Monday, December 20, 2010

9to5 Atlanta's Fall Donor Update

Check out 9to5 Atlanta's fall donor update!  The publication highlights our Paid Sick Days Now! Day of Action, our Fair Eats Campaign, and features some of our newest staff members.  If you would like to receive a copy in the mail, email  If you would like to learn more about how you can support 9to5's work, go to

Friday, December 3, 2010

Child Nutrition Bill

A child nutrition bill was given final approval on Thursday in Congress. The bill sets new nutrition standards for school lunches, which have a major impact on the health of our children. The lunch program will feed more than 31 million children each day. This bill, which is hoped to reduce childhood obesity, was passed at a crucial time. Something needs to be done at a time when one of every three children in the United States is overweight or obese.

The bill allows nutrition standards to be set for foods sold in schools during the school day, including items in vending machines. The standards would require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Healthy food is more expensive so the bill will also increase federal reimbursement for school lunches. The bill would provide free lunches for over 100,000 children who are currently on Medicaid.

Opponents of the bill argued that it was just increasing government control. One opponent, Representative Paul Broun, Republican of Georgia said , “The federal government has no business setting nutritional standards and telling families what they should and should not eat.”

In my opinion, the passage of this bill is incredibly important for our country right now. With obesity rates higher than they have ever been, we need to change the way we eat in order to save America’s health. This bill will affect children in this country and hopefully have a positive effect on their future and the way they think about food. A few small changes can make a huge difference.

Jayne Mariotti, Jesuit Volunteer

Thursday, December 2, 2010

9to5 Atlanta Welcomes Fair Eats Organizer

9to5 Atlanta welcomes our newest staff member! Vanessa Faraj joined us as the part-time organizer for the Fair Eats Campaign on November 16th. Vanessa earned her Masters degree in Social Work from Georgia State University in 2009. Her previous organizing and development experience includes work with Amnesty International, Project South, and Georgia Stand-Up.

"I am absolutely thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to work with 9to5," says Vanessa. "Low-wage women all too often bear the biggest burden of unjust place conditions and stagnant wages; 9to5 seeks to expose and eliminate these injustices. I am excited to build the momemntum around the Fair Eats campaign as we build power to raise the minimum wage of tipped workers in Georgia!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I'm Still Fighting for the Paycheck Fairness Act

It would be an understatement to say that I was excited about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was up for a cloture vote in the Senate earlier this week.  Part of my job at 9to5 is to help with online social media—twitter and Facebook and such.  Asha, our online organizer, told me to get the word out; I’m not sure if she was expecting me to get the word out quite as enthusiastically as I did.  By the end of the day Tuesday, I was sending a tweet about the PFA every half hour—not because anyone told me to, but because I wanted to.  I blogged about it on the 9to5 website.  I posted Joe Biden’s statement on the PFA as my Facebook status.  Senator Grassley back in Iowa probably thinks I’m stalking him, I left so many messages at his office.

I came to work on Wednesday morning overwhelmingly excited.  I was part of a movement, and it felt great.  To use a phrase we like at 9to5, I owned the PFA.  I’d worked to get it passed, and now I felt like the passage of the PFA was a personal issue.

With a slowly growing sense of uneasiness, I watched the votes roll in.  First Sen. Brown voted nay, then Sen. Snowe, then Sen. Collins.  I sunk a little lower in my seat with each update, but I still held out hope for someone having a last minute change of heart.  Then all the votes were in, and, unbelievably, we’d lost.

This was the first time I’d owned a cause that lost.  I’d certainly cared about outcomes of political fights before, but I’d never felt a loss quite so poignantly and personally.  I have the good fortune to say that all the campaigns I’d been really invested in had been successful, up until this point. The defeat of the PFA brought up a hard question I hadn’t had to face yet: What do you do after you lose?

The answer that I’ve settled on, cliché as it is, is that you keep going, because some things are too important to give up on.  Every week, Jayne and I get phone calls from women whose coworkers honestly believe that women don’t deserve the same respect as men.  Giving up on the fight to show the world that women have earned that respect is too important to be brushed aside by forty-one nay votes.

