MomsRising Together: Top Priorities for 2017
Modernize workplace policies to boost families and the economy: MomsRising urges the administration and Congress to prioritize the following policies to improve families’ economic security and the boost the economy.
*Priority policies include: Equal Pay, Paid Family/Medical Leave, Childcare, Maternal Justice (Gun Violence Prevention, End Mass Incarceration & Police Reform), Protect Pregnant Workers, Earned Sick Days, Healthcare, National Budget, Immigration Policy Reform, Healthy Kids, and Fair Scheduling.
*NOTE: The order in which the priorities are listed below do not reflect any internal ranking of our policy priorities in any way.
1. EQUAL PAY:
Support Policies That Promote Equal Pay, Pay Transparency, and help to close the women and mothers’ wage gap, including:
● Support and Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act - The Administration should use the bully pulpit to call on Congress to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. pay discrimination laws.
● Promote Bans on Salary History Requirements: The Administration and Congress should also work to ensure that employers are barred from requiring job candidates to disclose previous salary histories which contributes to the wage gap over time.
● Salary Review Audits for Gender Bias: The Administration and Congress should conduct their own agency reviews/audits of salaries to ensure that gendered bias is being rooted out and eliminated and continue to highlight, as models, private companies that are doing the same.
● Raise the Federal Minimum Wage and Include Tipped Workers: MomsRising supports raising the minimum wage, as well as eliminating the tipped wage, and indexing it to inflation in order to move more families towards a livable wage.
● Lift up That Multiple Approaches Are Needed to Close the Wage Gap: Acknowledge that closing the wage gap requires multiple approaches and use the bully pulpit to shine a light on various was to close the wage gap. Closing the wage gap and ending discriminatory pay practices isn’t as simple as passing one single piece of legislation. Studies show that passing family economic security policies – like paid family/medical leave, affordable childcare, sick days, and a living wage – all help lower the wage gap. In addition, pay transparency and non-discrimination policies help close the wage gap, too.
2. PAID FAMILY/MEDICAL LEAVE:
Advance both a national paid family/medical leave policy, as well as support the efforts at the state and local level to pass paid family and medical leave that are necessary to advance a federal policy.
● Paid Family and Medical Leave: The Administration should prioritize the introduction and swift passage of a national paid leave program that covers all people -- employers and employees--attached to the workforce, including self-employed people, for at least 12 weeks of job-protected paid family and medical leave they can use when a new child is born, adopted or placed through a foster care system; when a family member faces a serious health condition and needs care; when the worker them self faces a serious health condition and needs treatment or recovery time; or when a military family needs time to address the exigencies of employment or to care for a wounded service member. This proposal must provide adequate wage replacement of at least ⅔ of workers’ typical wages, preferably with higher levels of wage replacement for lower-wage workers, and should include a broad definition of the kinds of family relationships permitted for family caregiving. Most important, this system must include an adequate and sustainable revenue stream to ensure the strength and integrity of this program now and for generations to come, and to make paid family and medical leave available to employees of both smaller and larger businesses in affordable, sustainable ways. State paid family and medical leave programs provide a strong model, as does the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) introduced in the 113th and 114th Congress's.
● Expand the FMLA: The FMLA was an important start, but the law has significant gaps that leave forty percent of all workers ineligible for FMLA leave and it currently only provides unpaid leave. In addition, the law also fails to recognize that, in today’s families, workers are caring for siblings, grandparents and other close relatives – individuals who are not covered by the FMLA. Those workers left out include: Workers in businesses with fewer than 50 employees; Part-time workers (an increasing portion of workers, as businesses reduce their hours); Workers who need time off to care for seriously-ill domestic partners, children of domestic partners or many seriously-ill elderly relatives (especially problematic as the population ages). Parents also need to be able to attend meetings with their child's teachers and school administrators without risking their job or disciplinary action at work.
● Modernize paid leave for the military: Issue directives to the Department of Defense and urge Congress to modernize paid leave for the military by equalizing the duration of leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents and work with Congress to expand paid leave for DOD personnel to include family caregiving as well.
3. EARLY LEARNING/CHILDCARE:
Increase Access to High-Quality, Affordable Early Childhood Education & Childcare: High-quality early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make for the short and long-term health of our children, families, and the economy. Excellent birth to five programs more than pay for themselves by preventing achievement gaps and producing better outcomes in education (including home culture and language support), social-emotional development, health, personal productivity and economic vitality. Our young children don't have enough affordable, high-quality early learning opportunities. The investments outlined below will go a long way toward fixing that.
· Increase investments in high-quality early learning programing, workforce, infrastructure, and quality supports that prioritize the needs of marginalized communities - including the Child Care Development Block Grant, Head Start, Early Head Start, and expansion of state PreK programs
· Expand and improve the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
· Reauthorization of Head Start
· Reauthorization of the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program
· Expand access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program
4. MATERNAL JUSTICE – STOP GUN VIOLENCE, END MASS INCARCERATION & POLICE REFORM:
· Gun Violence Prevention - Protect Our Families and Communities from Gun Violence: Guns injure or kill close to 90 Americans every day. Mass shootings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL, are recurring reminders of our gun violence epidemic that claims more than 30,000 lives a year. With 90% of Americans in favor of background checks on all gun sales, we have virtually universal agreement that there should be reasonable limits on gun ownership. MomsRising works to secure the following outcomes:
o Universal background checks
o Bans on military-grade assault rifles and on high-capacity magazines
o A strong federal anti-gun trafficking law with stiff penalties to discourage straw purchasing.
