On August 29th, in honor and in continuation of the March on Washington 50 years ago, I will join friends, family, and my community on a march for good jobs
. The march is organized by low wage fast food and retail workers, under the banner of 'fight for 15' who are demanding a living wage and jobs with justice.
Much of my work at MomsRising centers around the state of jobs in this country -- specifically on workplace protections like paid sick days, paid family leave, and fair pay. Consistently, people of color bear the largest burden when it comes to companies withholding these basic benefits.
Anyone who insists that we are a 'color blind' or post-racial society, need only look at the statistics on workplace protections to see systemic racism rear its ugly head. 80% of low wage workers, who are disproportionately people of color, cannot access a single paid sick day. This means a mama can be fired if her child gets sent home from school sick and she needs to leave work to care for her. Our federal family leave law offers only unpaid leave and requires a lengthy job tenure and working for a company with at least 50 employees -- which means most people cannot afford the leave. And people who work as domestic workers or have poor job security will never qualify.
Speaking of job security, the black unemployment rate is around double the rate for white Americans. (If you think that has nothing to do with racism, check out this experiment by Yolanda Spivey). Even after the barriers of hiring discrimination, people of color are hit with wage discrimination too -- Latina women and Black women make 55 and 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men in the same jobs and men of color do not fare much better.
We have greater wealth gaps than we did 50 years ago. We're a country of great wealth where a mother working full time can still live in poverty. It's time for jobs with justice.
Critics of these important workplace protections call them job killers -- and I can imagine that the same critique was raised when we outlawed US slavery. Just because you can pay someone $2.15 (or $7.25) an hour, doesn't mean it's right. Just because you can hire 2 part-time workers and skip out on pay and benefits for a full-time worker, doesn't mean you should. We deserve better than that. If you can't afford to hire someone in a way that recognizes and respects their humanity, then you can't afford to employ them. Our society can't afford bad jobs. We need jobs that build strong families. We need jobs with justice.
You can join the fight for Paid Sick Days, Paid Family Leave, and Fair Pay by joining MomsRising today.