So I’m looking forward to this next legislative session, in the “bring it on” sense of looking forward to it. Because that’s when we get another chance to convince more people of all genders, citizens and elected officials, that women deserve respect, and they deserve marks of that respect: for example, equal pay.  Everyone deserves to be shown their inherent human worth.

In the meantime, I will be writing a stern memo to my senator, Mr. Grassley. I encourage you to do the same to yours.

By Beth Miller, Lutheran Volunteer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Demand Your 23 Cents: Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

The statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doesn’t mean much to me anymore.  I’ve heard it so many times that I don’t even think about it.  On the surface, 23 cents hardly seems worth making a fuss over.

But it is worth making a fuss, and a big one at that.  Maybe instead of saying women make 77 cents on the dollar, we should say that women earn almost a quarter less than men in comparable jobs.  Worse yet, women of color make a little over half as much as white men.  Imagining my salary with an extra twenty-five percent on it suddenly makes those 23 cents on the dollar very relevant to my life and livelihood.

When I’ve mentioned the wage gap to acquaintances, some tell me that it exists because women choose lower-paying professions, don’t stay in school for as long, have less experience, or choose to stay home with children instead of working.  But according to a Catalyst study, male MBAs fresh out of business school, earned $4,600 more in their first year on the job than their female, childless counterparts (you can read the news story here).  It’s an inescapable conclusion: employers still pay women less than they deserve.
Since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, the wage gap has decreased by just a half of a cent each year.  Frankly, that’s not enough.  Women are still cheated out of an average of $10,622 each year.  What could you do with an extra ten thousand dollars next year?

Not only would equal pay improve individual women’s lives, it would benefit the country as a whole.  If women’s pay were equal to men in their same jobs, with their same experience, we could cut the poverty levels in this country in half.  In this economic climate, that’s no small thing.  At the moment, nearly four in ten single mothers live in poverty.  An extra 23 wents could go a long way towards providing for the families that rely on their wages to survive.

Not only do we need fair pay, we deserve it.  We deserve to be treated as equals, and so do our daughters, granddaughters, and all the women who will come after us.  We’ve earned that extra 23 cents.

The Paycheck Fairness Act will come up for a vote in the Senate this week. This bill is a crucial step towards pay equity.  Call your senators today and tell them that you’ve earned your 23 cents, and you want them to help you get it.

Contact your senators through 9to5's Action Alert, or call them at 1-877-667-6650. 

By Beth Miller, 9to5 Lutheran Volunteer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Casey Foundation’s Equal Voices Campaign: Words from a member

The Marguerite Casey Foundation is a major funder of the Georgia Minimum Wage Coalition, and therefore 9to5 Atlanta as a lead organization of coalition.

The Equal Voices Campaign is an effort to connect the grassroots, leadership education, and social justice organizing campaigns of the Casey Foundation's dozens of grantee organizations nationwide.
The annual Convening of Casey Foundation grantees was held in Chicago last month.  Marilynn Winn, chapter leader, and Charmaine Davis, lead organizer, represented the Minimum Wage Coalition and 9to5 at that event.
Below are Marilynn’s own words about her experiences:
"At the Marguerite Casey Foundation  Equal Voice Convention I gathered a multitude of information on what policy making means to the world, to me, people living in poverty, especially the low-income women of our nation.
"To me the positive progress of making and changing our policies is what the Marguerite Casey Foundation Equal Voice stands for. To pull together all the organizations that are funded by that foundation, to focus on strategies that are powerful, effective, and catchy. The enormity of multiple organizations' power is to transform lives.
"The Marguerite Casey Foundation Equal Voice is powerful but personal in their touch, and is able and willing to provide the help for the low-income women and people living in poverty.
"I give my gratitude and thanks to The Marguerite Casey Foundation Equal Voices for bringing together one thought, one mind, one heart. All together, this is strength and might for equal voices to be heard, through out our nation and the world."
For more information about the Casey Foundation, please visit

Friday, October 8, 2010

Support Striking Sodexo Employees

This past Wednesday I walked my first picket line. I marched with Morehouse College cafeteria workers, Morehouse students, and Sevice Employees International Union members protesting the unfair treatment of cafeteria employees by Sodexo Corporation.

