Monday, December 14, 2009

Yomara Velez Wins Organizer Respite Award

We are proud to announce that 9to5 organizer Yomara Velez has won the National Organizers Alliance Respite Award which honors the tireless activism of two organizers each year by sending them on a week long vacation.

Yomara was chosen for the award in recognition of her 15 years of organizing for social and economic justice. She currently works as an organizer at 9to5 Atlanta as well as Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). Yomara began her career in the field as a young single mother in the Bronx when she founded the organization Sistas on the Rise and worked with organizations such as Mothers on the Move and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

The Respite Award also highlighted Yomara's committment to creating a culture that honors connections to families and communities in the workplace. In her own neighborhood in the West End, she heads up Friends of the West End Park planting fruits and vegetables, cleaning the park, and making it a safe space for kids to play with her neighbors. With her two sons, 14 year old Keanu and 4 year old Diego, she knits, crafts, and gardens.

Yomara and her family will get to spend a week in a mountain resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Congratulations Yomara on this well-deserved award!

See her profile along with the other 2009-2010 Respite award winner here:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Minimum Wage Committee Meeting!

We will be discussing raising the minimum wage for tipped workers.

When: THIS WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18, at 6:30pm

Where: IBEW Building 9to5 Office
501 Pulliam St., Atlanta GA 30310

The minimum wage in Georgia is $5.15. Help us raise it!

For more information contact Yomara or Shyria @ 404-222-0037 or

Monday, November 2, 2009

Join us this Wednesday Nov. 4th to watch:

Made in LA -- an award winning feature documentary about three Latina women who work in garment sweatshops in Los Angeles and decide to organize to gain basic labor protections from the clothing retailer Forever 21.

The inspiring film shows their personal journeys from victimization to empowerment as they work together to lead boycotts and file a public law-suit to gain their rights in the workplace.

Check out the film's website here:

We will be joined by Adelina Nichols, Director of the Georiga Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) for a discussion after the viewing.

What: viewing and discussion of --
Made in LA
When: Wednesday Nov. 4th at 6:00pm
Where: 501 Pulliam St. Atlanta 30310
IBEW building, 4th floor conference room

This is a great opportunity to connect with other 9to5 members in the Atlanta area and talk about issues of social justice. Contact Yomara Velez with any questions at or call 404-222-0037.

We hope you can make it!

Tuesday November 4th is ELECTION DAY in counties across Georgia!

Do you have all the information you need to get to the polls and VOTE?

Poll-locator information
To find your polling location and to check if you are registered in this election go to the GA Secretary of State poll locator page at:

Voter ID - What to Bring
Check here for a list of acceptable identification:

Sample Ballots for City of Atlanta Voters
Find a sample ballot for your district here:

Let's Get Out the Vote for Working Women and Families!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter Meeting Success and GOTV This Week

Thanks to all who came to the Chapter Member Meeting this Saturday. You're enthusiasm and ideas were inspiring! If you missed the meeting, e-mail to be filled in on updates and events.

We will be doing Get Out the Vote calling this week on Thursday and Friday evening, 10/29 & 10/30, from 5:30 to 8:30pm.

We hope you can join! Please call or e-mail to let us know you are coming: 404-222-0037 or Let's help Atlanta elect government officials who will work for working families!

Moms Lobby Isakson for Healtcare Reform

Yesterday morning Caitlin and I met up with the online organizing group at Senator Isakson's district office to join them in their effort to lobby senators across the nation for healthcare reform. While it was certainly a novel experience to sit in the plush conference room of a Congressional office and watch the national healthcare debate played out between the well-informed women of MomsRising and one of the Senator's top legislative aides, what I will remember most about the meeting is stories the mothers shared.

Each of the four women arrived on a mission to make sure the Senator heard the story of how the healthcare system had failed their family. As soon as we sat down their heartbreaking stories began pouring out. Michelle Law, whose son has cerebral palsy among a host of other medical problems, explained that even when her son is covered by both private insurance and Medicaid, their family goes into tens of thousands of dollars of debt each year to pay for the cost of simply keeping him alive. Kathie McClure, who started the non-profit, told how her daughter can never receive coverage from a private insurer because her Type 1 diabetes is considered a pre-exisiting condition. Another mother, Barbara Souter, spent two years googling her daughters symptoms to try and diagnose her disease as the family continued to pay out of pocket for every test and procedure she underwent.

These mothers not only spoke of the failing system from the perspective of personal experience, but with a formidable amount of knowledge of the ins and outs of healthcare legislation, state and federal policies, and insurance procedure. Their resounding message was ultimately one of universal coverage and care for all. Caitlin and I both left in awe of the commitment these mothers have made to being engaged in the political process (Barbara told us she had both Georgia senators on speed dial!) I am both grateful that they are making sure the voices of working families and mothers are being heard in this debate, and hopeful that their efforts will make a difference.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lobbying for the Healthy Families Act

Technology Intern Caitlin McCannon:

Caitlin in Saxby Chambliss' OfficeOn Thursday, I went with Mari, Cindia, and Asha to lobby at Senator Saxby Chambliss' office in support of the Healthy Families Act. I had never been lobbying before so this was certainly an experience- and one I was proud to be a part of. 37 million workers do not have any paid sick days. This figure includes 3 out of 4 low-wage workers, a statistic of which I am a part. I was able to share my own experience as an example of the need for paid sick days.

I work at a movie theater on nights and weekends. The schedule each week came to mean the difference between making the rent payment. . . or not. If you could not work the hours you were scheduled for any reason, those hours went to someone who could or a new hire came in to take your place on the rotation and you lost not only that night's pay but next week's as well. In this climate, being sick means more of a loss than most of the employees can afford.

The concessionist behind the counter scooping the popcorn and filling the drinks, the usher tearing tickets, even the box office cashier handing you your change, all have come in knowing they were sick but needing the shift, needing that pay. With the Healthy Families Act, working while sick would not be a necessity. Employees could earn paid time off to recuperate at home when sick. How many restaurant employees are coming into work sick because they cannot afford to call in? With swine flu spreading, measures like these protect not only employee health, but yours as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Parent Protection Act and CO-AGE (Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Aging)

Yesterday the 9to5 Atlanta staff had a busy legislative agenda. While several of the staff members headed to the office of Senator Chambliss to talk about the Healthy Families Act (more on that meeting to come), Shyria and I made the two and a half hour long trek to Little Ocmulgee State Park in McRae, Georgia for the quarterly CO-AGE advocacy training meeting. CO-AGE (Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly), headed by the Georgia Council on Aging, is comprised of a number of advocacy groups that organize around policies that will protect and promote the well-being of the aging in Georgia.

After driving lengthy stretches of country highway without passing a single Kroger for hours, Shyria and I began to wonder if we hadn't driven two hours too long in the wrong direction. Luckily, we made it to the venue just in time for Shryia to lead a group discussion on the Parent Protection Act. The PPA is listed on CO-AGE's 2009 legislative priorities. While I had heard 9to5 staff speak about the importance of the legislation for working women in minimum wage jobs, the group discussion yesterday focused on its importance for working women and families taking care of elderly parents and grandparents.

