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    To leave or not to leave?

    That is the question that Illinois college students and faculty are asking this August as they consider whether or not staying in a financially precarious state is feasible anymore.

    It’s no secret that for over a year, the state’s failure to pass a fully-funded budget has harmed Illinois residents: At least one million people have lost services as a result of the impasse.

    But the damage is far from over, especially with the back-to-school season starting. Cuts to financial aid and layoffs and closures at colleges and universities have whittled away at Illinois' higher education infrastructure over the last year. Many schools are scrambling to stay alive and affordable. And now, students and faculty are considering whether or not they can go through another year of financial uncertainty in Illinois. Many are deciding they can’t afford to take that risk.

    What are the implications of the stopgap budget?

    • Students drop out or stop out: One in seven students surveyed said they might not return to school in the fall—nearly 18,000 students Illinois will have lost.
    • Faculty flee to other states: At least 50 professors at the University of Illinois have already quit to pursue safer options.
    • Local economies suffer: At least one business near Eastern Illinois University has seen double the decrease in revenue this summer compared to other summers.

    Let’s keep fighting for our students and our state. Contact your legislators and the governor to make sure they know they need to pass a FULLY-FUNDED budget that does right by Illinois residents!


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    A Partial Budget = A Partial Victory

    It has been a difficult year for social service providers and the more than one million people who lost services as a result of the state's failure to pass a budget. Women relying on state services were hit disproportionately hard by the impasse which, among other things, forced some to prolong breast and ovarian cancer screenings. Cuts to financial aid and layoffs and closures at our colleges and universities have discouraged students from enrolling—or re-enrolling.

    The stopgap provides some overdue funding to higher education—including $150 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP). The measure also provides funding for social service providers, and allows K-12 to continue running for at least one year.

    However, the stopgap is only a partial and temporary solution that keeps the government afloat for the next six months—we still don't have a fully-funded budget for FY17 or FY16. And the stopgap does not provide MAP funding for next year’s college students or reduce the state's $8 billion bill backlog. In fact, one in seven students surveyed said they had doubts about returning to college this fall because of state funding issues related to MAP grants.

    So while the stopgap bill provides some relief, uncertainty still looms for many, which is why we need you to keep contacting your legislator! Supporters like you played a major role in persuading our legislators to pass a temporary relief measure, but we're not out of the woods yet.
    Let's keep working toward a better future: Contact your legislators to make sure they know that they need to prioritize passing a FULLY-FUNDED, YEAR–LONG budget!


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    Illinois Can Right a Historic Wrong that Excludes
    Domestic Workers from Labor Protections

    The Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights raises industry standards by finally including domestic workers under the same labor protections that all workers deserve. If passed, domestic workers will be included in:

    Domestic Workers

    • Illinois’ Minimum Wage Law, to receive minimum wage and overtime;
    • Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act, to receive one day off a week;
    • Illinois’ Human Rights Act, to be protected against sexual harassment; and
    • Illinois’ Wages of Women and Minors Act, to receive a fair and reasonable wage.

    If we pass this bill, Illinois will be the sixth state to have a domestic workers’ bill of rights following New York, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Oregon. We need your help to make this happen!

    Tell
    your senator today to vote YES on HB 1288, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.


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    Illinois Needs a Fair Tax Now

    Take Action NowFair tax legislation has been introduced in the Illinois House and Senate and, if passed, these bills would begin the process of amending the state constitution and enable voters like us to decide if Illinois should have a graduated income tax rate, with lower rates for people with lower incomes and higher rates for those with higher incomes.

    In terms of percent of income spent on state and local taxes, an Illinois household making $50,000 pays more than twice as much as a household making $1.5 million. It is deplorable that low- and middle-income families are disproportionately responsible for funding our state's vital programs and services.

    Contact your legislators today and urge them to do right by hardworking Illinoisans by supporting fair tax legislation.

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    Help IL Students Succeed!

    After seven months without a budget, the Illinois House and Senate have finally agreed on at least a piece of it by passing SB2043, which would allow the release of Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants to thousands of low-income students all over the state of Illinois.

    Now, the bill is on Governor Rauner's desk and we need your help to make sure he signs it! SB2043 would be a major win for students struggling to fund their education. Too many students have had to make impossible choices:
    Thousands have had to scramble to pay the tuition they thought they were getting in financial aid. Some have had to work multiple jobs and take student loans, only to find themselves still struggling to pay for their education—and an unnaceptable number have had to drop out altogether.

    The bill is a good first step to ensuring students who thought financial aid would cover their college expenses will not be on the hook for nearly $5,000. But the fight can't stop there: SB2043 does not fund public universities, nor is it funding other necessary services like child and senior care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, or rape crisis centers.

    Enough is enough—contact Governor Rauner today and tell him to SUPPORT MAP grants, community colleges, and adult education by signing SB2043!


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    How the Paycheck Fairness Act Will Strengthen the Equal Pay Act

    Tell congress: equal work deserves equal pay!

    The Equal Pay Act was passed over 50 years ago to prevent wage discrimination based on gender, but women today still earn, on average, 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. It’s even worse for women of color, as African American women earn 67 cents and Latinas earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women’s wages are important to families—more women than ever are primary earners for their households—and these missing wages could pay the mortgage, buy groceries, fill the gas tank, and even put kids through school.

    The Paycheck Fairness Act would improve the Equal Pay Act by:

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
    • Strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay; and
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts.

    Tell your legislators we have waited long enough for equal pay. Send them an email encouraging those who haven’t to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act in honor of Lilly Ledbetter, or thanking those who have already co-sponsored.


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    This Crisis Cannot Continue

    Illinois Doesn't Work Without Child CareTomorrow, legislators will be in Springfield for the first time in three weeks and the only time in November. This is an opportunity for them to vote for SB570, the bill that would reinstate child care eligibility for thousands of families, AND pass a comprehensive budget. Illinoisans cannot wait another month.

    Due to the lack of a state budget, hundreds of other programs have closed, while those that remain open are at risk of closing if the budget crisis continues. Illinois is quickly running out of resources. Health services, community colleges, university programs, disability services, and programs for the homeless have been among the many programs hit the hardest. The consequences for Illinoisans worsen each day, particularly for the most vulnerable populations: single mothers stuck in low-paid jobs, women trying to finish college to find family-sustaining careers, and families who need access to quality and affordable child care.

    There's more: According to the governor's office, Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program is now only serving 90,000 children—half the number of children served last year—because of Governor Rauner's restrictive new eligibility rules. What would you do if you couldn't afford to pay for child care each week? Would you leave your children home alone? Would you quit your job? Thousands of parents in Illinois are already being forced to make these impossible decisions—but it doesn't have to be this way. Today, Governor Rauner may have announced that he plans to roll back some of his rules and reinstate eligibility for most families, but it's best to make this law so that struggling families don't have to live with this uncertainty ever again.

    Illinois' families need a budget now! Tell your legislator that Illinois needs revenue and struggling families need subsidies to help pay for increasingly costly child care services.


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    This Crisis Cannot Continue

    Illinois Doesn't Work Without Child CareTomorrow, legislators will be in Springfield for the first time in three weeks and the only time in November. This is an opportunity for them to vote for SB570, the bill that would reinstate child care eligibility for thousands of families, AND pass a comprehensive budget. Illinoisans cannot wait another month.

    Due to the lack of a state budget, hundreds of other programs have closed, while those that remain open are at risk of closing if the budget crisis continues. Illinois is quickly running out of resources. Health services, community colleges, university programs, disability services, and programs for the homeless have been among the many programs hit the hardest. The consequences for Illinoisans worsen each day, particularly for the most vulnerable populations: single mothers stuck in low-paid jobs, women trying to finish college to find family-sustaining careers, and families who need access to quality and affordable child care.

    There's more: According to the governor's office, Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program is now only serving 90,000 children—half the number of children served last year—because of Governor Rauner's restrictive new eligibility rules. What would you do if you couldn't afford to pay for child care each week? Would you leave your children home alone? Would you quit your job? Thousands of parents in Illinois are already being forced to make these impossible decisions—but it doesn't have to be this way. Today, Governor Rauner may have announced that he plans to roll back some of his rules and reinstate eligibility for most families, but it's best to make this law so that struggling families don't have to live with this uncertainty ever again.