Sodexo, a company which can be contracted by schools and companies to provide food service, is the world’s 22nd-largest employer. In 2008, the company revenues totaled $20 billion. And the recession isn’t slowing Sodexo down: In the first half of fiscal year 2009, its operating profits grew by 7.1%. And yet, Sodexo workers in four states are striking because they are being paid poverty wages and cannot afford the company-offered health care plan. 
Though many Sodexo workers are paid at a rate above the minimum wage, the yearly earnings of a worker making $8.50 an hour still fall well beneath the poverty line ($22,050 for a family of four). Earnings are even lower than they first appear: because Sodexo contracts work with schools and colleges, many workers end up unemployed during the summer. In order for a seasonal Sodexo worker to keep her family out of poverty year-round, she would have to make $14.50 an hour. Sodexo’s starting pay of $7.35 an hour falls far short. 
All of this would be enough to call for reform, but employees allege being forced to work off the clock and being denied proper overtime pay. Sodexo paid $80 million to settle a race-bias lawsuit filed by 3,000 employees, $60,000 for disciplining an employee who reported sexual assault, and $50,000 to an employee who claimed she was fired because she was pregnant. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration has cited the company for 160 violations in the last ten years, including two that resulted in fatalities. At the same time, Sodexo claims that advancing equal opportunity and supporting and valuing employees are fundamental values of the company. 
A business that advances equal opportunity would discipline those who commit race and pregnancy discrimination and assault, rather than those who report such actions. A business that supports employees would pay them a wage that would keep their families out of poverty. A business that values its employees would respond to safety hazards responsibly and quickly. Instead, Sodexo keeps its workers in poverty and fear. 
By Beth Miller, 9to5 Lutheran Volunteer

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hi! My name is Charmaine Davis. I’m the latest addition to the Atlanta 9to5 office. My first day was Monday June 28th. I’ll be working on the Work-Family, Election Connection and Minimum Wage campaigns as the Lead Organizer. I started my organizing career as a political organizer for Project Vote.

The first campaign I worked on was the Minimum Wage campaign in Ohio. I recruited, trained and managed a staff of over 40 field canvassers who collected over 250,000 petition signatures from registered Ohio voters who supported raising the state minimum wage. We were able to get the initiative on the ballot and mobilize Ohio voters to vote in favor of it. We successfully raised the minimum wage in Ohio from $5.15 to $6.85. This was a huge victory for low-wage workers in Ohio.

In 2007 as a community organizer in Flint, Michigan, I built the membership of Young Urban Voters, a branch of Project Vote, to over 2,500 members. I got the opportunity to work with and develop a lot of young adults and teenagers into active community leaders through one-on-one meetings and mentoring. Later in 2007, I was promoted to national staff with Project Vote, I managed several voter registration drives across the country that registered more than 1 million voters.

In 2009, I interned in the development department of a nonprofit in Chicago. I recently moved to Atlanta and I’m very excited about working with 9to5 and continuing to fight for economic justice!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Working Families Story Bank - Add Your Voice to Support Paid Sick Days!

The Working Families Story Bank is a collection of story portraits of workers and employers across America. Presented by the Family Values at Work Consortium, a national network of 14 regional coalitions, this story bank provides policy makers with a fact checked story resource as they consider regulatory and private sector approaches to issues of concern to working families.

9to5 Chapters in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Denver all contributed stories to the Story Bank - you can just click on your state to listen to the audio portraits of workers telling their story. In Atlanta both of our Community Internship Program participants - Jerrett Johnson and Marilynn Winn - contributed stories for Georgia about what not having paid sick days meant for them, their children, and their parents.

And we are still collecting stories!

Wondering if you might have a story to contribute? Here are some questions to think about:

Have your ever needed paid sick days or family leave but your job didn't offer it?

* How did this affect you?
* Did you lose your job?
* How did it affect your family?
* Did you experience financial difficulty?
* Did your child miss school?
* Did it prevent you from caring for an elderly parent?
* Do you think all employees deserve paid sick days and paid family leave?

