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The State of the Union: I loved that the first words of President Obama’s State of the Union address last week were about “a teacher spending extra time with a student who needed it.” And how about his one-liner about coming out of the “Mad Men” era and finally fixing unequal pay and the lack of paid sick leave (I like “Mad Men” on TV, but not in the workplace!)?

The president’s message about opportunity and working together is just what our families, kids and young people need. “If we work together,” he said, “…the America we want is within our reach.” Then he followed up his speech the right way in real life—visiting a Costco store to highlight an employer who knows decent pay and benefits are good for business as well as working families.

But what do you think? Leave me a comment—I’d really like to hear.

(By the way, Family Values at Work is marking the anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA] with a blog carnival Wednesday. Check it out here.)

Behind the glitz and glamour: The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, the Directors Guild of America Awards, the Grammys, Academy Award nominations and the Super Bowl—it’s been a star-studded couple of weeks. It’s a good time to remember that actors, musicians, directors, stage hands and even football players are workers (in fact, union members), too. Yes, the dignity of work, no matter what field, really does connect us all.

No one tells that story better than Misty Upham, who earned Golden Globe and SAG nominations for her role as a domestic worker, Johnna, in the acclaimed film “August: Osage County.” Upham herself was scrubbing a floor as a house cleaner when she got the phone call inviting her to audition for the role. That work paid her rent and put gas in her car to get to her auditions.

In a moving column at The Daily Beast, Upham says: “Domestic workers today are changing their circumstances by organizing and mobilizing. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of workers are waging—and winning—campaigns to pass domestic worker bill of rights laws that restore basic labor protections to this vital workforce….We owe it to them to join their fight for basic labor rights.” I couldn’t agree more!

A real eye-opener—and not the good kind: We learned recently from Oxfam that the 85 richest people in the world own more wealth than half the entire global population. Unbelievable.

But here’s a way women earn more: What’s the “union difference” for women? Last year it came to $222 a week. That’s how much more the typical woman in a union job made compared with a woman in a nonunion job, according to new numbers from the Labor Department. It’s easy to see what happens when women have a voice on the job and can come together to bargain for better pay and working conditions. And as we marked the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter law, we learned that the wage gap between what union men and union women make is 9.4 cents on the dollar. Check that against the 18.7-cent gap among nonunion workers.

Truly, we are stronger together.

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