    Illinois' families need a budget now! Tell your legislator that Illinois needs revenue and struggling families need subsidies to help pay for increasingly costly child care services.


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    It’s Past Time to Pass a Budget

    As of July 1, the state stopped funding vital services and women are paying the price. People and businesses who provide essential services are not being paid. Programs are closing.

    Women Shouldn't PayHow does the lack of a budget in Illinois affect women? Here are some of the ways:

    • Child care and afterschool programs are turning people away, and moms now cannot continue working or going to school.
    • Illinois’ students might not receive their financial aid awards, meaning many women might not be able to afford college.
    • There is no funding for mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams, and Pap tests that women need to detect, diagnose, and treat devastating illnesses.
    • Women are being denied access to health services, like prenatal and mental health care, that rely on state funding to stay open.
    • Human services programs that serve children with special needs have been shuttered, as providers are not being paid.

    Our elected officials in Springfield need to start making choices, and the right ones, for Illinois’ women and families. Illinois needs a year-long, fully-funded budget now.


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    Parents Forced to Make Impossible Decisions

    Earlier this month, a bill that would have supported thousands of Illinois families failed to pass in the Illinois House by one vote. SB 570 would have restored funding to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which was decimated by the governor's extreme budget cuts earlier this year. Normally, CCAP helps struggling parents afford child care and provides a modest subsidy to parents who are working or in school. But since funding for CCAP was not reinstated, qualification for the program is still limited to the tiny number of families who meet severely restricted criteria:

    • Make at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level—or $10,045 for a family of three
    • Have children with special needs
    • Are headed by a teen parent
    • Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

    These cuts are devastating and leave thousands of parents desperately trying to find affordable care—or any care at all—for their children.

    How are parents going to pay for child care each week?  Forcing struggling families to relinquish other obligations—like work and school—just to meet child care costs, is definitely not the answer.

    Take action now by finding out how your elected representative voted and either thank them for supporting Illinois families or urge them to support parents and their children!


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    Students and Colleges Need Financial Aid

    Our own Sarah Labadie spoke with ABC7
    about the MAP funding crisis.

    As students begin or return to school, they are doing so with an uncertain future. Because Illinois does not have a budget for FY 2016, Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants are not funded for the nearly 130,000 students who qualify for them. At the end of the semester, students could end up owing money they thought financial aid would cover—nearly $5,000 in some cases! And colleges and universities in Illinois, many of which rely on this additional tuition to keep their doors open, have to make tough decisions about how to pay their staff and serve their students. This bill doesn’t even begin to address the fact that public colleges and universities don’t have other state funding yet either….

    The bill in front of the Illinois House—which would maintain MAP funding at $373 million—is not enough to solve the budget impasse. Programs that serve children and young adults, seniors, people suffering with addiction and mental illness, and more are closing every day as the stalemate in Springfield drags on. But it could be the critical first step toward a solution and a budget for FY 2016.

    Take action and tell your state representative that we need to fund MAP grants, choose revenue over cuts, and end this budget stranglehold today!


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    Tell Governor Rauner to Strengthen Illinois’ Equal Pay law to
    Cover All Employees

    Women are half of the labor force. Illinois’s Equal Pay Act should provide workplace protections against pay inequity based on gender to workers at any size employer. HB 3619 will make this necessary change, and it’s sitting on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed. Here are some reasons why the governor should sign it:

    • Full-time working women still earn on average only 78 percent of what men earn—and this is worse for women of color, at just 64 cents for African Americans and 54 cents for Latinas.
    • The wage gap adds up over the years with raises, bonuses, pensions, and Social Security. So over a working lifetime, it’s estimated that women will earn approximately half a million dollars less than men.
    • In two-thirds of families with children, women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. Ensuring that women get the equal pay they deserve helps families afford the basics of life.

    Let the governor know that employees working at any size employer should be protected from pay inequity.


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    New Child Care Rules Punish Illinois Families

    On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules upheld the governor’s changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps struggling parents afford child care. Ninety percent of new applicants are being turned away because the only families who now qualify are those who:

    • Make at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level—which is $10,045 for a family of three
    • Have children with special needs
    • Are headed by a teen parent
    • Receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

    Can you imagine trying to hold down a job or go to school when you don’t know if you can pay for child care each week? That’s going to be the situation for thousands of parents if we do nothing.

    Contact your elected representatives today and tell them to reinstate CCAP eligibility for Illinois families!


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    It’s Past Time to Pass a Budget

    As of July 1, the state stopped funding vital services and women are paying the price. Child care centers are turning children away. There is no funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings, which help save lives through early detection. Women hoping to go to college to achieve their dreams and find family-sustaining and life-changing careers will not be able to afford college if the crisis continues. Health services that women rely on for addiction treatment, mental health, and more are being eliminated.

    Our elected officials in Springfield need to start making choices, and the right ones, for Illinois’ women and families. Illinois needs a year-long, fully-funded budget now.


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    Don’t Let Congress Bankrupt Students

    Nearly 10 million students benefit from the Pell Grant program each school year. These students are single, working moms who want well-paying, stable careers that will support their families. They are smart, hardworking students from poor families whose parents cannot afford to help with tuition. They become teachers, CEOs, engineers, doctors, and more. Their contributions will forever change this country and this world.

    But their futures, and ours, could be in danger if the House and Senate pass their FY 2016 budgets. Both budgets eliminate $300 million or more for the Pell Grants on which so many students rely. The Senate’s proposal also decreases funding for work study, child care, adult education, and more.

    We cannot allow this to happen on our watch. Take action TODAY and let your legislators know that education funding is essential!


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     Stop Unpredictable and Unstable Scheduling Practices

    It’s becoming more and more common for employees in the food service, retail, and other industries—where women predominate—to get their schedules with only one or two days’ notice. Too often, employers require their workers to call in the day of a potential shift to find out whether or not to come into work, or send them home early without being paid for the hours they were scheduled to work. These practices are not only bad for workers—they are bad for the bottom line. They result in greater workforce turnover, more absenteeism, and a less productive workforce.

    The Schedules That Work Act is an important step toward providing basic protections from these scheduling practices so that employees will know when and how much they will work.

    How will the Schedules That Work Act help?

    • It would give employees the right to request a change in their work schedules without risking retaliation.
    • It would give workers who need a schedule change because of critical obligations, like caregiving, a right to receive that change.  
    • It would require employers in certain industries to give hourly employees advance notice of work schedules. 
    • It would require employers to provide extra pay to hourly employees who are assigned to a shift with less than a day’s notice or are sent home without working their scheduled shifts.

    This bill could make a real difference for working families. Please urge your representative and senators to sign on as co-sponsors. 


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    Every Worker Deserves a Fair Wage and Paid Sick Time

    Women Employed is leading the charge to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $11.00 and to enact paid sick time for all workers. Here are a few reasons why we should raise the wage:

    • Raising the wage would give minimum wage workers an additional $4,992 a year—enough to raise a family of three out of poverty;
    • A higher minimum wage puts money in the pockets of people who will spend it, spurs economic activity, and generates new jobs.

    In Illinois, 2.5 million workers have no right to a single paid sick day:

    • Without paid sick time, workers come to work sick because they cannot afford to miss a day’s pay;
    • Workers can be fired for missing work if they are sick or stay home to care for their sick child or elderly parent.

    Tell your Illinois legislators that raising the minimum wage and enacting a minimum standard of paid sick time are the right things to do for Illinois workers and their families.


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    Support Pregnant Workers

    When working women become pregnant, losing their job should be the last thing they expect. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—a federal bill similar to the one passed in Illinois last year—will ensure that pregnant workers have access to basic workplace accommodations so they can continue working safely. Most accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.  

    Working mothers need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because:

    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—particularly those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are only fair. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to avoid heavy lifting, stay off ladders, and sit on a stool instead of standing at a cash register.
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain their income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Thank Senator Mark Kirk for co-sponsoring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and urge Senator Durbin and your representative to follow his example.