If you answered yes to any of these questions -- we want to hear about it! To share you story contact or call 404-222-0037 to set up an appointment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Atlanta Chapter Meets with U.S. DOL Director of Women's Bureau

Yesterday, Atlanta staff as well as 9to5 member Marilynn Winn had the chance to attend a roundtable discussion with Sara Manzano Diaz, the newly appointed Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor. In attendance were the directors and members of dozens of Atlanta and Georgia based organizations all who share the primary focus of promoting the welfare of women and girls in our state. Ms. Manzano Diaz told her personal story of growing up in the Bronx as a child of Puerto Rican immigrants, and the formative experience of gaining the opportunity to move into public housing after living with her entire family in single room occupancy housing.

The discussion revolved around finding concrete ways that Ms. Manzano can move her national agenda of promoting pay equity and work/life balance policies including the Healthy Families Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, advancing women into higher paying and non-traditional jobs, and supporting the needs of women veterans.

Marilynn Winn reflects on the meeting and what it meant to her to be a part of a group of women working to help other women:

Today I had the opportunity to meet Sara Manzano Diaz, Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, along with many other powerful leading women who head many different organizations in Atlanta, and across Georgia. These women's goals are to help low-income women and families get out of poverty, and to educate, find resources, and encourage them to speak up and speak out about the problems that keep them bound in a life of poverty.

Being raised in poverty and still living in poverty now has given me the passion, courage, and drive to advocate for families like the family I came from. Every confererence and meeting I attend with these women working for change lets me know that help is out there, and if not it's is being talked about and planned. I have learned no matter where I came from, with the help of others, I can always do better. With each woman that spoke about what her organization offers I learned more about the tools to help myself rise out of poverty.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Get Ready for Change

"History, despite it's wrenching pain, can not be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again"
-Maya Angelou

9to5 has power and courage to fight for issues that many women face day to day. 9to5 is your chance to make change. I have been an intern for 9to5 for a short time and have already witnessed the impact 9to5 is making. Here at 9to5 you immediately notice the power that is being used to address issues like sexual harassment, work/family balance and equal pay. 9to5 understands these issues and are on the front-line working for change. The dedication is amazing and you can be apart of this too by becoming a member.

Our history hows us that facing issues like paid sick leave and equal pay are challenging but with courage, 9to5 is making change on a local and national level.

If you want change, knowledge and support--then 9to5 is here for you! So many people want and need progress. 9to5 is changing the workplace and changing the world for our past, present and future. Be a part of the change we need and join 9to5 as a member today!

Join 9to5 Today and Save $10!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Missed Women in the Halls? Come next Wed 4/14!

Thanks to all those 9to5 members who came to the Capitol yesterday - what a great turnout! We had such a great time, we're going again!

We were joined by new members Regina Holloway, Rochelle Payton, Carolyn Parker, Florence Roberts, Queen La Rosa Green, Janelle Williams, Alaina Reaves, and Gina Morrison, as well as 9to5 Atlanta board member Gloria Smith. Thank you for your participation and enthusiasm on the issues!

Yesterday the legislature was not in session and so many representatives were not at the Capitol, but they'll be back next week, and so will we! Women in the Halls has invited 9to5 members to join them again next Wednesday, April 14th for a chance to meet with your representatives.

If you couldn't make it yesterday, here's your chance! I'll be meeting up with any 9to5 members who want to participate, so just let me know if you'd like to go.

Information for next Wednesday, April 14th
8:30 -9:00am - arrive for registration, coffee and doughnuts
9:00-10:15am - Training on grassroots lobbying skills and talking points on bills
10:30-11:30am - Head to the Capitol to meet your representatives!

Coverdell Legislative Office Building 306 across from the Capitol building on Mitchell street.

Meet at IBEW building @ 8:15am for free parking and group transportation to the Capitol. 501 Pulliam St., Atlanta 30310 or take MARTA to the GA State stop. Call or e-mail for directions.

Let me know you're coming! E-mail or call 404-222-0037.

Some highlights from our visit to the Capitol yesterday...

