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!