There are a wide range of issues that affect family economic security, but two that consistently rise to the top are: Access to paid sick days and equal pay. Today the White House announced two actions, addressing each of these crucial issues. MomsRising members across the nation, tens of thousands of whom provided comments in support of these actions and many of whom shared their personal experiences in these areas, applaud this direction which will lift families, businesses, and the economy.
The first action, requiring federal contractors to provide their employees with at least seven earned sick days a year, will go a long way toward removing the impossible choice too many working parents have to make between their paycheck and staying home to care for their own illness or that of a loved one. This measure lifts federal contractors like MomsRising member Katy, who shared with us that she had no paid sick days and when her entire family came down with the stomach flu she still had to go to work sick and couldn't care for her children. The new federal rule on paid sick days won't just benefit families like Katy's, it will also save businesses from losing dollars due to “presenteeism,” which is when employees come to work sick. In fact studies show the cost of “presenteeism” exceeds the cost of allowing access to sick days to businesses. This is a win-win policy and we applaud it moving forward.
The second action will affect even more working women – the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) summary of pay data by gender, race and ethnicity will make a huge difference in the enforcement of equal pay laws that help to close the wage gap. The most recent wage data showed that on average working women earned 80 cents to a man’s dollar, with women of color taking even larger wage hits of 63 cents and 54 cents, respectively. And moms of all races and ethnicities taking the greatest wage hits. Moms are now the primary breadwinner in more than 50 percent of families making this action an urgent necessity. Further, this action won’t just boost women, it will boost all of us. Studies show that pay parity boost women, families and our economy. In fact, the IWPR found that there would be a three percent increase in the GDP if there were pay parity.
Women are the primary breadwinners in many families today, making this outdated “Mad Men” salary gap not only unfair but also extremely harmful for our economy, but it persists, as Felicia from North Carolina wrote us:
As a young woman, I experienced blatant wage discrimination while working at a technical support center for a large retail corporation. I was hired on to work the exact same job as my brother-in-law, and after talking to him discovered that I was being paid about $4 an hour LESS than him, to do the exact same job. I went on to find out that ALL of the men at work, working the same job, with the same amount of experience, were making $4 an hour more than me - and, as it turns out, the women were making the lower wage like I was. I was outraged. I was also young and spunky—and didn’t have anyone else depending on me for my wages at the times—so I took the risk of calling out my boss on the situation. He listened carefully, and said “Let me get back to you.” He came back about 10 minutes later and told me I’d be bumped up to the higher rate, but reminded me that we weren’t supposed to share compensation information so I was not to discuss it with anyone else.
It’s time we put an end to this kind of blatantly sexist pay discrimination.
MomsRising strongly encouraged these actions: Nearly 25 thousand of our members submitted comments in support of these new regulations, and many shared their personal experiences in these two policy areas with leaders.
There is no question that President Obama and his Administration have been champions for our nation’s families and today they have proved it again. On behalf of the more than one million members of MomsRising, we thank them.