Shryia spoke to the group about the evolution of thought behind the bill that led to the realization that the 24 hours a year of unpaid leave is needed not only for parents to be able to attend parent-teacher meetings or other mandatory school functions without jeopordizing their jobs, but also gives them time to take their elderly parent or grandparent to a scheduled doctor's appointment or medical procedure. Several people shared personal stories of dealing with their struggle to balance the role of parent and care-giver, and Shyria responded to questions about the bill regarding enforcement and employee accountability. By the end of the discussion, the group concluded that while 24 hours a year was not enough time to take care of these responsibilities, getting this this bill passed is a crucial step on the road to protecting a parent's right to put their family first.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GA Job Family Collaborative Survey

The Atlanta Chapter Work/ Family Support Committee needs your participation to help develop legislative strategy for the job protective leave policy initiatives.

The Georgia Job Family Collaborative will be introducing a new legislative strategy during the second term of the 2009-2010. This is the second of two surveys that we have asked you to complete. The information you share will help the committee to prioritize work family issues in order of importance for 9to5 members and help determine the legislative strategy for the upcoming General Assembly session.

Please click on the link below to open and complete the survey. We appreciate your participation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Anni's coffee blog

Anni Metz, former 9to5 Jesuit Volunteer and creator of this blog, now has a job as a professional blogger! She's at the Chicago Coffee Examiner writing tips for coffee lovers and reviews of local Chicago coffee spots. Check it out here:

Congrats Anni, Remember us when you're a famous blogger!

Friday, September 25, 2009

9to5 at Southern Labor Union Meeting

The newly elected officers of the national AFL-CIO stopped in Atlanta this past Monday to meet with union members and labor community leaders (9to5 included!) for a discussion on the foreclosure crisis in the South. Although this was the first union meeting I had ever attended, the few expectations I had of what it might be like were met almost immediately. The walls were covered with colorful political rallying posters for the Employee Free Choice Act (for more info about this important legislation, click here).

There was speech-making and hand-shaking by politicians running for office in the impending city elections. Almost every speaker ended at a fevered-pitch, shouting over the cheers of what was a surprisingly vocal crowd for 8am in the morning.

Several of the speakers decried the predatory lending schemes that have targeted low-income minorities with loans doomed for foreclosure. A single mother and a woman in retirement, both of whom had lost their homes after being led into risky loans, went to the podium to tell their stories. There were even plans to head down the Wachovia Bank headquarters to call for a moratorium on foreclosures which was ultimately canceled due to the louder demands of the Georgia weather.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the discriminatory targeting practices of lenders have affected low-income and minority workers in the foreclosure crisis, read this article by Barbara Ehrenreich in the New York Times called “The Recessions Racial Divide.” Take a closer look at the the banner that was made to take to the Wachovia headquarters.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Share the Health

Last Thursday Atlanta 9to5 members, staff and interns headed to the health care rally at the Georgia state capitol building to stand with Americans across the country in favor of health care coverage for all. There was lots of chanting and cheering among the crowd of over 700 supporters (What do we want? HEALTH CARE! When do we want it? NOW!) as well as some very creative poster messaging (Share the Health! and Can I trade in Chambliss and Isakson in for Clunkers and Collect $4,500? were our favorites). Two 9to5 chapter Board members Gloria Smith and Claudia Lewis were also at the rally showing their support and wearing 9to5 T-shirts. As the President speaks to Congress this evening about passing health care legislation, 9to5 members need to remind their Congressional Representatives and Senators that affordable health coverage is an essential need for working women and their families.

Check out these photos of 9to5 at the rally and some of the more creative posters we saw.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mayor Franklin's Farewell

Yesterday, as one of my very first adventures as a 9to5 intern, I got the chance to attend Mayor Shirley Franklin’s Roundtable meeting with National Organizing Director Cindia Cameron and 9to5 member Marilynn Winn. Cindia and Marilynn were guests on the speaker panel alongside Lisa Borders, President of Atlanta City Council, and the mayor herself. The crowd of about 160 women (and a few men) that gathered included state policy makers, elected officials, and Shirley Franklin fans, many of whom had attended every single one of the 15 plus Roundtable breakfasts that have been held during the mayor’s eight years in office.

The Roundtables of the past have discussed a wide range of serious issues affecting women in Atlanta. Yesterday’s meeting highlighted some of the most concrete ways Mayor Franklin has helped make change in the lives of women. Cindia told the story of the mayor’s collaboration with 9to5 and the Living Wage Coalition that led to one of the greatest gains for low-income women during Mayor Franklin’s time in office; raising the minimum pay rate for city employees to the living wage of $10.50/hr. After Cindia spoke about the Coalition, Marilynn Winn, one of our own Atlanta 9to5 members, spoke courageously about the struggles she faces working for minimum wage and the great need for work still to be done. Marilynn received a standing ovation from the audience for her poignant speech.

Mayor Franklin also added a personal note to the presentation, sharing a bit about her experience as an African-American woman in the political arena. To hear both a powerful politician and a minimum wage worker speak together about gender as a root cause of her struggle in the workplace was a powerful example of why the work of 9to5 is as important as ever, and a reminder of why women must continue to speak out and share their stories.

Check out the pictures and video of Marilynn speaking at the event on the 9to5 page.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An open letter to 9to5 staff and members

I can’t believe it, but my last day working at 9to5 is tomorrow. This past year has been an amazing learning experience for me. With your guidance, encouragement, and a bit of tough love, I’ve grown a lot over the past twelve months. I’ve done things I never thought I would – including lobbying in Washington DC (twice?!), registering voters for what will probably be the most historic election of my lifetime, spending countless hours listening to stories and giving advice on the helpline (1-800-522-0925 – hit it up if you have questions about your rights in the workplace!), and learning and living what community organizing is all about.

All of this learning is thanks to you! It has been a joy working with and getting to know every single one of you this year. I’ve loved hearing your stories, discovering your passions, and oftentimes following your example of walking the talk. You’re powerful, energetic, driven, and – of course – so much fun to spend time with! I've loved the work I've done at 9to5, because I loved the people I was working with, and I’ll never forget a single one of you.

I’m moving on to the next steps in my life – which involves a move to Chicago, IL with my best friend, starting graduate school, and continuing to fight for workers’ rights around the world by being an advocate for international fair trade policies. Please know that if you’re ever in the area and need a place to crash and/or a restaurant recommendation, mi casa es su casa… and I’m a pro at finding delicious, cheap eats!

Keep fighting the good fight and please keep in touch!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Senate approves Sotomayor 68-31

BREAKING NEWS: The Senate has confirmed Sonia Sotomayor to become our next US Supreme Court Justice! She'll become the first Latina justice in history and only the third woman ever to serve on the bench. The child of a single working mother from the Bronx, Sotomayor went on to study at Ivy League schools and worked hard to get to where she is today. Her confirmation is a victory for women everywhere!

Read about the Senate confirmation here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Text much?

Do you incessantly text your friends and family? Oftentimes, with my busy schedule, texting becomes my main form of communication. So, why not keep in touch with 9to5 via text message too??

Sign up here to receive updates on our campaigns and action alerts from your cell phone. It's a quick and easy way to stay connected!