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    Illinois Can Right a Historic Wrong

    The Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights raises industry standards by finally including domestic workers under the same labor protections that all workers deserve. If passed, domestic workers will be included in:

    • Illinois’ Minimum Wage Law to receive minimum wage and overtime,
    • Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act to receive one day off a week,
    • Illinois’ Human Rights Act to be protected against sexual harassment, and
    • Illinois’ Wages of Women and Minors Act to receive a fair and reasonable wage.

    If we pass this bill, Illinois will be the fifth state to have a domestic workers’ bill of rights, following New York, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. We need your help to make this happen!

    Contact your senator today and urge them to vote yes on HB 1288, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights!


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    It's Past Time to #ChooseRevenue

    If Illinois’ elected officials move forward with the budget proposed by Governor Rauner, it will devastate our state. Budget cuts are not just numbers. They represent:

    • Increased university tuition for students who are already struggling
    • The loss of child care assistance for parents of children ages 6-12
    • Increased fares for public transportation
    • No cancer screenings for thousands of women
    • The elimination of heating assistance for low-income families
    • And much more!

    But these are choices that do not have to be made. Our legislators could decide, instead, to invest in programs and services by choosing new revenue to close the budget hole.

    Send the email below right now!




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    It's Past Time to #ChooseRevenue

    If Illinois’ elected officials move forward with the budget proposed by Governor Rauner, it will devastate our state. Budget cuts are not just numbers. They represent:

    • Increased university tuition for students who are already struggling
    • The loss of child care assistance for parents of children ages 6-12
    • Increased fares for public transportation
    • No cancer screenings for thousands of women
    • The elimination of heating assistance for low-income families
    • And much more!

    But these are choices that do not have to be made. Our legislators could decide, instead, to invest in programs and services by choosing new revenue to close the budget hole.

    Send the email below right now!




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    Don’t Cut Mary’s Future

    In his 2016 budget, Governor Rauner has proposed cuts that would devastate Illinoisans hoping to begin, return to, or graduate from college. The cuts could put a college degree out of reach for students like Mary—a single mom who returned to school—by piling on more costs when she is already struggling to make ends meet.

    Although the proposal maintains funding for community colleges and need-based financial aid, it slashes public university funding, services for struggling student parents, and even public transit. In particular, the governor recommends cutting:

    • Public universities by 31.5 percent: If universities were to make up for the resulting shortfall, they would have to raise tuition as much as 65 percent. If they don’t make up the difference, they will have to reduce support services like counseling and advising, lay off staff and faculty, increase class sizes, and shutter academic programs.

    • The Child Care Assistance Program: This program helps student parents afford child care while they are in school and at work. The cuts could, at minimum, increase copayments and restrict participation for children over 5 years old, but could result in eliminating student parents entirely.

    • Transportation: Cuts to public transit could mean higher fares and limited service for students traveling to and from their college.

    This is just a sampling of the devastation that could result from the recommendations in the budget. Cuts to housing, health care, children and youth services, and more would impact millions of Illinoisans.

    Your legislators could pass this unsustainable budget or reject these cuts. Tell them to do the right thing!


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    Don’t Let Congress Bankrupt Students

    Nearly 10 million students benefit from the Pell Grant program each school year. These students are single, working moms who want a well-paying, stable career that will support their families. They are smart, hardworking students from poor families whose parents cannot afford to help with tuition. They become teachers, CEOs, engineers, doctors, and more. Their contributions to this country and this world have changed it forever.

    But their future, and ours, could be in danger if the House and Senate pass their 2016 budget resolutions. Both budgets eliminate $89 billion in mandatory funding for the Pell Grants on which so many students rely. In the House, the proposal would also freeze the current Pell Grant maximum award at $5,775
    for the next decade and find another $61 billion in cuts by rolling back and slashing student aid benefits, like income-based repayment for federal loans. Other changes could lead to a future increase in the interest rate for student loans or to further aid reductions.

    We cannot allow this to happen on our watch.
    Take action TODAY and let your legislators know that Pell is important!


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    82% of Chicago voters want workers to have
    both their health and their paycheck

    Currently 42 percent of Chicago workers, and nearly 80 percent of low-wage workers, do not get a single sick day. This translates to nearly half a million people who cannot afford to stay home when they are sick and miss a day’s pay—or worse, lose their job. So they come to work sick. 

    The vast majority of voters answered “yes” to the ballot referendum asking whether the City of Chicago should require employers to provide paid sick time for a worker’s personal or family illness, an incident of domestic or sexual violence, or a school or building closure due to a public health emergency. There is already an ordinance in the Chicago City Council that could make this a reality; this ordinance has the support of over half of the city’s aldermen. The proposed bill would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked, for between five and nine days a year, depending on employer size.

    Nationwide, the momentum for paid sick time is undeniable. Three states and 17 cities have passed paid sick time laws. Chicago should be next.

    Tell Mayor Emanuel and your alderman that Chicagoans believe families cannot afford to wait any longer for paid sick time.


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    Governor Rauner: Add $50 Million to MAP

    Once again, the suspension date for MAP is earlier than ever before. The thousands of students who will not receive MAP awards represent some of the most disadvantaged students in Illinois. They are struggling in low-wage jobs or jobs without an opportunity for advancement or even to find jobs in a tough economy. And without MAP, they may never get their chance to gain the skills and credentials they need to compete for high-paying employment and family-sustaining careers. This year, we need to make sure that our new governor understands that low-income students deserve a shot at a better life through education.

    Urge Governor Rauner to commit to designating at least $423 million for MAP funding for FY 2016. This modest increase will not make up for the dramatic shortfall that limits students’ access and success in college, but it will allow some number of students to begin attending who likely would not have otherwise. It is a step in the right direction toward building Illinois’ higher-educated workforce, strengthening our tax base, and helping students achieve their dreams.

    Contact Governor Rauner now!

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    Thank You for Standing Up for Families, President Obama

    President Obama’s call to action spoke to the essential issues of workplace fairness and access to education, both of which are needed as we redefine economic success for our country. Here’s our stance, and the President’s stance, on some of our policy issues:

    Paid Sick Time
    Without paid sick time, workers have to choose between their health or their jobs—risking job termination if they take time off to care for themselves or a family member. Enacting a law guaranteeing paid sick time would not only help workers, but also save employers money due to reduced turnover and increased productivity, contributing to a healthier nation overall. President Obama asked Congress to send him a bill that provides all workers the chance to earn seven days of paid sick time.

    Increased Minimum Wage
    We have been saying for years that every woman deserves a fair wage. The majority of minimum wage earners aren’t teenagers, but women and men supporting families. President Obama charged members of Congress with a challenge to raise the minimum wage, stating “If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

    College Affordability
    We advocate for innovative ways to make college affordable and feasible for adult students—from increasing the availability of financial aid to helping community colleges provide good support systems for retention. President Obama noted that 40 percent of our college students choose a community college and come from a diversity of backgrounds. Let’s support these millions of students who need assistance in order to move ahead.

    Congress may not accommodate the President on most of what he, and we, propose, but we appreciate his call to action on workplace fairness and access to education.
    Send President Obama a thank you for standing with us and standing up for working families.

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    Every Worker Deserves a Fair Wage

    Did you know that a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Illinois makes just over $17,000 a year? Could you and your family pay for rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and medical care on that? Unlikely. But that’s precisely what too many workers are forced to do. The majority of minimum wage earners aren’t teenagers, but women and men supporting families. In fact, 80 percent of minimum wage workers are adults, and 59 percent are women. 

    As part of Raise Illinois, a statewide coalition of advocates, Women Employed is leading the charge to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $11.00 over the next three years. Here are a few reasons why:

    • If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be almost $11.00 an hour instead of $8.25 in Illinois;

    • Raising the wage would give minimum wage workers an additional $4,992 a year—enough to raise a family of three out of poverty;
    • Restaurant servers, salon employees, and other tipped service providers earn even less: $4.95 per hour. Tips are unpredictable, so raising the minimum wage would help these low-wage workers to support their families;
    • A higher minimum wage puts money in the pockets of people who will spend it, spurs economic activity, and would generate new jobs;

    • 71 percent of Illinois voters support raising the minimum wage incrementally.

