018

It’s time for New Hampshire to allow for a simple, employee-funded insurance program to allow workers to take paid time off to care for newborn children, recover from illness or injuries, take care of their ailing parents, or recover from substance misuse disorders.

On Wednesday the New Hampshire House is scheduled to vote on HB 628, which would establish a Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program for Granite State workers.

How does it work? Workers would pay .67 percent of their salary into the fund and after six months they will be eligible for six weeks of paid leave to deal with medical emergencies.For someone making $50,000 per year that would amount to $6.70 per week.

People who object to participation are given the opportunity to opt out. Additionally, the program is funded by employee contributions; employers would not be required to contribute anything.

We know that 82 percent of New Hampshire residents favor establishing a Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program. Why? Because we all know someone who wrestled with the burden of caring for a parent, a child, or themselves while fearing they would lose their job if they took off the time that was truly needed.

These friend and neighbors are not alone. Only 11 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family leave through an employer, and fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave. Thousands of New Hampshire workers continue to face severe challenges without paid time off to care for their newborn children, recover from illness or injuries, take care of their ailing parents, or recover from substance misuse disorders.

As someone who works with people recovering from substance abuse and being in recovery from drugs and alcohol myself, I see Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance as one more tool we can use to help us combat the opioid crisis.

I struggled with my own battle with addiction and was too afraid to ask for help in fear of getting fired and loosing my insurance. I kept my battles to myself and progressively got worse. I ended up losing my job due to my alcoholism. I was then without a job, insurance, and without a clue on how to seek support. I was out of work for six months due to the extensive amount of treatment I needed from hospitalization, to crisis centers, rehab and transitional living. I eventually got myself back on my feet but much of that could have been avoided if I knew I was able to take time off work to take care of my mental health and substance misuse.

I now work in a recovery resource center where I see my clients battle every day trying to navigate their health, jobs, home, and family. There is a huge fear of trying to seek help out of fear of what their employer will do. For many people trying to get help for their substance use disorder a 28-day program is needed. For the many of them with jobs they are unable to take that time off. Because of the nature of substance use disorder, it often comes with other health related issues. Health care issues that require extensive treatment that would require time away from work.

The more barriers we create for people with substance use disorder the harder it is for them in their recovery. Which creates a ripple effect. A need to be out of work for 28 days could turn into a battle of needing intensive help for six months, like in my case. That puts a strain on that person, employment the economy, families, and communities.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance is painfully logical, because the more an individual struggles on a personal level the more that struggle creeps into the rest of society. This bill, in my eyes, is one more preventative measure we need to make our communities stronger.

 

Nikki Casey lives in Manchester and works as a Director at Revive Recovery.

New Hampshire In Urgent Need Of National Paid Family Leave Program

 A National Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan Could Reduce by 83 Percent* the Number of New Hampshire Families Facing Economic Insecurity When They Need Time to Care

An analysis of demographic data in New Hampshire released today reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons. The release kicks off a series of nationwide activities marking next Monday’s 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides unpaid leave. Across the country, working people, businesses, lawmakers, advocates and others will come together on the ground and online to celebrate the law’s progress, recognize state and private sector innovations and call for a national paid family and medical leave policy that advances the movement for more equitable and family friendly workplaces.

The new analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full set of findings for New Hampshire is available here. Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

“Twenty-five years after the FMLA was signed into law, it is past time to take the next step by ensuring paid leave for all working people,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “The FMLA has transformed our workplaces and culture in tremendously positive ways, but these data show that unpaid leave is inaccessible for too many people. Working people and families are caught between the demands of their jobs and their families, and as a result, our economy and businesses are not reaching their full potential.”

The New Hampshire analysis sheds light on why the failure of policymakers and the private sector to guarantee paid family and medical leave is causing people in the state to experience conflicts between their jobs and their families. For example, women, and especially women of color, are key breadwinners for their families while also continuing to be primary caregivers. People already have significant family and medical care needs that are increasing as the workforce ages. And the consequences for the economic well-being of families and the state can be serious when people are not able to hold paying jobs while providing and receiving critical care. Specifically:

  • In 75 percent of New Hampshire households with children – more than 180,000 homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of New Hampshire’s population age 65 and older will grow by nearly 45 percent;
  • One person dies every day from a drug overdose in New Hampshire;
  • In New Hampshire, there is a 10-percentage point gap in labor force participation between men and women; and
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in New Hampshire facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 83 percent.