Happy texting!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Federal Minimum Wage increases to $7.25/hour

The federal minimum wage will increase today, raising wages of the lowest paid workers from $6.55/hour to $7.25/hour and providing a real boost to working families and the economy. Workers who benefit from the increase will spend it in their local communities on much needed items like milk, diapers and clothes for their children.

Marilynn Winn is a temp worker in Atlanta earning $6.75/hour at an auto auction. “Increasing the minimum wage will help me and everyone in my community,” she says. “I help my 77 year old mother and 18 year old grandson when I can. Sometimes my mother calls asking for help to buy food and I have to say, 'I can’t this week.'”

Such basic needs might not sound like the elements of an economic recovery package. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, this $24 per week increase for full-time minimum wage workers will generate $5.5 billion in consumer spending over the next year - providing a helping hand to the sagging economy. Though Congress could not foresee our current economic troubles when a series of three wage increases were enacted in 2007, this minimum wage increase could not come at a better time – for low-wage, working families and for the country as a whole.

When President Franklin Roosevelt first proposed the first federal minimum wage law in 1937, he noted that "The increase in national purchasing power (is) an underlying necessity of the day.”

Thirty-one states will be affected by the minimum wage increase, including Georgia and Wisconsin where 9to5 has worked in coalition with business, labor, faith, nonprofit and civil rights organizations to ensure that working families receive what Roosevelt called a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Other states where 9to5 has launched campaigns, including Colorado and California, have a minimum wage above $7.25.

Recent economic studies document that states where the minimum wage was raised had better employment and small business growth than states that did not. A letter signed by 650 leading economists, in support of raising the minimum wage, noted “most of the beneficiaries are adults, most are female and the vast majority (come from) low-income working families.” Disputing claims that these increases threaten job growth, they state, “The increase… would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed.”

While the federal minimum wage increase will go into effect at a time when working families are struggling mightily to make ends meet, the American worker, particularly low-wage workers, need and deserve more: guaranteed paid sick days, more affordable child care for working parents and time off to be involved in their children’s school activities.

As we celebrate this minimum wage increase and all that it promises, let’s continue to move toward family-friendly workplace legislation so that the workplace works for all of us.

- Statement of Cindia Cameron
Organizing Director, 9to5 National Association of Working Women
Co-Chair, Georgia Minimum Wage Coalition

ALSO: Check out Michael Kanell's article about the minimum wage hike in today's AJC... two 9to5 members were quoted!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't know much about Sotomayor?

According to a CBS poll conducted over the weekend, 62% of Americans have yet to form an opinion of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, many because they just don't know that much about her. Are you part of that 62%??

Today, Sotomayor's confirmation hearings began in the Senate -- and your senator needs to hear from you! If you feel like you don't know enough about the nominee to form an opinion, start reading, or watch the evening news, or start talking to your friends about her. Your senators have been elected to represent you, so speak up!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Work/Family Support Committee meeting!

Sunday, July 12
4-5:30 pm

Tah Cha Tea House
3352C Chamblee-Tucker Road
Here's a map!

Come join this 9to5 member committee as we discuss current legislative campaign in support of the Healthy Families Act and brainstorm strategies to build awareness about workplace oppression and the need to build a national movement to gain equitable work standards for all working adults.

See you there!

PS: Here's a link to Tah Cha's website.

Also, shout-out to Moms Rising: Read this blog post about the Healthy Families Act before the meeting!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What a working woman needs....?

Soon, in late October (which will be here before I can blink), I'll have been a parent for 13 years! The trials and tribulations of parenthood have shaped me and the lessons learned in the aftermath of many dangers averted and survived have secured my seat at the "Council of Sages" once my body catches up with the fatigue of my battle ridden professional identity. I learned two things very early as a working woman the 1st was that opportunities for advancement were limited and the competition was fierce 2nd the workplace is hostile towards working parents. I love being a woman, I feel honored to be a mom, but parenthood sucks!

For almost thirteen years I have struggled to provide a quality life for my children and myself. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I started out emptying trash cans in a neighborhood in home childcare,and have worked a collage of part and full time jobs to support myself throughout college well into my parenthood experience. The jobs ( cashier, waitress, inn keeper, front desk agent, customer service rep, program assistant,and bank teller) required long hours in multiple shifts in order to meet the minimum financial obligations connected to my household. And no matter how many hours I seemed to work, the hourly pay rate inhibited my ability meet 100% of my obligations 100% of the time.

I exchanged a living wage for flexible schedule that allowed me the time to balance my family responsibilities. I was able to work odd shifts that allowed me to be available to my children daughter most days after school and in the early evenings. I did have to sacrifice weekend time with my family as I often worked 3 out of 4 weekends a month. If I could get a weekend off it was usually a single day [Friday,Saturday or Sunday] but rarely two weekend days in a row. Working weekend shifts meant that quality time with my family was a prized event so I looked forward to our full Saturday or Sunday together once a month. Though I appreciated being able to pick my children up from school, helping with homework, and preparing meals; I felt constant anxiety about my income and our expenses. I often worked when sick as I could never afford to take a sick day for myself and often sent my children to child care and school in poor health because I was unable to take time off from work to care for them.

I have, since becoming an adult, been employed. My part time jobs offered me the flexibility I needed, but the pay was very scarce. Full time positions often presented other challenges such as a rigid schedule or exempted positions that again required long hours that were compensated in an accrual of comp-time that I could never find the time to take off. The benefit packages such as health, life and dental that covered me and my children offered some cushion to my anxiety when the often compromised net pay was deposited into my often negative bank account. But still I felt like I could never get ahead and was doomed to be stuck in a cycle of poverty that kept me living just below a descent standard of living.

I began to find myself waking in the middle of the evening in sweats concerned about the future of my family and my professional options. I had no college degree, two children and a non traditional career path. Was I ever going to be able to find work that not only payed me a "fair" wage but also satisfied my thirst for professional development. I needed employment that helped me to build a pathway to economic self sufficiency, not a job that leached my talents and potential with dead end prospects. I was often overlooked for promotions and scrutinized for every off day I may have taken, though as I stated I days off were rare and only taken when absolutely required by a doctor.

I have experienced many accomplishments in my professional and personal life. But the lows have been completely derailing. I have survived 3 (independent) company lay-offs, been forced to live on unemployment insurance and food stamps while trying to reenter the workplace, evicted from 2 apartments, been homeless with my children and had 1 car repossessed while trying to keep my life with children in tow afloat. when I was not able to work a traditional job, I created wealth for myself my accepting a string non-traditional service jobs such as nanny, house keeper or day laborer. I have, as many adults will empathize, always had to work to support myself. My children required me to stretch a $28k salary to cover the needs of 3 people this included covering the exorbitant cost of quality childcare/ aftercare, housing and transportation expenses. I list those three expenses as the primaries because we survived with a roof over our heads but often went without utilities and ate meager rations. Childcare and after care were a support that must be afforded if I was t o be able to work at all. Without transportation (including MARTA tokens) movement was compromised and travel to and from work or schools was impossible.