    Read this piece to learn even more about the benefits of raising Illinois’ minimum wage.

    Tell your Illinois legislators that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for Illinois workers and their families.

  • (No Title)

    Every Worker Deserves a Fair Wage

    Did you know that a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Illinois makes just over $17,000 a year? Could you and your family pay for rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and medical care on that? Unlikely. But that’s precisely what too many workers are forced to do. The majority of minimum wage earners aren’t teenagers, but women and men supporting families. In fact, 80 percent of minimum wage workers are adults, and 59 percent are women. 

    As part of Raise Illinois, a statewide coalition of advocates, Women Employed is leading the charge to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $11.00 over the next three years. Here are a few reasons why:

    • If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be almost $11.00 an hour instead of $8.25 in Illinois;

    • Raising the wage would give minimum wage workers an additional $4,992 a year—enough to raise a family of three out of poverty;
    • Restaurant servers, salon employees, and other tipped service providers earn even less: $4.95 per hour. Tips are unpredictable, so raising the minimum wage would help these low-wage workers to support their families;
    • A higher minimum wage puts money in the pockets of people who will spend it, spurs economic activity, and would generate new jobs;

    • 71 percent of Illinois voters support raising the minimum wage incrementally.

    Read this piece to learn even more about the benefits of raising Illinois’ minimum wage.

    Tell your Illinois legislators that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for Illinois workers and their families.

  • (No Title)

    Take a Stand for Equal Pay

    In April, President Obama gave a welcome jolt to the work on equal pay when he took executive actions to help combat pay discrimination. The President called on the Department of Labor to issue a rule to require federal contractors (which employ more than 20 percent of the United States workforce) to report information on what they pay their employees, by gender, race, and ethnicity. This rule will improve enforcement of the pay discrimination laws and increase voluntary employer compliance with those laws.

    The Department of Labor is collecting comments until January 5th in support or against this proposed rule, and we need you to add your voice. Tell the Department of Labor that you support the new equal pay rule to collect wage data from federal contractors because:

    • It will enhance their ability to detect violations and improve enforcement against pay discrimination.
    • It will develop a better understanding of which industries have the most widespread pay disparities.
    • It will collect total W-2 wages, which will generate a more comprehensive picture of disparities in compensation, by including key components such as bonuses and overtime pay.

    Personalizing this message will add to its impact. Please take the time to add your thoughts or share a personal story.

  • (No Title)

    No Diploma. No Aid. Big Problem.

    Nearly 10 million students benefit from the Pell Grant program each school year. These students include single, working moms who want a well-paying, stable career that will support their families. They are smart, hardworking students from poor families whose parents cannot afford to help with tuition. They become teachers, CEOs, engineers, doctors, and more. Their contributions to this country and this world have changed it forever.

    But their future, and ours, are constantly threatened
    as our representatives and senators in Washington battle over the budget.

    Sign our petition and join Women Employed and advocates all across the nation in supporting federal legislation that would stabilize and increase funding for Pell and help more low-income students get a college education.

  • Healthy Families
  • (No Title)

    Let’s Make Economic Stability a Reality for Working Families

    Whether single or married, we all struggle to balance our jobs with other responsibilities like going to school and caregiving.

    Women Employed is committed to creating equitable solutions that result in economic stability for today’s working families. Solutions like an increase in the minimum wage, so that more workers can actually earn enough to support themselves and their families. And solutions like paid sick days, so millions of workers don't have to risk losing their jobs when staying home because they, or their families, are sick.

    Women Employed believes in changing public policies to address these issues and more to improve the quality of jobs and create a just economic landscape. If you believe in this too, sign on to our Vision for Economic Stability below and join us as a voice for working families.

  • (No Title)

    Students are a Budget Crisis Casualty

    Just over ten years ago, the Monetary Award Program funded all eligible students in the state, sending hundreds of thousands of students to college who may not have been able to afford it otherwise. Today, it sends fewer than half of all eligible students, as budget cuts and the recession have taken their toll on funding for MAP. The majority of those students are very low-income adults who want to attend low-cost community colleges—but aren’t able to without MAP.

    In this budget year, it is difficult to increase the funding for the program, but it would be short-sighted to continue to underinvest in need-based grants for our lowest-income students. By 2020, 67 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary education, but only 43 percent of Illinoisans have one. We need to invest in students and increase graduation rates in the state to keep pace with the requirements of the job market. In addition, recent reports have noted that increasing college graduations would have a significant financial benefit for the state, but we cannot do this without need-based financial aid.

    Tell the officials you’ve elected how critical fixing the budget is so that students aren’t a casualty of Illinois’ short-sighted policy.


  • (No Title)

    Stop Unpredictable and Unstable Scheduling Practices

    The Schedules that Work Act (H.R.5159, S.2642) was just introduced by Representatives Rosa DeLauro and George Miller and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Harkin. It’s an important step toward providing baseline labor protections from abusive scheduling practices and giving workers a say in their schedules.

    How will the Schedules that Work Act help? Here are just a few ways:

    • It would give employees the right to request a change in their work schedules and clear protections from retaliation for making those requests.

    • It would give workers who need a schedule change because of critical obligations—like caregiving—a right to receive that change if the employer has no business reason to deny it.

    • It would require employers in certain industries to give employees advance notice of work schedules, provide minimum pay to employees who are sent home without working their scheduled shifts, and give an extra hour of pay to employees who are given same-day notice of whether they have to report to work.

    This bill would make our economy work better for everyone. Please urge your representative and senators to sign on as co-sponsors.

  • (No Title)

    Volatile Schedules = Unstable Lives

    Imagine being scheduled to work 40 hours one week and 15 the next, or day shifts and then night shifts, with no expected pattern. Imagine finding yourself having to always be “on-call” for work shifts, or paying for childcare and trekking across the city to your job—only to have your boss send you home without pay because business is slow.

    This is everyday life for many low-wage workers. Across the country, millions of people working in retail, food service, healthcare, and other low-wage industries suffer from volatile schedules, making it impossible to go back to school, to take a second job, and to plan for child care, doctors' appointments, and other family responsibilities.
     
    It doesn’t have to be this way.
    Sign our petition urging our leaders to end these unfair scheduling practices.

  • (No Title)

    Avoid Massive Cuts to MAP & More

    The Illinois General Assembly is working right now on this year’s budget and it all hinges on one thing: keeping the current five percent income tax. Without it, here is what we can expect:

    • 30,000 fewer students receiving financial aid grants
    • 41,000 fewer children in child care
    • 11,000 victims of domestic abuse not receiving shelter and assistance
    • 13,000 teachers laid off
    • 21,000 fewer seniors receiving the help they need from in-home caretakers
    • 3,700 victims of rape left without proper care

    This is what $2 billion in cuts this year and nearly $5 billion next year will look like. And this is the reality if we don't make our voices heard. Don’t let any of this happen—send an email to your senator and representative right now!


  • (No Title)

    Women Shouldn't Have to Choose Between a
    Healthy Pregnancy and a Job

    We need to stand up for women like Hilda Guzman in Long Island, who was told she couldn’t get “special treatment” at work because she was pregnant. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure that pregnant workers have access to reasonable workplace accommodations to continue safely working. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Working mothers need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because:

      • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
      • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are a public health necessity. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit on a stool or carry a bottle of water, that they do for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health.
      • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Stand up for working mothers! Tell your senators and representative that the time is now to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

  • (No Title)

    Along with our coalition partners, we drafted the bill, worked the halls in Springfield, mobilized advocates who called their legislators—and won! The Illinois Pregnancy Fairness Bill just passed, ensuring that being pregnant in Illinois doesn’t mean being pushed out of the workplace.