Nationally, the FMLA guarantees unpaid leave, but it is inaccessible to 58 percent of workers in New Hampshire because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. Just 15 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, as of Jan. 1, New York, have paid family leave insurance programs in place. Washington state and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures that have not yet taken effect. Research shows that existing programs are working well and lawmakers in other states continue to use them as models as they consider programs of their own.

“The recent progress on a bipartisan proposal to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program shows that lawmakers are listening to the majority of New Hampshire residents who know that better workplace policies will help families, businesses and our economy,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy in New Hampshire. “The future of our state depends on New Hampshire being an attractive place to live, work and raise a family – access to paid leave is a critical resource for both employees and businesses that will help drive our economy forward.”

“We now have a powerful body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid family and medical leave, the urgent need for it, and the key components of a meaningful policy that would promote gender and economic equality, strengthen businesses and our economy, and promote the culture change we need,” explained Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership. “Lawmakers who advance strong paid leave proposals demonstrate that they understand their constituents’ needs and the value we all place on knowing we can care for our loved ones without risking our jobs. Voters’ support for a strong national paid family and medical leave law cuts across parties and ideologies, and large and small companies say they support a national paid leave plan too. It is past time for all lawmakers to show the same interest in real policy solutions.”

New Hampshire lawmakers are currently considering a paid family and medical leave proposal for the state. Federally, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Rep. DeLauro (D – Conn.), is the leading paid family and medical leave proposal in Congress. Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter are co-sponsors of the legislation. The FAMILY Act would create a national insurance program, similar to those in the states, that would be funded through small employer and employee contributions of 0.2 percent each (less than $1.50 per week each for a typical worker). It would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious family or medical reasons while receiving a portion of their pay.

The National Partnership’s reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are available here. They were released in advance of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the FMLA, which is Feb. 5. To celebrate the day and advance the movement for paid leave, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations is joining with businesses, state and local lawmakers, and working people across the country to call for a national paid family and medical leave law like the FAMILY Act. Supporters will be sending messages to Congress, hosting events, sharing stories with the media and their networks, and using #FMLA25 and #PaidLeaveMeans on social media.

For more information on paid family and medical leave, including details on existing laws, a summary of recent employer policy announcements, a collection of fact sheets and the latest research on the impact of paid leave policies, visit NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeave.

 

*Figure calculated using new data released by Brandeis University’s diversitydatakids.org.

Governor Hassan Participates in Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy Forum

 Hassan Outlines Priorities to Help the Middle Class Grow and Thrive hassan-at-cffe-forum1MANCHESTER –  Today, Governor Maggie Hassan participated in a forum hosted by the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, highlighting her commitment to expanding economic opportunity for all hard-working Granite State families. 

“I’m proud of the steps we have taken here in New Hampshire to lay the foundation for inclusive economic growth and to support a thriving middle class,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “To meet the progress we are making here at home, my Innovate NH 2.0 economic plan outlines the steps I will take to Washington to ensure that all hard-working families have the chance to get ahead and stay ahead. In the Senate, I will fight for priorities to help middle class families make ends meet, including providing a $1,000 tax cut for middle class families, helping families afford child care, and expanding paid family leave.”

hassan-at-cffe-forum2As Governor, Maggie Hassan has worked to increase economic opportunity for hard-working families including by expanding access to health coverage for over 50,000 Granite Staters, signing the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act to help ensure that everyone earns equal pay for equal work, and fighting to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage. And under Governor Hassan’s leadership, New Hampshire has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, with more people working than at any point in state history.

In her Innovate NH 2.0 economic plan, Governor Hassan outlined the priorities she will take to the Senate to foster business innovation and expand middle class opportunity. As Senator, Maggie will fight to end tax breaks for special interests so that we can help ease the tax burden on the middle class. She will also continue fighting to raise the minimum wage, help families afford child care, expand paid family leave, and ensure equal pay for equal work.

Sununu Says He Supports Paid Family Leave But Does He Provide It To His Employees?

Concord, N.H. – At last night’s NH1 debate, Chris Sununu declared that he will “absolutely” support a paid family and medical leave program for all New Hampshire citizens should he be elected governor. 

It raises the question: Does Chris Sununu provide paid family and medical leave for his own employees at Waterville Valley Resort?

Today former NHDP Chair Kathy Sullivan called on Chris Sununu to disclose Waterville Valley’s paid family leave policy to see whether he is practicing what he’s preaching.

Former NHDP Chair Kathy Sullivan:

Today we are calling on Chris Sununu to disclose information on Waterville Valley’s paid family and medical leave program…if it even exists.

Last night at the NH1 debate, Chris Sununu was asked by a Portsmouth constituent, “Will you support a paid family and medical leave program for all NH citizens?”