Maybe some of you would list other expenses, but my children and I have always lived on a scarce budget, and this working mom often finds herself asking "What do I need to survive?" or "What do we need to make it out of this mess?" Well my work in the area of workplace advocacy has helped me to define with more clarity and confidence what this working mom needs. I need health benefits that cover my family and myself with a low co-pay and options in coverage. I need pay that supports a quality life. I don't want to go from a 2004 Malibu classic to a 2009 Bentley, I'm not trying to buy more house than I can afford to care for, I want to be able to take my children to the Georgia Aquarium just once without having to compromise the utility bill or blowing the food budget for the month. I need to work for an employer that has compassion for the family unit and accepts that whether physically present or not, support of the family is why most adults maintain employment. We all want to retire with a good work history, financial security and life insurance benefits that will provide for our loved ones after our transition; as a single working mom I want to believe that I too can strive for these American ideals. But I often feel stuck and uncertain in this southern "Right to Work" state whose electorate seems to be committed to continuing this disenchanting waltz that perpetuates my and many others downward spiral into abject poverty. I need my elected officials to hear my well articulated appeal to pass laws that provide paid sick time, life supporting wages and advancement opportunities for all employees in all fields of work. All work in unique and necessary on some level; men/ women, young/ old, college educated or not, regardless of ethnicity or sexual identity need to know with security and confidence a quality life is obtainable and that the American workplace is a vehicle to deliver on promise of internationally popularized American ideals.

As a working woman, I need an intentional effort made to level the playing field in the workplace, so that it can become a viable means to lift mine and many families like mine out of poverty and push us further from its clutches.

posted by Shyria Coleman.... please offer your comments, feed back, concerns or rebuttals on this discussion board. I want to know... What do other working women need?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This 4th of July, Support the Healthy Families Act!

For most Americans, the Fourth of July is a day for fireworks, concerts, parades and all manner of patriotic displays. It’s as American as barbeque ribs and apple pie, reminding us of freedom, justice, community, hard work and family values; the shared ideals that define us as a nation.

We don’t need a holiday or special celebration to honor working families. But we all occasionally need time off from work to share the responsibility for our family’s health. Still, the Fourth of July is a perfect time to contact our leaders in Congress and ask that they celebrate our national values of family and work by supporting the Healthy Families Act (HFA).

On May 18, Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Healthy Families Act to the 111th Congress. HFA is designed to allow Americans to earn paid sick time so that they can take care of their own and their family’s health needs. Care-giving responsibilities can be one of the biggest hurdles working families face in their quest to realize the American dream of economic self-sufficiency. But nearly 60 million American workers lack a single paid sick day in which to care for themselves when occasional illness strikes. Nearly 100 million lack a paid sick day to care for an ill child.

For these Americans, the lack of this basic labor standard presents unconscionable choices: whether to go to stay home and get better or go to work to keep from losing a job. On this Fourth of July holiday – and beyond -- there is lots of work to do to make work, well, work. Click here to learn more about the Healthy Families Act. Share the information with your family, friends, co-workers, community members. Urge them to take action today by contacting their members of Congress to insure that they support the Healthy Families Act.

While we’re waving our flag this July 4th, let’s really honor all Americans by moving toward passage of the Healthy Families Act.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

REPORT: Race and the Recession

The Applied Research Center recently released a report titled "Race and the Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and how to Change the Rules." This report details the stories of people of color who are disproportionately affected by the recession. It uncovers root causes of long-term racial inequities that fed into the economic crisis. It proposes structural solutions to change a system that threatens future generations.

You can look at a synopsis of the report and watch a video of personal stories here.

The report finds that: "People of color have been relegated to precarious, low-wage work - or no work - at disproportionate rates. Black, Latino, Asian and American Indian communities face barriers in employment, including discrimination in hiring and promotions, unfair criminal background checks and the lack of protections for immigrant workers. As a result, communities of color on the whole, relative to whites, face higher rates of poverty, are less likely to have healthcare and consistently face recessionary levels of unemployment and underemployment."

Be sure to check out the Action Steps listed on the ARC's website and make sure your voice is heard!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Make sure you're registered to vote!

I'm sure you're wondering why I'm bringing up voter registration in the middle of June... there are more than 4 months until the next election, right? Well, I'm really excited about voter registration for two reasons:

  • I just registered to vote in Georgia about a month ago and I'm really excited about voting in the Atlanta mayor's race in November!
  • I attended a lobbying/activism training put on by the Women's Policy Group yesterday, and they kept stressing that the easiest way to make your voice heard is to exercise your right to vote!

So, it's true -- there ARE four and a half months until the next election. However, you can check right now to make sure you're registered to vote at your current address and under your current name. If either has changed, you MUST re-register to vote!

  • You can check your registration status online here.
  • If your address or name is incorrect (or if you're not even in the system!), you can download a voter registration form here (this is a PDF document).
Check it out, make sure all of the information is current, and start thinking about who's running in November... it's never too early to be informed!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How many members will YOU recruit?

9to5's Annual Membership Drive may have ended less than a month ago, but the Atlanta Chapter would like to continue the drive's momentum by recruiting 20 new members by August 15th.

The contest starts now! The member who recruits the most new members to the chapter will win a candle-lit meal for two and the runner up will win a certificate for a massage. For more details, click here.

Not sure how to recruit members to 9to5? Just ask!

Think of people you know who might support 9to5's mission and values -- women who you know have needed paid sick days, who have suffered harassment or discrimination on the job, who belong to other women's groups, or who work with organizations you have supported in the past, your mailman, childcare worker, or hairdresser. If you take look around you, I bet you'll find lots of people who would be interested in joining 9to5!

If you'd like any 9to5 brochures, voter guides, or membership forms to help you recruit members, just contact our office at 404-222-0037. Good luck!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stay Connected to 9to5 Online

In the 9to5 Atlanta office, we've been learning A LOT about technology lately. After all of our hard work, you can now find 9to5's Atlanta chapter on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out!

If you're on facebook, you can join the 9to5 Atlanta Working Women group at here. And if you use the Causes application, you can also support our cause, listed under 9to5, National Association of Working Women. Find our cause here!

Are you on Twitter? If so, I recommend you follow @9to5atlanta. I'm a Twitter newbie, so I'm still learning how everything works... However, we'll write a few new tweets every week about all of our exciting work and upcoming events. Definitely check it out!

PS: pictures of the Atlanta Chapter are posted on Flickr, too!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Atlanta 9to5 Chapter Meeting!

Date & Time:
Saturday, June 20, 2009

11:30am - 1:30pm

The Lotus Palace

3470 Glensford Dr

Decatur, GA
Get directions here!

Join 9to5 members and leaders at the next Chapter Meeting!

You can...
* Develop Leadership Skills
* Learn How to Become an Effective Advocate for Economic and Social Justice
* Meet Other 9to5 Members
* Enjoy fun team building activities ...

A special prize will be awarded to the member who can name five (5) positions that will open for election in our state in 2010!

RSVP to member Leslie Hudson if you are attending this meeting: 404.645.9233

For more information about the meeting, contact Shyria or Yomara by phone: 404.222.0037.

See you there!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Helpline

When I told my boss I was pregnant, he said, "That’s unfortunate! You had so much potential." I'm afraid he's going to cut my hours – or worse, fire me. Is this legal? What rights do I have?