* 9to5 organizers Cindia Cameron and Shyria Coleman updated us on the Parent Protection Act and Minimum wage bills.
* Women in the Halls staff gave us tips on how to write to our legislators.
* We wrote letters to our House representatives to drop off at their offices, and even caught Rep. Rashad Taylor at his desk!
* We ended with a tour of the Capitol building and learned how to find our legislators when the House and Senate are in session.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Make it Count in 2010! Have a voice!

by Jocelyn, 9to5 Intern

This year, I am really excited about the census and you should be too. My census came in the mail this week and I could not wait to open it. I have been anxiously waiting for it because I want my voice heard and I want to be counted. Once every ten years, the U.S. counts everyone. Every household is sent a questionnaire so that every American has an opportunity to be counted. Your completed census form determines how over $400 billion dollars will be allocated to communities across the country. Yes, even YOUR community.

Why is this so important? The data from the Census is used in 3 ways:
1. $400 Billion Annual Federal Funds Distribution
2. Congressional Seat Distribution
3. Age Search Information

According to, as of March 31, 2010, Georgia’s participation rate is a currently at 45% while national participation is at 50%. It is necessary for us to spread the word and get people to turn in their census forms! Based on population, federal funds will be divided to go towards job training centers, emergency services, neighborhood improvements, education, transportation and so much more.

Make sure your voice is heard! The population of each state determines how many representatives each state will have. If you don’t respond to the census, how will we have a voice in the U.S. House of Representatives?

The Census also uses your age search information for Social Security, retirement benefits and historical information.

100% participation is needed from every one. So much has changed over the past ten years, please send in your census and tell friend too. Be counted!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Join 9to5 at the Capitol Wednesday April 7th!

Working Families Day at the Capitol, Wednesday April 7

Join us as we head to the Capitol to support two crucial bills for Georgia's working families, and learn how a bill becomes a law!

We will be asking our legislators to support:

Parent Protection Act - Unpaid time off for school visits for children and medical appointments for elderly parents.

Raise the Minimum Wage
- Raise the state minimum wage and increase the tipped worker wage.

Date: Wednesday, April 7th

Time and Schedule:

8:30 -9:00am - Arrive for registration, coffee and doughnuts
9:00-10:15am - Training on grassroots lobbying skills and talking points on bills
10:30-11:30am - Tour the Capitol and contact your legislators!

Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Room 306
18 Capitol Square, Atlanta 30334, located across the street from the Capitol on Mitchell Street

How to get there:

* Meet at IBEW building @ 8:15am for free parking and carpools to the Capitol
501 Pulliam St., Atlanta 30310
*Be sure to let us know if you're joining us for carpooling so we can plan for enough transportation - call or e-mail for directions and to RSVP - 404-222-0037 or
* MARTA directions
-exit GA State MARTA stop
-head SW on Piedmont Ave. towards Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SE
-Turn right at Capitol Square SW
-Turn right to stay on Capitol Square SW/ Mitchell Street
-Coverdell Office Building will be on your left

Let us know you're coming! RSVP to: or call 404-222-0037

This event is sponsored by 9to5 Atlanta Working Women in coordination with the GA/Job Family Collaborative and the GA Minimum Wage Coalition.
For more information on the sponsors of this event visit -

Friday, March 5, 2010

Half the Sky broadcast for International Women's Day

My mom gave me the book Half the Sky for Christmas this year, and although I hadn’t heard anything about it before I started reading, by the time I got off the plane from LA to Atlanta I was one hundred percent hooked. Even before I had finished, I was already its biggest fan, telling anyone who would listen that they had to read it (which I will still tell you if you ask).

Co-written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky chronicles the most widespread and culturally ingrained practices of violence and neglect that women experience around the globe. It focuses on issues such as sex-trafficking of under-aged girls, the killing of female babies in Asian countries, bride burning in India, the appalling maternal mortality rates due to of a lack of basic healthcare access, and the flat out denial of education to girls in many countries. Kristof and WuDunn’s goal in writing the book was not only to raise awareness about these commonplace tragedies around the globe, but to convince the American public that it is their responsibility to take action, and to get anyone who picks up Half the Sky to begin doing so immediately after finishing the last page.

Although it may be too early to tell if their book can spur the type of mass mobilization that the authors are hoping for, it seems that I was not alone in finding Half the Sky to be more than just a compelling read. Its success within the first few months of the release led Kristof and WuDunn to partner with the organization CARE to organize an event for International Women’s Day and broadcast some of the stories of women told in the book to theaters across America.