Sununu said, “Yes. Absolutely.” He said, “when you’re looking at paid family medical leave, there’s even a broader issue we have to look at. We have a lot of folks in our state that just don’t have the flexibility or the time to give to their families during some of the most critical times in their lives. So we have to find ways to support them.”

I have to say I agree with Councilor Sununu on this. We should support a paid family and medical leave program for New Hampshire. Families should never have to choose between caring for their loved ones during serious medical issues, or having to leave or potentially lose their jobs and subject themselves to uneconomic hardship and uncertainty.

In the United States, and here in the Granite State, we have tremendous room to grow. Because according to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 12% of American workers have the option to receive paid family leave from their employers. And sadly, as is all too common, it’s workers who need it the most who receive it the least. Only 5 percent of workers in the lowest quartile of our workforce have access to paid family leave.

Which brings us back to Chris Sununu. Chris Sununu’s poor treatment of workers is not secret. It’s been reported time and again that he has slashed his workers’ hours to avoid providing them healthcare. And just last night he said that raising the minimum wage one dollar would affect 67% of his employees. That means that two thirds of his workers make less than $8.25 per hour—not exactly a livable wage.

Given Chris’ poor track record on workers’ issues, it is hard to believe that he is providing paid family medical leave for ALL his workers. It is simply not consistent with his attitude and actions towards working families.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that since Chris Sununu supports providing paid family leave to ALL New Hampshire citizens, he’s already doing it for every single one of his workers. After all, that would be consistent with the policy position he advocated so forcefully last night.

Therefore, I am calling on Chris Sununu to release Waterville Valley’s paid family leave policy. Chris should provide documentation proving that he offer paid family leave to all his employees, just as he would offer it to all New Hampshire Citizens. If he can’t, it will raise serious questions about whether he truly believes in paid family leave, or if he was simply taking a convenient position that he has no intention of implementing.

Rep. Mary Stuart Gile files for Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance

Concord – Today, Rep. Mary Stuart Gile filed a legislative service request for paid family and medical leave insurance. Rep. Gile has worked on this issue for almost two decades, including a number of study committees. Rep. Gile and Sen. Dan Feltes serve on the Taskforce on Work and Family, which helped work on a successful grant application to the US Department of Labor to study the costs and benefits of paid family and medical leave insurance in New Hampshire.

Recent research shows that 80% of Granite Staters support paid family and medical leave insurance, and 69% would be willing to allow a withdraw of $5 per week from their wages to establish the insurance.

Rep. Gile, and co-sponsor Sen. Feltes, released the following joint statement:

“After years of study, it’s time to finally move forward with paid family and medical leave insurance, and Granite Staters of all backgrounds and political affiliations agree – in fact, eighty percent (80%) of Granite Staters agree. This legislation will be uniquely New Hampshire, it will be bipartisan, and it’ll help us attract younger working families to New Hampshire. Insuring some short-term wage replacement will allow workers to care for an aging family member, care for a new child, and care for themselves, including getting needed substance misuse treatment. We look forward to working with members of both parties, the business community, and all stakeholders, including at the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Summit hosted by the N.H. Women’s Foundation on September 21,” said Rep. Gile and Sen. Feltes.

Granite State Progress and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action helped to push for paid medical leave as part of their Stand With Women campaign last year.

“Workers need time off to care for themselves and their loved ones,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It’s unreasonable that most families in our country cannot take time off during medical emergencies or for the birth of a new child without fear of losing their job. Paid family and medical leave insurance is an opportunity to put systems in place so that during these limited but intense times, families can focus on staying strong and healthy instead of facing economic insecurity.”

In early 2016, Rep Gile and Sen. Feltes were successful in passing SB 416 (13-10), a bill to prohibit retaliation against employees who request “flexible work schedules.”

We will continue to follow this bill as it makes it way through the Legislature next year.

State of the Union Highlights Importance of America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Statement by John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority,
on President Obama’s final State of the Union address

We’re glad the president highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation to a thriving private sector in his final State of the Union address tonight, and we agree that small businesses need to have their voices heard in our growing economy.

As noted in his speech, our economy is truly on a path to recovery, with more than 14 million new jobs and our unemployment rate reduced by half. We agree that creating smart policies that support working families and the middle class—small businesses’ primary customer base—is the most common sense way to ensure our economy continues down this pathway to prosperity.

