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 AJC.com, 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 activist@9to5.org. Thanks!