So I headed to the movies yesterday with my roommates to attend this one night only event. The set-up was a live concert streamed from the Skirball center at NYU, which included musical performances by artists like India Arie and Diane Birch, as well as several celebrities that took the stage (Marisa Tomei, Maria Bello, Sarah Ferguson) to read excerpts of women’s stories from the book alongside picture images. It also featured a short film portrayal of one of the stories of a girl named Woineshet from Ethiopia. She was the victim of the cultural practice of bride abduction, where a girl is kidnapped and raped by a man who then forces her to marry him afterward to avoid paying a dowry as well as any punishment for the rape. It was the first of several documentaries to be made into a TV series that will tell these women’s stories to an even wider audience.

Like the book, the event tried not only to tell stories but to compel action, even with smallest step – each new speaker asked the audience to text “sky” to 30644 to get involved in Care and support the International Violence Against Women Act. As I sit here and wonder how many people will actually take the event’s message to heart and take real steps to create change, I realize that I, in fact, never got around to sending that text. Which is what I’m about to do right now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

9to5 Atlanta Launches "Fair Eats" Campaign to Raise Tipped Worker Min Wage

9to5 Atlanta officially kicked off it's 'Fair Eats' Campaign to raise the tipped worker minimum wage. The tipped worker min wage has been stuck at $2.13 for 19 years, and there is currently legislation in the state House, HB 290, that would raise it to $3.63. At the "Show Your Server Some Heart" press conference at Noni's restaurant on Edgewood last Saturday, 2/13, 9to5 Atlanta members spoke out telling their personal stories about struggling to make ends meet on $2.13.

Darci Rondehi, a server at Noni's, explained that $2.13 is supposed to be a deposit on the $7.25 federal minimum wage, and that if a server is not making at least 7.25/hr, the employer should be making up the difference. Member Ebony Thomas testified in front of the legislators of the Black Caucus at the Poor People's Day Hearing on Jobs and Wages on 2/11. She spoke about her struggle to support her children as a server earning $2.13. Watch these inspiring women share their stories here!

9to5’s Min Wage Campaign will have an interactive web page that will allow servers to rate their restaurants (using the criteria below), spotlight restaurants who join our efforts, share progress on public policies that will increase the tipped min wage and highlight servers’ testimonies. Stay tuned for this exciting website!

Here is the break down of how we'll be rating restaurants:

“Measuring the ‘♥’ of Restaurants throughout GA and Beyond!”
1-My guaranteed hourly pay (do not include tips) is:

0-This employer doesn’t have a heart
♥-“Taking baby steps”-$2.13 and honors min wage requirement by paying server the min wage difference when the server doesn’t make min wage via tips
♥♥-Okay-Base Pay $2.14-$3/hr
♥♥♥-Pretty Darn Good-Base Pay$3/hr or more

2-The benefits at my restaurant (server can self-define but can include vacation time, medical, sick time, shift meal, etc)

0-This employer doesn’t have a heart
♥-“Taking baby steps”-Offers a lil something perhaps shift meal, sick or vacation time
♥♥♥-Pretty Darn Good

3-Schedule Flexibility-Does your restaurant accommodate schedule needs?

0-This employer doesn’t have a heart
♥-“Taking baby steps”
♥♥♥-Pretty Darn Good

6 ♥’s earns restaurant window decal that states this restaurant has ♥! The restaurant will be spotlighted on the webpage and we’ll email thousands of people in GA emails with our preferred restaurant list. Together we represent ten of thousands of people who are interested in supporting businesses that are respectful to workers and community

Thursday, February 11, 2010

$2.13 is NOT ENOUGH! Raise the tipped Min Wage in GA

Check out this GREAT video on why $2.13 is NOT ENOUGH!

And join us THIS Saturday, 2/13

Noni's restaurant - 357 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta GA 30312
Press conference @2pm

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Women Still Seek Paycheck Equity

Atlanta Journal Constitution - 2/5/2010
By Linda Meric - Executive Director of 9to5

View the original:

A year ago, dozens of women’s and civil rights activists gathered at the White House to watch President Barack Obama sign his first piece of legislation into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.