In order to truly ensure small businesses and our economy thrive, we need policies like those discussed tonight on closing corporate tax loopholes, expanding retirement savings, mobile benefits and paid leave programs, and supporting an innovative economy. This will bolster our nation’s entrepreneurs and their middle class customer base. This includes:

  • Closing corporate tax loopholes that put small businesses at a disadvantage, and cutting the top corporate tax rates. Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found 75 percent of entrepreneurs believe their small business is harmed when big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes, and 90 percent believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay.
  • Supporting the growing freelance economy and identifying and fixing tax issues unique to freelancers. A healthy freelance ecosystem can provide an innovative and singular pathway for women, minorities, youth, veterans, disabled people and immigrants to enter the mainstream American economy and build income and independence.
  • Providing access to affordable health insurance for small businesses by upholding and implementing the healthcare law in full. The law creates more avenues for small business owners and the self-employed to secure affordable coverage and reduce costs, which encourages entrepreneurship and small business growth.
  • Moving forward with policies that help small businesses provide paid leave to their employees and raising the minimum wage. These changes can improve employee productivity, reduce turnover and increase spending at small businesses to strengthen our economy overall.
  • Supporting easy-to-implement mechanisms for entrepreneurs and small business employees to access retirement benefits, such as the myRA program.
  • Implementing the president’s plan to make two years of community college and technical school free to responsible students, which would help address our nation’s crippling youth unemployment, and small business owners’ struggle to find qualified workers.

These policies can play a valuable role in promoting an environment where small business can grow, but Washington needs to act on them. It’s vital that policymakers make it a priority to level the playing field for small businesses and break down barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship through smart economic policies. By taking action on these issues and more, we can help small businesses thrive and strengthen our economy.


About Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong economy. We regularly engage our network of 45,000 small business owners and more than 2,000 business organizations, along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 125 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers, including access to capital, taxes, healthcare, retirement, entrepreneurship and workforce development. 

Sanders’ Campaign Questions Clinton Opposition to Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation

DAVENPORT, Iowa – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday plans to make the case for three months of paid family and medical leave if employees have a child or they or their family members become ill. He plans to tell a news conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that it’s unconscionable that millions of new parents in this country are forced back to work because they don’t have the income to stay home with their newborn babies.

Sen. Sanders is disappointed that Hillary Clinton refuses to support the FAMILY Act sponsored by leading Democratic women in the Senate and House.

Bernie is one of 19 cosponsors of the bill by Sen. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to provide three months of paid family leave for new parents and people with serious illnesses. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s House bill has 112 cosponsors.

The legislation would be paid for by a small payroll tax totaling $1.61 a week for a typical worker.

“Bernie thinks that’s a good investment,” said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs. Secretary Clinton has refused to support the paid family and medical leave legislation because of the way it would be funded.

“What Secretary Clinton might not appreciate is that we’re talking about the same kind of modest investment our country has made before in two critically important programs for working families: Social Security and Medicare,” Briggs added.

“Would Secretary Clinton have opposed Social Security when President Roosevelt signed it into law? Would she have fought President Johnson when Medicare was passed? What FDR understood in terms of Social Security and what LBJ understood in terms of Medicare is the importance of all workers having a stake in important programs for working families, ” Briggs said.

“If she was the president, would she now veto the paid family and medical leave legislation that Democrats have introduced in Congress? How exactly would Sec. Clinton pay for her plan?”

Sanders support for the FAMILY Act was criticized on Friday by Clinton’s top domestic policy adviser, Ann O’Leary. Curiously, O’Leary previously supported a payroll tax to provide family and medical leave insurance in an article she co-authored for the Center for American Progress.

In South Carolina, Sanders Makes Case for Family Leave, Social Security

ST. HELENA ISLAND, S.C. – Speaking to 600 people packed inside the Penn Center’s Darrah Hall, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called for paid family leave for new parents and expanded benefits for seniors who rely on Social Security.

Sanders is one of 19 Senate co-sponsors of the Family and Medical Leave Act introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Rep. Rosa DeLauro is the chief sponsor of a companion bill with 112 co-sponsors in the House.

Under both measures, workers would be entitled to three months of paid leave to care for a newborn child. The legislation also calls for a small payroll tax totaling $1.38 a week for a typical worker.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton does not support Gillibrand’s bill, aides have said. Sanders urged all presidential candidates to join him in supporting the legislation.

The senator from Vermont also called on other White House hopefuls to join him in supporting a boost in benefits for retirees and the disabled.

With Social Security recipients facing a coming year with no cost-of-living adjustment for inflation, Sanders’ Social Security Expansion Act would make sure annual inflation adjustments are based on a formula that better measures seniors’ spending. Increasing medical costs and rising prices prescription drugs disproportionately impact seniors, Sanders told the audience here in South Carolina.