You are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act from being discriminated against in employment & employment decisions while you are pregnant. PDA says that all workplaces that engage in interstate commerce (using phones/the internet actually counts for this!) and have 15 or more employees cannot discriminate against pregnant women when making hiring/promotion decisions, cannot force a pregnant woman to take leave, and cannot deny pregnant women the same benefits they give to other "temporarily disabled" employees. Therefore, it is unlawful for your employer to cut your hours, refuse to promote you, or to fire you based solely on your pregnancy. And, if he should do so, that statement he made could be sufficient grounds for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trying times call for the Healthy Families Act

By Linda Meric
WeNews correspondent

Three cities have paid sick leave laws and many states are moving in that direction. With millions of workers lacking paid sick leave or care-taking time, Linda Meric says federal lawmakers need to act now.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

(WOMENSENEWS)--These are challenging times for America's families. One in 4 Americans, or about 23 percent of those surveyed in a recent Gallup Poll, report that they are "very worried" about keeping up with their monthly bills over the next six months. That's up from 19 percent a year ago and 15 percent in March 2007.

And while many of us are working harder than ever to keep pace under the current economic pressure, workplace duties are not the only duties we have.

Family responsibilities await us at home. That is why we must pass the Healthy Families Act, introduced in the 111th Congress on May 18 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, and Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, also a Democrat.

Workers still get sick. Children still get fevers and runny noses. Mom or Dad still needs to take them to the doctor or just stay by their bedside to nurse them back to health. No matter how dedicated workers are to hanging on to their jobs at all cost, the need to occasionally take time away from work never goes away--not even in a tough recession, not even when jobs are this hard to come by.

Unfortunately, nearly half of private sector workers in the United States don't have a single paid sick day to care for themselves. Additionally, nearly 100 million Americans get no paid time off to care for an ailing child or an aging parent.

Fewer "Wives" at Home

While this is an issue for all workers, the reality is that women, or "wives," have historically been tasked with the family care-giving responsibilities--and most families do not have a "wife" at home these days.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to a 2007 report by the Multi-State Working Families Consortium, "Valuing Families: It's About Time," less than 6 percent of all women in the U.S. were in the work force at the turn of the century. By 1950, that number had climbed to 24 percent; by 2000 to 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of single parents--mostly women--has also mushroomed and single mothers are working many more hours than they have in past years. Why? The Valuing Families report attributes this to pent-up demand among women for career opportunity and economic independence--and economic necessity. Simply put, over the last 35 years women's increased work and earnings has been the only avenue for many families to attain or maintain economic self-sufficiency.

Though the flood of women into the work force has been beneficial, it has raised an obvious question for families: how to provide all the care, support and supervision that children need without jeopardizing family economic self-sufficiency. For working women without paid sick days, occasionally staying home when a child is ill could mean the loss of a day's pay, or worse, the loss of a job.

It's a terrible choice that strikes fear in the hearts of all workers; a fear grounded in workplace reality.

Consequences of Time Off

In a 2006 survey, conducted by the Center on Work Life Law at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, 1 in 6 workers said they or a family member had been fired, suspended, punished or threatened by an employer for taking time off to care for themselves or a family member when ill.

This is all highly counterproductive.

Healthy workers are key to a healthy national economy.

Paid sick days reduce the business costs of turnover, absenteeism and lack of productivity when workers are sick on the job. In fact, if workers were provided just seven paid sick days annually, according to information released by the National Partnership for Women and Families in 2008, our national economy would enjoy an annual net savings of more than $8 billion.

Healthy workers also contribute to a healthy public. As public health experts and our own government have repeatedly warned as we contend with H1N1 swine flu, sick workers can protect public health by staying home. But they shouldn't have to pay the awful price of job loss and family financial instability to do so.

For all these reasons we need to pass the Healthy Families Act.

It would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to recover from their own illness, to care for a sick family member, or for diagnostic and preventative care. Equally important, it would allow workers time to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. Just as no worker should have to choose between pay and health, no worker should have to choose between pay and safety.
Need for Federal Policy

In the last three years, paid sick days legislation has passed in three cities: San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Milwaukee, where implementation is being held up by legal challenges.

This year, there are 15 active paid sick-days state campaigns. But what America needs most in these tough economic times is federal policy like the Healthy Families Act.

A broad coalition of women's, civil rights, health, children's, faith-based and labor organizations supports the act. It has more than 100 co-sponsors in the U.S. House, strong leadership from Ted Kennedy in the Senate and the steadfast support of the White House.

In accepting his party's nomination last August, President Obama said, "We measure the strength of our economy by whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job." Later he reiterated, "Now is the time to help families with paid sick days, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child or an ailing parent."

Congress must pass the Healthy Families Act. The President must sign it.

We must ensure that all families have the tools to be as healthy and as economically self-sufficient as possible as we move toward recovery in the days ahead.

Linda Meric, a nationally-known speaker on family-friendly workplace policy, is executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women. A diverse, grassroots, membership-based nonprofit that helps strengthen women's ability to win economic justice, 9to5 has staffed offices in Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Originally posted online HERE.

See how you can TAKE ACTION for the Healthy Families Act HERE! Just scroll down to the bottom of the page for a sample letter and contact information for your US Senators and Representatives!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Looking for bloggers!

Do you have something to say?

Are you a 9to5 member who went to the ALC with us in Washington DC? Did you receive good advice when you called the Job Survival Helpline? Have you attended any of the events for the Job Family Collaborative or the Minimum Wage Coalition? Have you interacted with your legislators recently? Did you just randomly stumble upon 9to5 on the internet and you want to tell us your story?

If you have something to say, let your voice be heard!

If you're located in metro Atlanta and are interested in writing a short blog entry for us, please leave a comment on this blog post or send an email to I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

looking for childcare?

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Introduces Statewide Child Care Referral Service

link to this press release:

ATLANTA, June 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Beginning today, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is introducing a new service to help families locate accessible, affordable, quality child care. By calling toll-free - 1-877-ALL GA KIDS - families can learn about licensed child care in one of Georgia's approximately 3,000 child care learning centers, 250 group day care homes, and 5,300 family day care homes all across the state.

Callers to 1-877-ALL GA KIDS will speak to trained staff from Quality Care for Children, an independent, not-for-profit organization with whom Bright from the Start has contracted to consolidate information about child care providers in all 159 counties and to oversee the new referral service. Quality Care for Children representatives will help families connect with child care providers in their area who are licensed, convenient to work or home, and within the family budget. They will also provide information and advice on how to select a qualified child care provider. A searchable database will also be available at

"Our goal is to equip parents with as much information as possible in order for them to make the best decisions for their families," said Dr. Holly Robinson, commissioner of Bright from the Start. "1-877-ALL GA KIDS is Georgia's source for parents to locate quality child care whether they are north in Fannin County or at the southern tip of the state in Lowndes County."

An estimated 64% of families in Georgia use child care, and demand is growing as more family members work outside the home. Quality Care for Children CEO Pam Tatum said as tough economic conditions put an additional strain on the child care services families use, more parents are turning to unlicensed providers who might cost less but aren't always safe or properly trained.

"In the 30 years Quality Care for Children has been operating, this may prove to be the most challenging time yet for the families we serve," Tatum said. "Many are overwhelmed by what's happened with the economy, and they're struggling to make difficult financial choices, so this referral program could not have come at a better time."

About Bright from the Start

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia's children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia's Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers federal nutrition programs, and manages voluntary quality enhancement programs.