MomsRising also supports funding for evidence-based community anti-violence programs that have proven to reduce the risk of gun violence in highly impacted communities. We support repealing Stand Your Ground Laws, common in many states, which facilitate racial profiling, casual gun culture, and are a huge step backwards for civil rights. We also call for federal, state and local reforms to curb police shootings of civilians with transparency and accountability.
· End Mass Incarceration: 1,000,000 women, mostly mothers, are under criminal justice supervision in the United States. Two-thirds of the women in federal prisons are serving time for challenges related to nonviolent drug abuse. They need treatment and counseling, not incarceration. Our justice system is failing families, hurting our economy and in need of some serious reforms. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, which is nothing to brag about. In fact, we are living in a time when more than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. Harsh sentencing practices have done more harm than good. Strict penalties designed to combat the distribution of illegal drugs have done little to stem the drug trade; instead the result has been a massive sweeping of people experiencing challenges related to drug addiction into an ever-expanding criminal justice system that directly fractures families and hurts our economies. We urge Congress and the next presidential administration to act on sentencing reform and to end mandatory minimums.
· Police Reform: In 2014, we launched our national racial justice and police reform campaign with partners like ColorofChange.org and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. We worked to push forward demands to bring greater independent oversight, transparency, accountability, and justice for victims of police brutality and misconduct. Our actions supported and lifted up the stories of moms who lost their children to police brutality and extrajudicial killings like Sybrina Fulton, Leslie McSpadden, and Sylvia Fernandez. Mothers should never have to fear that our children could come to harm at the hands of those charged with protecting them. Our demands continue to be:
o A fully-resourced and rigorous civil rights and criminal investigation by the DOJ into discriminatory policing, excessive force, and death or injury by police in every state in the country;
o A comprehensive, streamlined, public national-level database of police shootings; excessive force, misconduct complaints, traffic and pedestrian stops, and arrests, broken down by race and other demographic data, with key privacy protections, the exclusion of personally identifying factors and information, and deportation immunity for civilians;
o Mandating of Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) in every state and inter-state coordination between all POSTs;
o An executive order that creates a strong and enforceable prohibition on police brutality and discriminatory policing based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status;
o Increased funding for the DOJ's Office for Civil Rights to ensure additional, accessible state-level responders for police and other civil rights violations Divestment of federal anti-drug grants and federal funding for police departments that demonstrate abuse of power and massive reinvestment in community controlled and based policing practices;
o Support for the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA);
o Streamlined national use of force matrix and mandating that state and local police have clear and streamlined matrices; and
o Enforce new strict limits on asset seizure without due process and the transfer of any military equipment to local law enforcement under the 1033 program, guidelines that ensure that the equipment is not used on non-violent protesters, and an end to the requirement that such military weaponry is used within a year.
5. PROTECT PREGNANT WORKERS:
● Support passage of the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act: Congress needs to pass and the President needs to sign into law the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make the same sorts of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they already make for disabilities, ensuring pregnant women can continue to do their jobs and support their families.
6. EARNED SICK DAYS:
● Urge Congress to prioritize passage of the Healthy Families Act: The HFA would enable millions of workers the ability to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to be used to recover from their own illness, access preventive care, or provide care for a sick family member.
● Protect and enforce previous Executive Actions: The Administration must also work to protect and enforce the Executive Actions and regulations put in place by the previous Administration to expand coverage of earned paid sick days to federal workers and federal contractors as well as instruct agencies to study the impact of earned paid sick days to determine the impacts of cost savings to businesses and to our economy.
· Ensuring a Strong Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Medicaid and CHIP provides healthcare coverage for more than one half of our nation’s children and are essential to our nation's health and wellbeing. Medicaid is the foundation for the expansion of healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Therefore, MomsRising opposes proposals that arbitrarily cut Medicaid, make structural changes to the program (for example a cap or block grant), and shift a fiscal burden to the states. Ultimately, these proposals would transfer the burden to seniors who depend on the program for long-term care, people with disabilities, children, and families. We oppose all harmful cost shifting such as: (1) Converting the program to a block grant; (2) Imposing a per capita cap or any cap on Medicaid spending that inevitably would result in drastic cuts to patients and health care providers who rely on Medicaid; and (3) Any other proposal or waiver that would cut or otherwise undermine Medicaid and CHIP.