The signing was a triumphant moment — especially with its namesake, Lilly Ledbetter, standing with us. The bill restored the ability of workers to seek redress for ongoing pay discrimination and its importance to ending inequity cannot be overstated.

But another year has passed, and pay discrimination persists.

The most recent U.S. census statistics show that the pay gap between men’s and women’s earnings actually widened slightly between 2007 and 2008, from 77.8 (generally rounded to 78 percent) to 77 percent.

Based on the median earnings of full-time, year-round workers, women’s earnings were $35,745 and men’s earnings were $46,367.

The gap in median earnings for women of color is even wider. In 2008, the earnings for African-American women were $31,489, 67.9 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 68.7 percent in 2007), and Latinas’ earnings were $26,846, 58 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 59 percent in 2007).

In fact, if you look at the National Committee on Pay Equity’s “The Wage Gap Over Time” table, you’ll see how little the gap has changed in this century. There’s still a battle to make things right.

Lilly Ledbetter thought she had won her battle years ago. As a manager at the Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., for 19-plus years, she received the top performance award and was one of four area managers — and the only woman — selected to initiate light truck production at the Gadsden Plant.

Then, the plant was about to close. Lilly Ledbetter decided to retire. Just before she left, someone slipped her an anonymous note that compared her salary to that of three male counterparts.

Though she had always suspected pay discrimination, when she was hired she had agreed to never discuss salaries with other workers.

Until the note, she had no way of knowing she was being underpaid because of her gender.

Ledbetter filed suit. She won, but on appeal, the Supreme Court ruled against her in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, overturning her original jury award, because she hadn’t filed a charge of discrimination within 180 days of her first discriminatory paycheck.

The court’s 2007 decision against Ledbetter reversed more than 40 years of employment law interpretation and implementation.

Although she received no monetary awards for her fight against pay discrimination, her story led to the introduction of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act in 2007, which passed the House and Senate in January 2009 and was signed into law by the president on Jan. 29, 2009.

Lilly Ledbetter has become an icon of the movement for fair pay.

Still, the Ledbetter Act was only the first hurdle.

Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act is the critical next step to build on the Ledbetter bill. It is comprehensive legislation that updates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and strengthens penalties courts may impose for violations of existing equal pay laws.

It also prohibits retaliation against workers who inquire about or share wage information, a critical protection for women to be able to find out if they’re being paid fairly and to do something about it if they’re not.

While Ledbetter restored the law, Paycheck Fairness strengthens it and plugs loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the House of Representatives alongside the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 with more votes than even the Ledbetter Act. But action by the Senate is pending.

In these tough economic times, no one can afford to be shortchanged by pay discrimination.

But pay discrimination is more perilous now than ever, when so many more families depend on the wages of a woman to make ends meet.

In honor of Lilly, the time to speak out and take action is now.

Linda Meric is executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Show Your Server Some Love on 2/13

THIS SATURDAY- Show Your Server Some LOVE on 2/13

When: Saturday, February 13th, 2:00pm to 2:30pm
Where: Noni's restaurant - 357 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30312

On 2/13 the 9to5 Minimum Wage Committee will hold a press conference and kick off our campaign for better wages, starting with raising the tipped Minimum Wage above $2.13! The time is now - There is currently a a Federal bill, the WAGES Act HR 2570 sponsored by Rep Donna Edwards, that would gradually raise the tipped Minimum Wage initially to $3.75, In 2011 to $5.00 and by July 1, 2012 to at least $5.50/hr. The Min Wage Committee believes this bill is very important to the livelihood of many servers and tipped workers.


The minimum wage for tipped workers has been $2.13 for the last 18 years. While profits and living expenses have increased, servers' wages have remained the same. In GA, the general state minimum wage remains at $5.15 while cost of living requires someone to make at least $12/hour to survive in the city of Atlanta.

Our local legislators continue to ignore these issues while more and more people are living under bridges, in shelters, and in temporary housing and substandard living conditions. The Minimum Wage Committee of 9to5 is working to address these issues and improve quality of life in GA!