The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education. For more information, go to

About Quality Care for Children

Quality Care for Children is Georgia's leader in equipping parents and child care providers with the tools they need to receive and provide high quality, affordable child care so that all children have access to superior early learning experiences and are ready for school. For more information, go to

Note: Quality Care for Children partners with 9to5 on the Georgia Minimum Wage Coalition! Check out their website above.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

Today, President Obama announced his nominee for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor. Of Puerto Rican descent, she was raised in a housing project in the South Bronx before going to college at Princeton and to law school at Yale. Her father died when she was nine years old and her mom worked full-time as a nurse, while raising her two children.

I don't know about you, but I'm really excited about this nomination for a few reasons: First, between Michelle and Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, and Sonia Sotomayor, working moms -- or people raised by single, working moms -- are in positions of power in never before seen numbers! Secondly, for the past three years, there's only been one woman (one woman!) serving on the Supreme Court. And, if confirmed, Sotomayor will be only the third (the third!) woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And, third, Sotomayor will be the first Latina (the first!) to serve on the Court in United States history.

The National Women's Law Center released a statement after Sotomayor's nomination, detailing the importance of this nomination for women everywhere. Check it out here.

Later this summer, the US Senate will be voting on whether or not to confirm Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice. When that time comes, check back here for information about contacting your Senators. Remember, your opinion counts!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We're in the News -- Please Take Action!

The editorial in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution was written by none other than 9to5's executive director, Linda Meric!

Stay home sick? Not an option for many workers

In light of the outbreak of swine flu virus in Mexico — and the 3,352 confirmed cases, so far, in the United States — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that “to stay healthy” people should cover their mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash their hands more often and avoid touching their eyes, mouth or nose.

The CDC also recommends that if you feel sick, you should stay home from work, limiting contact with others to keep from infecting them.

It’s that final recommendation that might prove the fatal flaw in health education efforts designed to avoid a swine flu pandemic in the United States.

Many American workers who feel ill can’t stay home from work.

They must go to work anyway because so many — 57 million workers to be precise — don’t have a single paid sick day.

Especially in this dismal economy, most workers cannot afford to help protect the public health by staying home when they are sick because doing so might mean that they lose a day’s pay, or even worse, their jobs.

Low-wage workers are the least likely workers to have jobs that allow them to earn paid sick days.

What does this mean for an America in fear of a pandemic flu virus?

It means restaurants, child care centers, nursing homes, hotels, public transit systems, schools and offices across the country could potentially be full of infected workers, who should be home in bed or at the doctor’s getting treatment, but will be on the job instead.

It means that instead of containing and minimizing public health risks, we’ll be maximizing them. It means many sick workers could be making other workers — and the public — sick.

Coming to work sick doesn’t help employers either. Workers who must report to work when they are ill are less productive. They don’t save money for business; they add to the costs of doing business.

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that has no state or federal law requiring paid sick days. As a result, half the work force has none.

In addition, 100 million workers lack a single paid sick day they can use to care for an ill child, spouse or parent. Not only do we lack a federal sick leave policy, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Milwaukee are the only cities that require employers to provide paid sick days for all workers.

Most Americans, though, believe paid sick days should be a basic right guaranteed by law.

Public opinion polls show that a majority consistently list paid sick days as “very important.”

Allowing workers to take short breaks from their jobs when their health, or the health of their families, demands it made sense to nearly 90 percent of people polled in 2007.

This basic labor standard is feasible, affordable and is good public and workplace policy.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are expected to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act in Congress this month.

It would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to care for themselves or their families.

Women’s, labor, education, community and other organizations all support this proposal.

Maybe this swine flu scare, along with the voices of the American people, will move our Congress to action.

To fight the spread of disease and ensure the public health, a basic labor standard for paid sick days is the remedy.

See the original article online here.

We're really excited about this local publicity around a nationwide Paid Sick Days campaign, but now we need YOU to take action! We'd love it if you could write a letter to the editor, expressing support for paid sick days as a basic labor standard. You can send an email to the AJC editorial board here.

Note: If you're interested in writing, but unsure of what to say, check out the National Partnership for Women & Families Support Paid Sick Days page.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Links!

Last week, I updated the layout of this blog -- I added links to partner & ally blogs so you can get more easily involved with and learn about other players in this working women's movement. (Not sure WHERE I posted them? They're in the righthand sidebar... just scroll down past About the Blog, Tags, and Blog Archives. Yep, right.... there!)

Among them, you'll find:

Making Change: This is the 9to5 national blog! Here you'll find insight from 9to5's national director, Linda Meric, about the nationwide working women's movement. So far, she's written about Equal Pay and Paid Sick Days. Check it out! (I'll also periodically post links to Linda's posts in my own posts on the Atlanta blog.)

The H.O.T. Line: At this blog, the Georgia Rural/Urban Summit, who partners with 9to5 on the GA Minimum Wage Coalition, keeps you up to date with what's going on under the gold dome during the legislative session. They also post important action steps on legislation that's important to you. It's a great way to keep up with the Georgia Legislature!

Moms Blogging: Moms Rising, who has helped 9to5 with lobbying in the past, operates this blog, where writers discuss many issues important to working women.

National Partnership for Women & Families Blog: An important ally in the fight for paid sick days nationwide, this blog will keep you up to date on what's going on with the Healthy Families Act!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prevent a Swine Flu Pandemic by Supporting Paid Sick Days Nationwide!

Hello, Atlanta 9to5 members!

I'm writing this from Washington DC (if I turned around, I could literally see the Capitol building out the hotel window!), where nearly 50 members and staff of 9to5 have come together for our 2009 Annual Leadership Conference. Tomorrow, we'll be going to Capitol Hill to meet with our Senators and Representatives, asking them to support family-friendly workplace policies, like the Healthy Families Act.

The Healthy Families Act, which would give workers nationwide seven paid sick days each year, has always been an important bill. But now, with our nation facing a potentially pandemic flu, we are in a unique position to ask our legislators to support this bill. President Obama, hoping to stop the spread of the swine flu, has been joined by governors and mayors across the country urging parents to keep their kids out of school if they become ill, and to stay home from work if they themselves feel sick. However, without paid sick days, many working moms and dads cannot afford to take time off work to care for their sick children or to stay in bed for a day or two while they regain their own health.

Even if you are not in Washington with us, you can still let your Congressmen and women know that you support the Healthy Families Act! Read 9to5's press release on the Swine Flu and the Healthy Families Act here. Then, send a letter to your US Representative, asking that he or she co-sponsor the Healthy Families Act. That letter can be found online here.

Thanks for taking action, and I'll see you back in Atlanta next week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TAKE ACTION for Equal Pay Day!

You can take action today by letting your US Senator know that you support the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is comprehensive legislation that updates the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It will:

*strengthen penalties courts may impose for violations of existing equal pay laws
*prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about or share wage information
*empower women to better negotiate for equal pay.

Approved by a bipartisan effort in House of Representatives, after the passage and signing of the historic Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, it is the next step toward ending wage discrimination.

Take Action by contacting your US Senator today! Click here for a link to a letter that can be sent from the 9to5 website!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How will YOU celebrate Equal Pay Day?