8. NATIONAL BUDGET:
National Budget - End the sequester, raise revenue by requiring the richest Americans and big corporations to pay a fair share of taxes, cut wasteful Pentagon spending, and make investments to support women, families and the economy: Any budget must protect key programs like Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, WIC, SNAP, child care assistance, child nutrition, and Head Start, that both stimulate our national economy and that women and their families depend on to improve their health, obtain quality child care and higher education, and help them meet their basic needs during difficult times and as they age. More than just ending the sequester and protecting these programs, we must also invest more in critical domestic appropriated programs. The budget must also adhere to the bipartisan principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or income inequality.
MomsRising supports tax improvements that help boost working families. This includes doubling the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for families with younger children, as well as, start refundability with the first dollar of earnings and improve the credit for low-wage families with children. Positive improvements should be made to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) which would make the credit refundable, increase the credit rate for low-income families and expand the sliding scale, increase the allowable expenses and index the expense limits and income levels for inflation to help make child care more affordable to more families. Additionally, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) should be expanded to low-income workers not raising children in the home. The CTC and EITC are two of the best tools our government has to help reduce poverty. Child care costs more than college tuition in most states leading to financial restraints among many families with small children. Improvements can and should be made to our tax system to assist those families most in need.
9. HEALTHY KIDS:
· Food and Physical Activity - One in five children in the United States is at risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease due to nutritional imbalances and lack of access to healthy foods and physical activity. Major system change is needed in the schools and communities to halt these unhealthy trends. Our priorities for 2017 are to 1) Ensure that all children enter kindergarten at a healthy weight, 2) Make a healthy school environment the norm and not the exception across the United States, 3) Make physical activity a part of the everyday experience for children and youth, 4) Make healthy foods and beverages the affordable, available, and desired choice in all neighborhoods and communities, and 5) Eliminate the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among 0-5 year olds. Toward these goals we must essentially address:
§ Junk Food Marketing to Children
§ Child Nutrition Reauthorization
§ School Foods
§ Sugary Drink Consumption
§ Access to Healthy Foods
§ Physical Activity
§ Safe and Accessible Drinking Water
§ Breastfeeding Protection and Promotion
· Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline - The ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ refers to the policies and practices that push our nation's schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education.” For a growing number of students, the path to incarceration includes: failing schools, zero tolerance school discipline policies, policing school hallways, disciplinary alternative schools, court involvement, and juvenile detention centers.
MomsRising calls on reform at every level to invest in and expand the use of social emotional learning, restorative justice, and trauma informed care in schools which includes non-punitive discipline models such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, truth and reconciliation committees, guidance counseling, mentoring, teacher training and support, and parental and community involvement initiatives, schools and school professionals are able to reduce conflict in schools, exclude use of police and police interventions and create positive and healthy school environments for the success of all students.
10. IMMIGRATION POLICY REFORM:
Reform Immigration Policy for Women, Children, and Families: A top priority is passage of immigration reform policies that protect the civil and human rights of immigrant women and children, keep families together, and empower aspiring Americans to fully participate in and contribute to our economy and society. Women and children now make up three-quarters of the immigrant population, yet current immigration policies disproportionately disadvantage women, and in the absence of sufficient legal channels for migration, more than 5 million women in the United States are undocumented and living on the margins of our society.
Approximately 60% of undocumented women are in the labor force, the majority working in professions where employment is informal and often unverifiable, such as domestic workers, while almost 30% of undocumented women are at home caring for their own children and families. Women are also disproportionately affected by significant backlogs in the family immigration system. Seventy percent of immigrant women currently attain legal status through a family-based visa—some waiting in line for decades to be reunited with their families.
In addition, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans cannot sponsor their partners or children for residency despite raising children and owning homes together. Furthermore, under our current immigration policies, more than 5 million children, the vast majority of whom are U.S. citizens, live in fear of being separated from a parent due to detention or deportation by immigration authorities. In fact, the U.S. government deported nearly 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children between 2012 and 2014 alone. Furthermore, unaccompanied immigrant children and other children apprehended internally, including the increasing number of child refugees fleeing extreme violence in Central America, are not afforded basic due process protections. Since 2014, thousands of vulnerable mothers and children from Central America have also been inhumanely jailed in family detention facilities.
The following are MomsRising legislative and administrative priorities for reforming our country’s immigration policies:
• Pass immigration reform legislation that establishes a roadmap to citizenship that recognizes the contributions of women’s work, ensuring that eligibility for citizenship is not linked to proof of work.
• Provide clear protections for children’s basic rights, safety and wellbeing, including government-funded legal counsel and child advocates for children in immigration proceedings.
• End the harmful practice of family detention, protect parental rights, ensure due process, and increase alternatives to detention.
• Advance policies and programs that keep families together, such as implementing administrative relief options to allow parents to live and work legally in the U.S., halting deportations of parents, and reforming the family-based immigration systems to address to the backlogs and reunite more families.
• Provide equal employment-based migration opportunities and workplace protections so that immigrant women may safely pursue economic opportunity.
• End programs that discourage reporting of crimes to law enforcement and advance protections for women fleeing state and interpersonal violence and victims of trafficking or exploitation.
11. FAIR SCHEDULING:
● Support the Schedules That Work Act: Congress should curb abusive scheduling practices and give working people the right to request schedule predictability and flexibility by passing the Schedules That Work Act.