Wishing Moms Everywhere A Happy Mother’s Day — With Progressive Policies!
It’s a fact of life that none of us would be anywhere without our moms. It’s also a fact of life that the Progress Report loves talking about progressive policies. So it’s natural, then, that on the Friday before Mother’s Day we will take the opportunity to share some of the reasons why our public policies lag behind for women and families — and why America’s mothers deserve better.
Here are five steps we can take right now:
1. Establish paid family and sick leave. Nearly all workers need to take time away from work to deal with a serious personal or family illness, or to care for a new child or aging parent. Access to paid family and medical leave could allow workers to meet those needs without jeopardizing their economic security. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee workers the right to earn paid time off in some form; only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. We need a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that allows workers to continue to earn at least a portion of their pay while they take time away from work: it’s good for families and its good for the economy, too.
2. Ensure equal pay for equal work. Women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, yet they continue to earn less than their male counterparts, with Latinas and African American women experiencing the sharpest pay disparities. Although the law prohibits unequal pay for equal work, there is more we need to do to ensure that both women and men enjoy the fullest protections against discrimination. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support, conservatives in Congress continue to be unwilling to move forward concrete action steps that could help uncover discriminatory pay practices, create greater pay transparency, and ensure that the law works fairly for everyone.
3. Raise the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage will help hardworking women better support their families. Women made up approximately two-thirds of all minimum wage workers in 2012. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which means someone working fulltime earns
$15,080 a year. That is below the poverty rate for a family of three. Progressives are stepping up on this issue: last week new legislation was introduced calling on Congress to raise the wage to $12 per hour and eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage, a move that would boost earnings for 19.6 million women.
4. Require paid sick days. Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Almost 40 million U.S. employees, or about 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days. If employees choose to skip work, the loss of pay can take a toll, particularly on the low- income workers who are least likely to have access to these policies. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days helps keep our economy, families, and communities healthy.
5. Expand access to preventative healthcare. Make no mistake, health care — from affordable insurance coverage to reproductive freedom — is an economic issue. In a 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, five conservative male justices on the Supreme Court gave unprecedented power to closely-held, for-profit, secular corporations to make health care decisions for their female employees. That needs to change — along with the minority of U.S. Senators who blocked a bill to overturn that decision. At the same time, conservative officials in some states continue to refuse to close the Medicaid coverage gap for low-income working families. In fact, it turns out Florida Gov. Rick Scott used his mother’s own death as a ruse in his political games to deny hundreds of thousands the right to affordable care.
Do you like what you are reading here? These and other important policy issues are part of a nationwide campaign called the Fair Shot campaign to help women and families get ahead. Check out the website here to learn more, and sign on to become a Fair Shot voter.
BOTTOM LINE: The mothers in our lives deserve the very best from us, and Mother’s Day is one easy way to show we appreciate them. But they also deserve the best from the employers and policymakers that can affect their ability to help their families succeed. Those officials who stand in the way should be more afraid than the child who forgets to call their mom this Sunday.
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