Legislation he introduced in the Senate also would increase Social Security benefits and scrap a cap on income subject to the payroll tax. Now, someone making millions of dollars a year pays no more than someone making $118,500 a year. Levying the same tax rate on annual income greater than $250,000 would only impact the top 1.5 percent of wage earners while boosting benefits for millions of retirees.

“I would hope that every Democratic candidate for president of the United States is prepared to lift the cap and expand benefits for millions of seniors in this country who desperately need to see those benefits expanded,” Sanders said.

According to published reports, Clinton has not categorically ruled out benefit cuts including an increase in the retirement age.

Sen. Sanders’ plan to expand and extend Social Security would boost the income of a typical senior making less than $16,000 a year by about $1,300 a year. It would also make sure that Social Security could pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 50 years.

The Economic Policy Institute Unveils Their ‘Women’s Economic Agenda’

New ‘Women’s Economic Agenda’ focuses on closing the wage gap between men and woman while lifting the wages of all workers 

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We need an economy that works for everyone not just a select few. Research shows that we are putting working women, specifically women of color, at a severe disadvantage.

We already know that women on average only earn $.70 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same job. The wage gap harms a woman’s chance of economic prosperity and slows economic growth.

The wage gap is closing, however this is not all good news. From 1980 to the present the wage gap has gone from 62% to 82% of men’s wages. On the surface this would appear to be great news, except that 40% of the gains, made by women to close the wage gap, actually came from the fact that men’s wages are falling. The average wage for men dropped from $20.13 in 1980 to $18.35 today.

Ensuring that all workers are paid equally for equal work is important, but that should not be due to the fact that men’s wages are falling. We need to lift all the wages of all workers together.

Today, the Economic Policy Institute released its Women’s Economic Agenda, a set of 12 bold yet achievable proposals that push the discussion about women’s economic security beyond closing the gender wage gap. While closing the gap between men and women’s wages is essential to bring genuine economic security to women and their families, policymakers must do more. Policies in the agenda include raising the minimum wage, ending discriminatory practices that contribute to gender inequality, providing paid family leave, and increasing access to high-quality child care. If implemented, these policies could raise women’s wages by as much as 70 percent.

“Raising wages and boosting economic security for women is an essential part of growing and strengthening America’s middle class,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who spoke at the agenda’s unveiling. “The proposals in EPI’s Women’s Economic Agenda would be powerful steps forward in the fight to level the playing field for women and families across the country.”

“The gender wage gap is only one way the economy shortchanges women,” said Alyssa Davis research assistant for the Economic Policy Institute. “Only when we take a holistic approach to women’s wages and seek to eliminate both the gender wage gap and the economic inequality gap will women reach their potential in the economy.”

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The full complement of policies in the Women’s Economic Agenda is:

  1. Raise the minimum wage—raising the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would boost wages for one-fourth of the workforce, or 35 million working people—56 percent of whom are women.
  2. Eliminate the tipped minimum wage—two-thirds of tipped workers are women, yet they still make less than their male counterparts. At the median, women tipped workers make $10.07 per hour, while men make $10.63 (including tips).
  3. Strengthen collective bargaining rights—women in unions are more likely to be paid higher wages and have access to benefits such as paid sick days and pensions.
  4. End discriminatory practices that contribute to race and gender inequalities—black women earn 65.4 percent and Hispanic women earn 56.5 percent of white men’s hourly earnings.
  5. Provide paid family leave—only 12 percent of private-sector employees have access to paid family leave. Without paid family leave policies, workers (particularly women) have difficulty balancing the demands of work and family.
  6. Provide paid sick leave—ensuring that working women can earn paid sick time would let them meet their responsibilities at work and at home without compromising their family’s economic security.
  7. Require fair scheduling practices—over one-third of women hourly workers in their prime childrearing years receive their work schedules with advance notice of one week or less.
  8. Provide accessible, affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education—accessible child care would ensure that parents do not need to choose between leaving the labor force and affording quality child care
  9. Protect and expand Social Security—the average female retiree receives over $300 less per Social Security check than her male counterpart.
  10. Provide undocumented workers a path to citizenship—women are concentrated in many occupations likely to be held by undocumented workers.
  11. Support strong enforcement of labor standards—women are more likely than men to be victims of wage theft, and are a majority of workers who would benefit from expanded overtime protections.
  12. Prioritize wage growth and very low unemployment when making monetary policy—better wage growth is crucial to ensuring that gender and racial wage gaps close for the right reasons, with wages rising for all groups but more rapidly for groups currently disadvantaged in labor markets.
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