    House Bill 8 is a measured approach that prevents employers from unnecessarily harming pregnant workers and forcing them to leave their jobs. It ensures that pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on, that employers already make for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Why It Matters:

    • No woman should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and her job. The bill requires Illinois employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit on a stool or carry a bottle of water—just as they do for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health.
    • This bill will help both pregnant workers and the families who rely on their paychecks. Women are the primary breadwinners in 41 percent of American families and either primary or co-breadwinners in 64 percent of families.
    • Most working women will become pregnant during their careers. Women of childbearing age make up 54 percent of the workforce in Illinois, and two-thirds of American women work during their pregnancy.

    Join us in saying thank you to our senators and to Governor Pat Quinn for standing with us and standing up for working mothers and their families.

  • (No Title)

    Victory in the House! Now It's the Senate's Turn!

    We are so close to closing a pregnancy discrimination loophole in Illinois. The bill has passed the House and should be up for a vote in the Senate in the next week. It’s time to eradicate pregnancy discrimination once and for all. We need to stand up for women like Chelsea, a grocery store stocker, whose employer refused to allow her to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated while pregnant and working. She suffered from dehydration and preterm contractions on several occasions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received a growing number of similar cases, and recent court decisions have sided with employers who refuse to make simple accommodations for pregnant workers.

    The Illinois House of Representatives just passed a bill that ensures that pregnant women don’t have to choose between their health and their jobs; the legislation has now moved to the Senate. House Bill 8 (HA 3) is a measured approach that prevents employers from unnecessarily harming pregnant workers and forcing them to leave their jobs. It ensures that pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on, that employers already make for other workers who require small, temporary changes for their health. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Photo of Hortensia Valera

     

    “During my second pregnancy, my employer required
    me to clean more rooms in less time. I was rushing
    and stressed about whether or not I would finish all of
    my rooms in time. Working so quickly gave me a lot of
    pain in my lower back and my pelvis.”

                               - Hortensia Valera, hotel housekeeper

     


    Working mothers need this legislation because:

    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are only fair. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to carry a water bottle, stay off ladders, and sit on a stool instead of standing at a cash register.
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain their income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Tell your senators that HB 8 is what working mothers need for themselves and their families.

  • (No Title)

    It's the End of a Chapter, Not the End of the Story

    It's discouraging that the voters of Illinois will not get to vote in November in favor of a constitutional amendment to institute a fair fax, but we cannot let it deflate the momentum we have been building. The proposed tax would benefit almost all Illinois taxpayers and would help secure the state's financial future. It is absolutely the right move for Illinois.

    Yet special interest groups, many from out of state, ran an expensive smear campaign against fairness. Their misleading ads and influx of cash helped scare legislators into thinking Illinois voters wouldn't support a fair tax. We need to drown out their money with our voices. Sign on to pledge your support for a fair tax in Illinois.

  • (No Title)

    Stand up for Working Mothers

    It’s time to eradicate pregnancy discrimination once and for all. We need to stand up for women like Chelsea, a grocery store stocker, whose employer refused to allow her to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated while pregnant and working. She suffered from dehydration and preterm contractions on several occasions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received a growing number of similar cases, and recent court decisions have sided with employers who refuse to make simple accommodations for pregnant workers.

    The Illinois House just passed a bill that ensures that pregnant women don’t have to choose between their health and their jobs; the legislation will soon move to the Senate. House Bill 8 is a measured approach that prevents employers from unnecessarily harming pregnant workers and forcing them to leave their jobs. It ensures that pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on, that employers already make for other workers who require small, temporary changes for their health. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Photo of Hortensia Valera

     

    “During my second pregnancy, my employer required
    me to clean more rooms in less time. I was rushing
    and stressed about whether or not I would finish all of
    my rooms in time. Working so quickly gave me a lot of
    pain in my lower back and my pelvis.”

                               - Hortensia Valera, hotel housekeeper

     


    Working mothers need HB 8 because:

    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are only fair. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to avoid heavy lifting, stay off ladders, and sit on a stool instead of standing at a cash register.
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain their income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Thank your representatives who voted in favor of these common-sense changes, and let those who voted against it know that you're disappointed.

    And stay tuned: We'll let you know when it's time to contact your senators.

  • (No Title)

    Stand up for Working Mothers

    It’s time to eradicate pregnancy discrimination once and for all. We need to stand up for women like Chelsea, a grocery store stocker, whose employer refused to allow her to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated while pregnant and working. She suffered from dehydration and preterm contractions on several occasions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received a growing number of similar cases, and recent court decisions have sided with employers who refuse to make simple accommodations for pregnant workers.

    A new bill in the Illinois General Assembly ensures that pregnant women don’t have to choose between their health and their jobs. House Bill 8 (House Amendments 1 and 2) is a measured approach that prevents employers from unnecessarily harming pregnant workers and forcing them to leave their jobs. The bill ensures that pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on, that employers already make for other workers who require small, temporary changes for their health. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Photo of Hortensia Valera

     

    “During my second pregnancy, my employer required
    me to clean more rooms in less time. I was rushing
    and stressed about whether or not I would finish all of
    my rooms in time. Working so quickly gave me a lot of
    pain in my lower back and my pelvis.”

                               - Hortensia Valera, hotel housekeeper

     


    Working mothers need HB 8 because:

    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are only fair. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to avoid heavy lifting, stay off ladders, and sit on a stool instead of standing at a cash register.
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain their income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Tell your representatives that HB 8 is what working mothers need for themselves and their families.

  • (No Title)

    We Need to Stabilize our Revenue with a Fair Tax

    Without a sustainable budget solution, Illinois’ budget crisis will get worse. Next year, we could see:

    • 30,000 fewer students receiving financial aid grants
    • 41,000 fewer children in child care
    • 11,000 victims of domestic abuse not receiving shelter and assistance
    • 13,000 teachers laid off
    • 21,000 fewer seniors receiving the help they need from in-home caretakers
    • 3,700 victims of rape left without proper care

    The future of Illinois depends on changing our tax code. The General Assembly needs to do as Governor Quinn suggested and maintain the current tax rate for next year, and they must pass a resolution putting the fair tax amendment on the November ballot.

    Send an email to your legislators and ask them to do both!


  • (No Title)

    It’s time for legislators to #GetSmart about financial aid

    For the first time ever, MAP awards have been suspended in February, the earliest suspension date in history. The thousands of students who will not receive MAP awards represent some of the most disadvantaged students in Illinois. They are struggling in low-wage jobs, or jobs without an opportunity for advancement, or even to find jobs in a tough economy. And without MAP, they may never get their chance to gain the skills and credentials they need to compete for high-paying employment and family-sustaining careers. This year, we need to make sure that legislators understand that low-income students deserve a shot at a better life through education.

    Urge your legislators to commit to putting at least $392.2 million toward MAP for FY 2015. This modest increase of $19 million will not make up for the dramatic shortfall that limits students’ access and success in college, but it will allow a small number of additional eligible students to begin attending who likely would not have otherwise had the opportunity. It is a step in the right direction toward building Illinois’ higher-educated workforce, strengthening our tax base, and helping students achieve their dreams.

    Contact your legislators now!


  • (No Title)

    Every Worker Deserves a Fair Wage

    Did you know that a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Illinois makes just over $17,000 a year? Could you and your family pay for rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and medical care on that? Unlikely. But that’s precisely what too many workers are forced to do. The majority of minimum wage earners aren’t teenagers, but women and men supporting families. In fact, 80 percent of minimum wage workers are adults, and 59 percent are women. 

    As part of Raise Illinois, a statewide coalition of advocates, Women Employed is leading the charge to pass a minimum wage bill, and raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $11.00. Here are a few reasons why:

    • If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be almost $11.00 an hour instead of $8.25 in Illinois;

    • Raising the minimum wage to $11.00 would give workers an additional $4,992 a year—enough to raise a family of three out of poverty;
    • Restaurant servers, salon employees, and other tipped service providers earn even less: $4.95 per hour. Tips are unpredictable, so raising the minimum wage would help these low-wage workers to support their families;
    • A higher minimum wage puts money in the pockets of people who will spend it, spurs economic activity, and would generate new jobs;

    • 71 percent of Illinois voters support raising the minimum wage incrementally.

    Read this article to learn even more about the benefits of raising Illinois’ minimum wage.