Did you know?
In Georgia, college-educated men on average make $64,000 per year, while college educated women only earn $46,000 per year? That means that women are making just 74 cents for every dollar that men earn! (Statistics from AAUW, can be seen here.)

Next Tuesday, April 28th, is Equal Pay Day
-- observed nationwide by women's, workers', and labor rights organizations. What will you be doing to commemorate this day?

Read more about Equal Pay Day on the 9to5 website to find out how you can get involved and support equal pay legislation! And, as always, let us know if you're planning or participating in any Equal Pay Day activities around metro Atlanta.

Have you been a victim of unequal pay? Tell your story through the 9to5 Voices Project!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why is it worth know knowing what you plan to teach?

By Leslie Hudson:

Take out a sheet of paper and write on it –democracy “for the people and by the people” and the word power; place your pencils down and let us begin....

Good morning and welcome to Introduction to Political Science 101. In this class we will learn about the different political theories and how they helped shape governments around the world; we will compare and contrast these world governments with the United States government and learn about the US democratic process. Also it is my great hope that each and everyone of you will leave this class valuing your selves more as US Citizens and Residents and use the knowledge gained here to improve upon how you see your American dreams and how you intend to live in it[this country].

In the syllabus is a layout of homework assignments, tests and projects that will facilitate two objectives. First, with your successful completion of these various assignments you will demonstrate what you have learned in this class and second, you will be fulfilling the Georgia performance standards for this class. In addition, by the end of this class I hope you will realize how great a country you live in and how your voices can be heard in the United States’ democratic process.

Now as you sit back in your desks with arms folded wondering why is this stuff so important outside of reaching educational standards, I want to share a quote with you from a wonderful professor, Dr. Finley, respectfully, “ The purpose of high school is to enculturate its students with how society works and the democratic concepts of all people having a voice in how they are governed and in understanding how they are governed and how to communicate such a way to be heard.”

In other words , I want you to walk away with the working knowledge of your role in the US democratic process on a local, state and national level and how to exercise your rights to vote, to lobby, to speak to your elected officials with concerns, to petition, and to organized in order to be heard.

Whether you realize it or not you are all unique US citizens. It is the way you walk , talk, dress , your political views, and where your live that determine your uniqueness and this is what shapes your voices in this democratic society. In the beginning of class I had you write on a sheet of paper the words, democracy “for the people and by the people” and the word power, you all are “the people” and your uniqueness is your POWER. Let me explain further, in the 2008 Presidential election “ for the people and by the people” is how Obama was elected to office. Whether some of you voted, made phone calls, had conversations about and/or wore t-shirts supporting the President- all of this could only take place in America. You class are “the people”, that possess exercisable power and voices that deserve to be heard and in this class I will give you the tools that will ensure they are heard collectively and individually.

Also in this class I want you to understand outside of your textbooks and notebooks that your social economic status in your communities is also your power to determine what in your communities you want to change or improve upon to enrich your American dreams and your quality of leisure time. An example an American’s Dream realized was your roles in the 2008 presidential election of Obama. How your leisure time can be maintained or improve upon by using the concepts and tools learned in this class about the democratic process is through petitioning for safer streets to skateboard on; or calling your local representatives about clean and safe parks to play tennis; or voting for street lights so you can play night ball may all be activities that are part of your leisure time, respectfully.

Now that Class is almost over take that sheet of paper and tape it to your notebook to remind you of the value of this class, and that you are the next generation who will have a significant say in how your government is to run, and you will be introduced to what and how democracy is and what your powers are in the democratic process in your lives and communities .

What I mean by power is your voices, each of you has a voice that deserves to heard individually and collectively around your concerns about your life, your community, your workplace and this country we share.

Comments by Leslie Hudson
9to5 Atlanta Chapter Member since 2008
Candidate for Master Degree in Secondary Education Social Science @ Mercer University
She looks forward to becoming a High School Political Science Teacher

Monday, April 13, 2009

In the News, part two

I don't have a computer or internet access at home, so every morning I get to work about a half hour early so I can have time to check my email & read up on the news before I start the day. Normally I watch "Meet the Press" or buy a $1 copy of the AJC on Sunday mornings & catch up on the weekend's news that way, but since yesterday was Easter, I was really out of touch with what's been going on by the time I got to work this morning. In addition to learning how to standoff with the pirates off the coast of Somalia ended (one word: Whoa!), there were two articles that pertained to 9to5 that drew my attention...

The second was from, about an increase in discrimination lawsuits as more and more workers are laid off during the recession.

Read the article here.

I don't have too many comments on this article... Instead, I just found it interesting that the number of discrimination claims and lawsuits has jumped so much in recent months. I operate the 9to5 Job Survival Helpline (1-800-522-0925) and I get a lot of questions about discrimination -- pregnancy discrimination, age discrimination, gender discrimination, among others. Women call me with questions about what's illegal (and what's not -- for instance, it's not illegal for a company to refuse to hire someone because they know that person is homeless!) and what their rights are if they have been discriminated against.

And just remember: Make sure you know your rights BEFORE you're discriminated against, so you can take necessary action against any discrimination that you experience. Any questions? Don't hesitate to call the Helpline.

In the News, part one

I don't have a computer or internet access at home, so every morning I get to work about a half hour early so I can have time to check my email & read up on the news before I start the day. Normally I watch "Meet the Press" or buy a $1 copy of the AJC on Sunday mornings & catch up on the weekend's news that way, but since yesterday was Easter, I was really out of touch with what's been going on by the time I got to work this morning. In addition to learning how to standoff with the pirates off the coast of Somalia ended (one word: Whoa!), there were two articles that pertained to 9to5 that drew my attention...

The first was on the New York Times website: a debate about how older workers are faring in the current economy. Men and women working for a variety of organizations, in varying fields, and with perspectives and opinions across the spectrum weighed in on issues such as age discrimination, healthcare coverage, and equal pay. Time and time again, as I was reading the article, I thought, "that's wrong!" or "but that's unfair!" or "that's illegal!" I was disappointed by the absence of an opinion that defended older workers and that supports legislation currently in place to protect them from discrimination in the workplace.

Want to read the article? It's available online here.

And so, I think this would be a good time to have a discussion about the rights of older workers.

In the article, Alicia Munnell, a professor at Boston College, says: "If we had data on quit rates — which we don’t — I bet the rate for older workers has dropped sharply. And long tenure and anti-discrimination laws make it hard to fire older workers. But older workers without jobs are a different story. No law can really prevent the 'not hiring' of older workers."

Not true. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers over the age of 40 from being discriminated against in any employment decisions. This means that older workers cannot be fired because of their age, but the ADEA also prohibits age discrimination in hiring, promotion, wages, and health care coverage, among many other things. So, anti-discrimination laws protect older workers from being fired because of their age, but it also protects them from not being hired in the first place because of their age.

Then, Laurence Kotlikoff goes so far as to suggest that "employers should simply pay you less with age." He thinks we should "modify the Age Discrimination Act by establishing a national age-productivity reference profile that employers can use to defend pay cuts they feel they need to impose on their older workers..."

Seriously?! This proposed "national age-productivity reference profile" completely defeats the purpose of the ADEA. It's a sadly common misconception that as a worker ages, they become less productive. This is untrue -- and an idea like Kotlikoff's simply adds fuel to this fire. Not to mention, it encourages unfair profiling. Older Americans have a right to work -- and to earn a fair wage -- just as much as younger members of the workforce.