Contact your Representative TODAY using 9to5's Action Alert on the WAGES Act which would establish a base minimum wage for tipped employees. Click here to take action!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Glass Ceiling Shattering for Women in France

by Stacy Sheets
9to5 Atlanta Member

I couldn’t be more excited and proud of France as I am this morning. Their government just passed a bill which requires companies’ board members to consist of at least 40% women. Currently, the presence of women on corporate boards in France is less than 8% - amongst the lowest in Europe. The bill was passed to help with compensation and career advancement for women. Here’s the greatest part too - their government chamber who passed this bill was mostly men. Females are only 17% of this voting chamber.

Requiring a larger number of women on corporate boards isn’t just good news for highly skilled, advanced working women eager to grab one of these seats. It’s also likely to change how companies look at maternity and family/work life.

Other successful countries who have passed similar bills are Norway, Spain and the Netherlands. Other countries thinking of passing similar bills are Belgium, Britain, and Germany. I’d love to see the United States be added to that list. In corporate American, women constitute 15% of Fortune 500 companies’ board members.

For more coverage on this topic and to learn about how French company L’Oreal incorporates family and maternity benefits, check out this story on NPR:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's start talking about work/ family balance

When I think about my friend and 9to5 Atlanta Chapter member Leslie Hudson I recall a comment she made one day in reference to her then current employer. We were talking about the challenges we faced as single mothers. Leslie expressed frustration over the long hours she was forced to maintain at her job as a chef in a local restaurant. Leslie worked long hours to meet the financial needs of her household because she was paid an hourly wage. Leslie was often unable to take time off from work when she or her son was ill because she could not afford to lose the daily pay. When she was forced to take time off because her son was had an issue at school, her employer told her that her lifestyle did not work [for the employer] and she should consider finding new employment.

Leslie is one of many women in my personal life who have shared this type of experience with me. During my experience as an organizer with 9to5 Atlanta I have met many more women who share the experience of feeling marginalized by an employer because they struggle to balance family responsibilities with work obligations. Before I became an organizer at 9to5 my friends and I would complain about the lack of time available to focus on the needs of our families while pursuing our careers. At that time my friends and were not aware of the impact public policy had on our issue. We were complaining about the emotional and physical fatigue we were experiencing trying to “do it all”. We discussed the impact on our relationships with our partners, children and each other. We expressed anxiety over the upward mobility of our careers, and agonized over the possibility that a glass ceiling does exists. Could it be that our commitment to our families could be the very reason we were no longer viable candidates for the promotions and the professional accolades our childless peers seemed to be enjoying?

As an organizer I have become aware of the need to engage more working individuals with family care responsibilities in the dialog to craft workplace policies that provide access to family supportive benefits. During the month of February you can participate in a series of radio blogs on the subject by visiting You can also learn more about bringing family values to work by visiting or by calling 404.222.0037. You do not have to feel isolated or guilty anymore. Do something about it today and join the movement to bring raises, rights and respect to the modern workplace.

To learn more about Leslie's story please click on this link:

Friday, January 15, 2010

MLK Day Parade - Join 9to5!

When: Monday Jan. 18, 12pm to 3pm
Where: meet at corner of Peachtree and Harris street

The march is fun and lively and provides our chapter with a GREAT opportunity to spread the word about 9to5’s current legislative campaigns to increase the minimum wage and gain job protected family leave. Bring your children, strollers and chanting voice! Call 404.222.0037 for more information or email

The chapter usualy has a small delegation of mebers in the parade; we your chapter NEEDS your voice & participation in 2010 to bring attention to our issues! The more pople we have the more of a presence we'll be in that march. Join us and bring a freind or two. We hope to have at least 20 members join us this year @ the parade. Go ahead and JUMP START your activism activities with 9to5! If not you, then who?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our next Minimum Wage Committee meeting is:

Thursday, Jan. 14th at 6:30 pm.
location - 9to5 Atlanta office (IBEW Building)
501 Pulliam St., Atlanta 30312

We wil be planning our upcoming February event Show Your Server Some Love - $2.13 Is Not Enough! to raise awareness about efforts to raise the tipped worker minimum wage here in Georgia.

We hope you can make it - we need your input to make this event a success!