    Tell your state representative that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for Illinois workers and their families.

  • (No Title)

    President Obama: Thank You for Standing Up for Working Families

    America is supposed to be a land of opportunity, where working hard means getting ahead. But minimum wage workers, working hard to serve us in restaurants, hotels, stores, and other workplaces across the country, are falling behind. Their hard work is undervalued and underpaid. President Obama understands the importance of increasing the minimum wage so that America’s hard workers will get paid what they deserve and can provide for themselves and their families.

    In tonight’s State of the Union Address, the President will announce that he will use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for those working on new federal contracts for services. This means that hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans—including janitors and construction workers—will gain better access to economic opportunity. This Executive Order is a step in the right direction for workers and also for our economy. A higher minimum wage for federal contract workers will provide good value for the federal government and good value for the taxpayer. Boosting wages will lower turnover and increase morale, and will lead to higher productivity overall. Raising wages for those at the bottom will improve the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.

    In addition to announcing this limited wage increase, the President will renew his call to Congress to increase the minimum wage for all workers by urging the passage of the Harkin-Miller bill. The bill would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and index it to inflation, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years.

    This is a huge victory and a testament to your activism. There’s more to do, but this announcement is a step in the right direction and we’re grateful that the President is using his executive authority to lead by example and stand up for workers!

    Send President Obama a thank you for standing with us and standing up for working families.

  • (No Title)

    Stand Up for Working Mothers

    We need to stand up for women like pregnant furniture store employee Natasha Jackson who was placed on unpaid leave because she could no longer lift more than 25 pounds—even when her job required very little lifting in the first place. When working women become pregnant, losing their job should be the last thing they expect. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 942) will ensure that pregnant workers have access to reasonable workplace accommodations so they can continue working safely.  Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Working mothers need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because:

    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are only fair. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to avoid heavy lifting, stay off ladders, and sit on a stool instead of standing at a cash register.
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain their income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    Tell your Senators that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is what working mothers need for themselves and their families.

  • (No Title)

    Paid Leave is Good for Working Families

    The passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 21 years ago was a first attempt at bridging the gap between work and family by providing unpaid leave to workers who qualify. But with fewer than half of workers qualifying for leave, and even more unable to sacrifice their paychecks, millions of people are faced with an impossible choice: work or family? 

    A new bill has just been introduced that will make sure workers never have to face this question. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (H.R. 1439, S. 786)—the FAMILY Act—would provide workers with the opportunity to care for themselves and their families while keeping their jobs and their incomes secure.The FAMILY Act would do this by: 

    • Providing eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a number of  circumstances, including parental leave, a personal illness, or the illness of a child, parent or spouse;
    • Creating an insurance fund of low-cost contributions from both employees and employers that would provide workers with 66 percent of their income (capped at a fixed amount and indexed for inflation) while on leave;
    • Paying for the insurance fund through payroll contributions from both employers and their workers at only two cents for every $10 earned—for most workers, this would be less than $2 a week;
    • Making leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer, including the self-employed and unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history. In this way it would apply to young, part-time, and low-wage workers; and
    • Protecting workers who take paid leave from employer retaliation.

    Twenty one years after FMLA it’s clear: we need to make it easier for all workers to meet the needs of their families without fear of losing their paycheck. Paid leave is good for working families, good for business, and good for the economy. Ask your legislators to support the FAMILY Act today!

  • (No Title)

    Tell U.S. Senators: Don’t leave struggling families behind

    The country is slowly recovering from an economic recession that left millions of Americans jobless. Programs like Emergency Unemployment Compensation have proved essential to keeping the long term unemployed and their families from falling into poverty. In 2012 alone, unemployment insurance (UI) kept more than 1.7 million people out of poverty, the majority of them women with families. But if U.S. Senators don’t act soon millions of American families relying on UI to stay afloat will be left behind come December 28 when the benefits expire.

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a budget bill that includes federal government spending levels through the end of the year. And, unfortunately they failed to include an extension of emergency unemployment insurance. Without an extension 1.3 million people will lose their UI benefits by the end of the month, and an additional 3.6 million people would fall out of the unemployment insurance program in the first half of 2014. This leaves countless American families without a safety net in times of struggle. But there’s still hope.

    Next week U.S. Senators get the chance to vote on the budget and decide how to allocate the money. We need to make sure our lawmakers prioritize struggling families and ensure that millions of jobless Americans don’t fall into poverty.

    Tell U.S. Senators: Don’t leave struggling families behind, extend unemployment insurance benefits before the end of the year.

  • (No Title)

    Let’s Make College Success a Reality

    Finding a way to pay for college is one thing, but even when they find a way to pay for school, many adult students struggle with academic and personal barriers like conflicting work schedules, family responsibilities, and poor education preparation.

    Nearly half of adult students are forced to give up on their dreams, dropping out before they complete their first year. Too often, public policies and educational institutions don’t respond effectively to these barriers or provide quality programs that lead to good jobs.

    Women Employed believes that by changing public policies to better serve the most vulnerable students, working women will have the opportunity to access high-quality college programs that support their academic success and put them on a path to economic security for themselves and their families. If you believe this too, sign on to our Vision for Higher Education below and join us as a voice for working women.

  • (No Title)

    Stand up for Working Mothers

    We need to stand up for women like Hilda Guzman in Long Island, who was told she couldn’t get “special treatment” at work because she was pregnant. Women should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and their job. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1975, S942) will ensure that pregnant workers have access to reasonable workplace accommodations to continue safely working. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line.

    Working mothers need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because:

      • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
      • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are a public health necessity. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit on a stool or carry a bottle of water—just as they do for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health.
      • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.

    On the 35th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act stand up for working mothers! Tell your senators and representatives that we can’t wait another 35 years for justice—the time is now to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the Department of Labor: Continue to Protect Working Women

    The Department of Labor’s decision to extend basic labor protections to domestic workers is reason to celebrate. But there is still more to do. According to recently released U.S. Census data, almost 18 million women lived in poverty in 2012. One of the reasons: the 23-cent wage gap that still exists between men and women.

    Since 2006, there has been no tool that effectively collects wage information by gender, race and national origin from federal contractors. Collecting this information is essential to giving employees the information they need to combat pay discrimination. It’s essential to ensuring that companies that get federal dollars—our tax money—comply with the law and pay women fairly.  It’s essential to combating the wage gap.

    Thank the Department of Labor for domestic worker protections and request a compensation data tool to close the gender wage gap!


  • (No Title)

     It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

    America is supposed to be a land of opportunity, where working hard means getting ahead. But minimum wage workers, working hard to serve us in restaurants, hotels, stores, and other workplaces across the country, are falling behind. Their hard work is undervalued and underpaid.

    The Fair Minimum Wage Act (S.460 & H.R.1010) will make a difference by:

      • Increasing the minimum wage by 95 cents over the next three years, until it reaches $10.10.
      • Increasing the tipped minimum wage by 95 cents per year until it reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. Tipped workers now earn a paltry $2.13 an hour—an amount that hasn’t increased for 20 years.  
      • Indexing both minimum wages to inflation to keep up with the cost of living.
    This Labor Day, commemorate all the workers and activists who have contributed to the fight for basic workers' right by taking action. 

    Ask your US legislators to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act today!

  • (No Title)

    Tell Your Senators: Support the Nomination of Tom Perez

    The United States Department of Labor plays a key role in protecting and serving workers, particularly women. It ensures workers are able to take family and medical leave to care for themselves or a sick relative and return to their job. It shields workers from exploitation, abuse, and unsafe working environments and conditions by protecting their wages. And it enforces equal opportunity in the workplace, including equal pay.

    To do all this work, however, the Department of Labor needs a strong leader. Tomorrow, the Senate has the opportunity to support such a leader, Tom Perez, and keep the Department of Labor on the right track.
    Tell your senators to support his nomination today!


  • (No Title)

    Over 50 Years Later, Equal Work STILL Deserves Equal Pay

    On June 10, 1963 the Equal Pay Act was passed, addressing wage discrimination based on gender. Over fifty years later, equal pay is the law of the land yet a woman makes only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. The numbers are even more dismal for women of color. On average, women lose more than $11,000 a year due to the gender wage gap. Women’s wages are important to families—more women than ever are primary earners for their households—and those missing wages could pay the mortgage, buy groceries, fill the gas tank, and even put kids through school. 