So, what do you think?

Are you an older worker? If so, have you experienced discrimination in hiring or wages or firing... or in any other way? Have you heard people express opinions like the ones above? How do you respond? I'm curious. Let's continue the discussion the New York Times started...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Women and our education

I am about to graduate with a Masters degree. Two more weeks and I’m done! I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree about 15 years ago, but due to finances it took some time for me to finish school. Unfortunately, when I graduate I will have a substantial school loan to pay back and the sad part is that two-thirds of my loan went towards daycare for my son. It cost more for him to go to daycare than for me to get a Master’s degree at a state university. Go figure.....

Going back to school was difficult for a couple of reasons. First, I have a young son who demanded a lot of attention. It was often difficult to juggle the schedule, even with the support of a husband and two sisters living close by. Second, I was 39 when I started and I had been out of school for a long time. It was difficult to read, study, and write papers after years off from that routine. But once I started, I realized that the majority of my classmates were parents and that many of the younger students worked full-time while attending school. Some had kids and worked and went to class! We all had a lot on our plates. Also, technology has made research so much easier! I didn’t have to be at the library to do research or use a copier like the old days. I could go online at 2am if I needed and download articles in PDF. That was handy.

Data shows that for the past two decades, women have been graduating from college at higher rates than their male peers. Back in 1972, when I was just a little girl, the U.S. Department of Education passed Title IX, which intended to even out gender inequality in schools. With these and other actions to increase female enrollment, graduation rates of men and women were similar in the early 1980s. From this time forward, women started to catch up with men in college graduation rates. As of 2004, in the U.S., 58 percent of all bachelor's degrees were earned by women in the United States. Black and Hispanic women now earn an amazing 67 percent and 61 percent of all bachelor's degrees in their racial group. 57 percent of degrees awarded to whites are earned by women, and 52 percent of undergraduate degrees awarded to Asians are awarded to women. Despite gains in education, we still earn less due to gender, racial, and family status discrimination.

Nonetheless, I am so proud of myself and women (young and old, mothers or single, working or non) for taking steps to pave a better path for themselves through education. What about you? Did you go to college or are you in school now? What kinds of challenges have you faced as a student? Did you graduate? If not, what were the barriers and would you like to return? Share your challenges and accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Take Action for the Employee Free Choice Act!

the Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will make it easier for men & women to join unions in their workplaces. How?
  • EFCA will protect workers' rights by strengthening penalties against employers who fire or retaliate against workers during an organizing campaign or an effort to obtain a first contract.
  • EFCA will also allow the employer or the employees to request mediation if they are not able to negotiate a first contract, helping them to settle on a contract in a reasonable amount of time.
  • EFCA will allow workers to form a union if the majority of employees (50% plus one) sign union authorization cards. (Currently 100% of workers must sign on for the union to be recognized.)

Where is the bill now?
On March 10th, EFCA was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-California). The bill has widespread support in both houses of Congress and in the White House, but still needs our support to get passed.

What can YOU do?
First, educate yourself about the issue. Visit the American Rights at Work and the AFL-CIO websites to find more information about EFCA.

Then, contact Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, urging them to support EFCA. Find contact information for Chambliss here and for Isakson here. Or, if you'd rather send a pre-written email, ARAW provides one here. Unsure of what to say? Check out the AFL-CIO's key facts about EFCA.

Spread the word! Make sure your friends know you support this bill and encourage them to contact their senators, too. Click on the envelope (with an arrow on it) at the bottom of this post to send this blog post to your friends.

PS: Did you contact your senators? Did they reply? Please let 9to5 know what they're saying, either by posting a comment below or by emailing us at Thanks!

Monday, March 30, 2009

For Work-Family Flexibility, the Time is Now

By Linda Meric

In the workplace of the future, the words "work" and "family" will be connected by more than the obligatory hyphen.

In the workplace of the future, workers who are sick will have paid sick days so they can stay home for a day or two and take care of themselves - without fearing they will lose a day's pay, or worse, their jobs.

In the workplace of the future, working parents won't have to miss their child's big part in the school play or forfeit the chance for an important parent-teacher conference -- they'll have parental leave that will allow them to both do their jobs AND be good parents by being involved in their children's school activities.

In the workplace of the future, more workers will be able to utilize the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act for more reasons - and it will be affordable for them.

In the future, work-family flexibility will be more than something that we're working toward - it will be a reality.

Why is it important? Consider the case of Sherry Johnson, a Milwaukee grandmother and career data entry operator. Sherry began to have problems with her eyes and her doctor recommended eye surgery. She informed her employer, underwent the surgery, and let her employer know that she would have to take time to recover. After the recovery period, she called her employer again to inform them that she was ready to return to work. But rather than welcoming her back, she was fired. Her supervisor said it was because she took the time off for the surgery. Sherry tells her story (view it online here) because she wants her grandchildren to grow up in a future world where families are truly respected and all people are treated with dignity.

What happened to her is appalling. Even more appalling are these statistics: more than 57 million workers do not have a single paid sick day in which to take care of themselves in times of illness and more than 100 million workers don't have a paid sick day in which they can stay home and care for a sick child. Those least likely to have paid sick days are those who can least afford to lose their jobs: working women who head households and struggle mightily to make the dual demands of work and home work for both their employers and their families.

But pushing toward a future where flexible work-family policy is more than just a dream is about more than economic justice for women and their families. It's also a matter of public health, because child care, nursing home, restaurant and other workers who must go to work sick can make the rest of us sick. It's also a business issue because research has shown that those workplaces that offer flexibility to their workers are more profitable and have employees who are more productive. For all those reasons, paid sick days must be among the key policies that set the tone for the workplace of the future.

What are we doing to build a future of economic justice?

Paid sick days policies have already been enacted in San Francisco and the District of Columbia. And, this past November, the Milwaukee Chapter of 9to5, National Association of Working Women led the campaign that won paid sick days for every worker in the city of Milwaukee. Nearly 70 percent of the voters said "yes" to the paid sick days referendum but now the business community has decided to fight the voice of the people. Now, we'll have to wait ‘til at least May for a judge to uphold the voice of the people and the democratic process. We are confident that the paid sick days vote will stand.

The broad coalition that joined with 9to5 to win paid sick days has recommitted to the ideals of the workplace of the future. Activists in North Carolina, Massachusetts and California continue to fight toward a future where every worker has the right to take care of themselves and their families without jeopardizing their jobs. 9to5 members across the country are sharing their personal experiences through letters and meetings with elected officials and the media, speaking to other groups, and participating in local coalition activities that push toward a future reality. The Healthy Families Act, federal legislation that would guarantee that every worker has paid sick days, is on the table and more important than ever. Contact your US Senators NOW and urge them to support the HFA.

How long will we wait for a future with work-family flexibility?

We who believe in economic justice believe the time is NOW. To join with us, call our the 9to5 Helpline at 1-800-522-0925, email us at, or visit our website, for more ideas.

Meric is Executive Director, 9to5, National Association of Working Women

This blog post was originally seen on as part of fem2.0's blog carnival about women and work. View the original entry here.