    The Paycheck Fairness Act would improve the Equal Pay Act by: 

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
    • Strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay;
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts;
    • Creating stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.

    Tell your legislators that women deserve equal pay for equal work. Send them a letter encouraging those who haven’t to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act and thanking those who have already co-sponsored. 


  • (No Title)

    Thank You for Increasing MAP

    Legislators in Springfield did the right thing by increasing Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding by $2 million. MAP funding is now at $373 million, all of which will go to students in need so they can complete their education. Funding more students through MAP is a sound investment in the future of Illinois and its citizens. People with higher levels of education earn more per year and are more likely to be employed than their less educated peers. In addition to benefitting families and communities, increased income and employment result in increased tax revenue and less government spending on income supports.

    Although lawmakers increased financial aid, it won’t cover all the students who need it. But this initial increase is a step in the right direction towards investing in the future of Illinois' students.

    Send a note to your legislators showing that you appreciate their decision to increase funding for MAP and asking them to continue to support financial aid.


  • (No Title)

    Tell Your Senators to Pass HB 208

    Last year, the Illinois General Assembly allocated $371 million of the state budget towards Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, and while that provided thousands of low-income students with the opportunity to attend and finish college, it wasn't enough to provide grants for all the students that need it.  But this year, the House made the right decision and passed a budget, HB 208, that includes a $2 million increase to MAP.  The legislation is now in front of the entire Senate and it needs to pass!  This is a sound investment in the future of Illinois and its citizens.  Not only will students and their families benefit, but an increase in college graduates means increased tax revenue and less government spending on income supports.  

    As legislators work to pass a budget by May 31st, they should ensure that funding for MAP increases so that Illinois' college students can become Illinois' college graduates. 

    Tell your senator to pass HB 208 and increase funding for MAP. 


  • (No Title)

     Stand Up for Working Mothers

    We need to stand up for women like the pregnant nursing home activities director in Valparaiso, Indiana who lost her job because she could no longer lift heavy tables, an activity that took up less than 10 minutes of her workday and that her coworkers routinely volunteered to do. Women should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and their job. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 5647) will ensure that pregnant workers have access to reasonable workplace accommodations to continue safely working. Most reasonable accommodations will cost employers zero dollars and save money from reduced workforce turnover—which is good for everyone’s bottom line. 

    Working mothers need H.R. 5647 because:
    • Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will become pregnant during their careers. And today, women make up almost half of the workforce. Some women—especially those in strenuous jobs—will face a conflict between the physical demands of their work and their pregnancy.
    • Reasonable job modifications for pregnant workers are a public health necessity. Employers should make the same types of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they already make for disabilities. For example, pregnant workers should be able to sit on a stool instead of stand at a cash register, avoid heavy lifting, and stay off ladders. 
    • Pregnancy-related adjustments at work promote family economic security. The ability to continue working while pregnant allows women to maintain income and seniority while also accessing advancement opportunities.
    Tell your senators and representatives that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is what working mothers need for their families.

  • (No Title)

    Working Families Need REAL Flexibility

    Working families are struggling to meet the demands of work and family while trying to make ends meet. Family-friendly policies give families real flexibility to work and take care of their loved ones. The Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), despite its name, would undermine working families by:

    • Violating central tenets of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA has protected workers for 75 years by requiring that hourly, non-exempt employees be paid for any time beyond the standard 40 hours per week. The “flexibility” in this bill would have employees working unpaid overtime beyond a 40-hour work week in order to accrue as much as 160 compensatory hours. This provides an incentive for employers to increase worker overtime as their employees will essentially be working for free. 
    • Lessening workers’ paycheck security. H.R. 1406 would allow employers to defer compensation, whether in money or time, to workers for up to 13 months. This, in effect, gives employers an interest-free loan as employees who work overtime today may not see the benefit of that time for over a year.
    • Giving workers less control and no guarantee of getting time off. If workers choose to work compensatory overtime in anticipation of a family event, there is no guarantee they’ll be able to take the time off when they need to. The bill gives employers the power to determine when workers can take the time off, if at all.  

    Tell your representative that the Working Families Flexibility Act is NOT what workers need for their families.


  • (No Title)

    Domestic workers bring skills and experience
    into the homes of their employers

    Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to employment abuses due to the isolated nature of the industry, where women labor behind closed doors and out of the public eye.  Furthermore, domestic workers are excluded from most labor and employment laws.  Illinois can level the playing field by enacting the following comprehensive bill of rights and grant domestic workers basic rights that other Illinois workers have.

    The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act (SB 1708) will make a difference by providing the right to:

    • be paid no less than the minimum wage
    • be paid for all work hours
    • be compensated for scheduled work
    • have at least one day off a week
    • have meal and rest periods, or be paid if not relieved from work for these periods
    • accrue one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked
    • be free from sexual harassment

    Ask your state senator to support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act (SB 1708) today!


  • (No Title)

    It's Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

    America is supposed to be a land of opportunity, where working hard means getting ahead.  But minimum-wage workers, who serve us in restaurants, hotels, stores, and other workplaces across the country, are falling behind.  Their hard work is undervalued and underpaid.

    The Fair Minimum Wage Act (S.460 & H.R.1010) will make a difference by:

    • Increasing the minimum wage by 95 cents over the next three years, until it reaches $10.10.
    • Increasing the tipped minimum wage by 95 cents per year until it reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
    • Indexing both minimum wages to inflation to keep up with the cost of living.

    Ask your U.S. legislators who are not yet supporters to co-sponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act today!


  • (No Title)

    Students are a Budget Crisis Casualty

    Just over ten years ago, the Monetary Award Program funded all eligible students in the state, sending hundreds of thousands of students to college who may not have been able to afford it otherwise. Today, it sends fewer than half of all eligible students, as budget cuts and the recession have taken their toll on funding for MAP. The majority of those students are very low-income adults who want to attend low-cost community colleges—but aren’t able to without MAP.

    In this budget year, it is difficult to increase the funding for the program, but it would be short-sighted to continue to underinvest in need-based grants for our lowest-income students. By 2020, 67 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary education, but only 43 percent of Illinoisans have one. We need to invest in students and increase graduation rates in the state to keep pace with the requirements of the job market. In addition, recent reports have noted that increasing college graduations would have a significant financial benefit for the state, but we cannot do this without need-based financial aid.

    Tell the officials you’ve elected how critical fixing the budget is so that students aren’t a casualty of Illinois’ short-sighted policy.


  • (No Title)

    Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay! 

    Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, a woman earns only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Those missing wages could pay the mortgage, buy groceries, fill the gas tank, even put kids through school.  Equal pay for equal work is essential to the growth of our economy, women’s access to economic security, and the well-being of our nation’s families.  Working women are being treated as a bargain.

    The Paycheck Fairness Act (S.84 & H.R.377) will strengthen current laws by:

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages; 
    • Strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay;
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts;
    • Creating stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.
    Ask your US legislators to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act today!

  • (No Title)

    Tell Congress to Keep Millions of Jobless Out of Poverty

    Without Congressional intervention and the reauthorization of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program through 2013, millions of workers could lose their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits next year. These benefits provide a small but crucial lifeline for struggling families.

    In fact, the benefits of unemployment insurance are staggering.

    • In 2011, UI provided for 26 million workers and their families
    • UI benefits reduced the poverty rate of those who received it by 40 percent
    • It is projected that UI will support 300,000 jobs in 2013 by injecting $48 billion in increased consumer spending into the economy

    It is clear that as a country, we cannot permit these benefits to expire. Contact your Congressional representatives now and tell them to reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

  • (No Title)

    Keep Students on the MAP!

    Every year, low-income students in Illinois face the daunting prospect of how to pay for college.  And every year, more than half of the students who are eligible for state financial aid through the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant find out they can't receive these critical dollars because the state has run out of money.  These students want to better their lives, the lives of their loved ones, their communities, and society as a whole, but can't because MAP funding falls short.

    A MAP Task Force has just been granted the opportunity to take a look at the program and see what we can do to help more needy students access and complete their higher education programs.  Sign this petition to let the policymakers on the Task Force know that you want to see MAP improved so it can better serve students, instead of cutting off those who need the money most.

  • (No Title)

    Celebrate Pell’s 40th Anniversary by Saving It for All Students

    Almost 10 million students receive Pell grants every year, critical financial aid that gives them a chance to go to college, graduate, and move on to good jobs and careers.  But the changes laid out in Representative Paul Ryan’s budget, passed out of the House of Representatives, would cut funding and eligibility for Pell, limiting opportunities for many Americans.

    Among other things, the proposed budget resolution:

    - Eliminates $105 billion in funding
    - Eliminates grants to students who attend less than half time
    - Makes Pell vulnerable to cuts at any time
    - Eliminates increases to the Pell maximum

    Stand up for Pell grants and let your senators know that they cannot pass a budget that reduces Pell to almost nothing.

  • (No Title)

    Action Network

    Did you know you can be fired
    for talking about your salary?

    We need to strengthen our equal pay laws, and our U.S. Senators will vote to do so on Tuesday.  Women still make far less than their male counterparts based on gender alone.  In retail, the wage gap is 36 cents!  And businesses continue to unfairly profit from women’s labor by paying them far less than they are worth.  The Paycheck Fairness Act will strengthen current laws to ensure women can have their day in court by:

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
    • Deterring wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay;
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts;
    • Creating stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.

    We all know that women deserve equal pay for equal work.  Without it, everyone suffers—women, their families, their communities, and America.  Illinois' Senator Richard Durbin is already on board with S.3220.  Tell Senator Mark Kirk to vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday!

  • (No Title)

    Did you know you can be fired for talking about your salary?

    We need to strengthen our equal pay laws, and our U.S. Senators will vote to do so on Tuesday.  Women still make far less than their male counterparts based on gender alone.  In retail, the wage gap is 36 cents!  And businesses continue to unfairly profit from women’s labor by paying them far less than they are worth.  The Paycheck Fairness Act will strengthen current laws to ensure women can have their day in court by:

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
    • Deterring wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay;
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts;
    • Creating stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.

    We all know that women deserve equal pay for equal work.  Without it, everyone suffers—women, their families, their communities, and America.  Tell your senators to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday!

  • (No Title)

    Is $16,500 a year enough for your family?

    The current Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, or $16,500 a year for a full-time worker, is keeping people in poverty.  If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be over $10 an hour today.  You can help every family afford to put food on the table by urging your legislators to increase the minimum wage and pass SB68.

    Among other things, this bill will:

    • Gradually restore Illinois’ minimum wage back to its historic value – the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $1.60 in 1968 dollars or over $10 an hour.
    • Increase the minimum wage by 50 cents plus inflation each year until it reaches the 1968 level.
    • Adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
    • Inject billions of dollars in new consumer spending into Illinois’ economy, as working families spend the higher wages on necessities at local businesses.

    A recent poll shows that 71 percent of Illinois voters support increasing the state’s minimum wage. Tell your legislators to stand up for working families in Illinois and support SB68.

  • (No Title)

    Stand Up for Students:
    Tell Your Representative to Oppose Pell Changes

    Almost 10 million students receive Pell grants every year, critical financial aid that allows them to access and complete college and move on to good jobs and careers.  But the changes laid out in Representative Paul Ryan’s budget, passed out of committee last week, would cut funding and eligibility for Pell, limiting opportunities for many Americans.

    Among other things, the proposed budget resolution:

    • Eliminates $105 billion in funding
    • Eliminates grants to students who attend less than half time
    • Makes Pell vulnerable to cuts at any time
    • Eliminates increases to the Pell maximum

    Stand up for Pell grants and let the House of Representatives know that it cannot pass a budget that reduces Pell to almost nothing.

  • (No Title)


    IL Senators: Do Something for Students NOW

    To remain economically competitive, Illinois must increase the number of students who complete higher education certificates and degrees, leading to better jobs and higher pay.  Projections indicate that by 2020, 67 percent of jobs will require a certificate or degree, but only 43 percent of Illinoisans hold one.

    While the budget situation in Illinois presents a number of challenges to increasing our college graduation numbers, several measures could be taken immediately to help more students complete college.  Ensuring that students, parents, policymakers, and other stakeholders have good information on colleges and universities—and their completion numbers—is a strong first step.  SB 3803 will create easy-to-read report cards that will do just that.

    SB 3804 will ensure that students do not take unnecessary and duplicative coursework when they transfer, wasting time and money.  It creates an in-depth report of how course credits transfer between community colleges and universities, and creates a broad stakeholder committee to help the state identify and address the core issues.

    Both bills are out of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and now go to the full Senate.  Urge your senator to pass them and get them into the House!

  • (No Title)

    Stand Up for Paid Sick Days in Illinois!

    Great job, Seattle! The Seattle City Council recently passed an ordinance that allows workers to accrue paid sick leave based on the hours they work and the size of their employer. It is a great step forward, and we hope that Illinois—and all states—soon pass similar laws.

    In Illinois, the Healthy Workplace Act would:

    1) Allow employees to earn up to 7 paid sick days per year, accrued hourly for every 30 hours worked.

    2) Provide leave: a) for an employee's own illness; b) to care for the illness of an employee's family member; or c) for medical appointments.

    It’s time the 2.5 million Illinois workers without a single paid sick day have this basic right! Stand up for workers, and sign the petition below.

  • (No Title)

    Thank you for taking action!

    Thanks for adding your voice to the groundswell of support for paid sick days. Now, tell your legislators personally why paid sick days are important to you.

    No one should have to choose. Most Americans assume paid sick leave is an employee right, but this isn’t true yet. One of five private-sector workers and more than four of every five low-wage workers get no paid sick leave.

    Without paid sick days, the health of the American public and workforce is jeopardized. Americans are forced to go to work ill, disregarding their own health and that of their co-workers. Sick children are left home alone or must attend school sick, threatening the health of their classmates.

    The Healthy Families Act would ease some of the tough choices facing families by allowing workers to accrue up to seven paid sick days annually to take care of themselves or their families.

    Email your specific congressional representatives and let your federal legislators know you support the Healthy Families Act.

  • (No Title)

    Support Sick Days for American Families

    Did you know that more than 80 percent of low-wage workers don’t have a single paid sick day?  When they are sick, they either have to go to work or put their families in jeopardy by risking their paychecks or even their jobs.  That’s not ok!  It’s about time that all workers had access to paid sick days.

    Join Women Employed and advocates all across the nation in supporting federal legislation that would provide the basic right to take a paid sick day.  Add your name to the Healthy Families Act petition!

  • (No Title)

    Equal Pay for Equal Work Starts with
    Paycheck Fairness

    It is unbelievable that in 2012, women still make far less than their male counterparts based on gender alone. In retail, the wage gap is 36 cents! And corporate giants and other businesses continue to unfairly profit from women’s labor by paying them far less than they are worth.

    But we can do something about this inequitable treatment by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The act will strengthen current laws to ensure women can have their day in court by:

    • Prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages;
    • Deterring wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations;
    • Empowering women to negotiate for equal pay;
    • Strengthening education and enforcement efforts;
    • Creating stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.

    We all know that women deserve equal pay for equal work.  Without it, everyone suffers—women, their families, their communities, and America.  Take action today and ask Congress to ensure equal pay!


  • Tell Congress: Support the Paycheck Fairness Act
    Fair Pay for All is Good for All

    With a record 69 million women in the workforce, wage discrimination hurts the vast majority of American families.  And yet, women only may 77 cents to a man's dollar.

    Congress can help rectify this injustice by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.797 and H.R.1519).  Urge your Congressional representatives to support this bill, which would close major loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, and give women the tools they need to ensure they’re being paid fairly.

    Without equal pay, women all over the country are suffering, and so are their families.  We need Congress to make the Paycheck Fairness Act a law.
    Please act now!