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A Woman-Centered Economic Agenda: Expand and Protect Social Security and Medicare

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This post is the seventh in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.

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Women are more likely to rely on Social Security retirement and disability benefits because they have fewer alternative sources of income after retirement, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become disabled. Moreover, due to the recession, many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets, leaving them more economically vulnerable in retirement. Women also disproportionately benefit from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as they are often living alone and in poverty at older ages.

While some women have access to pensions or retirement accounts through their employers, Social Security is a crucial support for contract, gig, and temp workers. Protecting and expanding Social Security is vital for older women’s economic security.

There are a number of policies that would help protect women (and other financially vulnerable populations) including:

■ Add a caregiving credit to Social Security benefits to cover reduced time in the labor force due to caring for family;

■ Increase the special minimum benefit;

■ Increase benefits to ensure adequacy and improve cost of living adjustments;

■ Make sure asset limits and eligibility in Medicaid, SSI, and CHIP are not affected by Social Security benefit increases;

■ Ensure that the number of Social Security offices is not decreased. Rather, the number of offices should increase in rural areas and in areas where the Social Security offices are heavily used and have long waiting periods;

■ Control prescription drug prices in the Medicare Program as well as other regulated areas of health care;

■ Reduce Medicare Limitations so that seniors can receive needed health benefits.

A Woman-Centered Economic Agenda: Support Labor Unions

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This post is the eighth and last in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.

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Like other labor force development institutions, labor unions and professional associations are important institutions that undergird our economy, increase the quality of work rewards, and improve workplace productivity and efficiency. Labor unions deserve credit for many of the workplace policies that Americans now take for granted—a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, pay for overtime, and protections from health and safety hazards. The labor movement continues to champion local, state, and national policies such as equal pay, paid sick days, paid family leave, quality and affordable childcare, higher minimum wages, and improved health and retirement benefits.

 

Gender and racial bias is minimized in environments where hiring, pay, and promotion criteria are more transparent. Women, and especially women of color, who are either affiliated with a union or whose job is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, earn higher wages and are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and retirement benefits than women who are not in unions or covered by union contracts.

 

In order to support a women-centered economic agenda, voters, policymakers, and community leaders should:

 

■ Support policies that protect and strengthen collective bargaining and other basic worker protections.

■ Work with unions to help organize women and workers of color and encourage their development as leaders.

 

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With the increased importance of climate change and the disproportionate impact that natural disasters have on women and people of color, any economic agenda needs to include an understanding of climate change. Much like the Green New Deal, future economic agendas should work to ensure that climate issues are continually addressed through economic and social policy that improve equity along with protecting and restoring the environment.

 

This series was prepared by Elyse Shaw and Heidi Hartmann at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Financial Support was provided by the NoVo Foundation.

Immigrant raid resources

You have probably seen press accounts that the Trump Administration plans to carry out mass arrests to speed deportations of thousands of immigrants, likely starting this Sunday morning, July 14 and continuing during the week. These raids were expected to target 10 cities, but one of them, New Orleans, is reported to be off the list in deference to the storm conditions affecting the city. The other cities still targeted are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. There are also reports of ICE personnel arriving in Immokalee, Florida, with arrests of agricultural workers expected there. The Coalition on Human Needs strongly condemns these threatened raids. After shocking the conscience of the nation as we witnessed the grievous and continuing harm to children separated from their parents, the Trump Administration is apparently intent on recklessly tearing more parents from children.

We applaud the American Civil Liberties Union and organizations serving asylum-seekers who filed suit to stop the Trump Administration from its attempt to round up immigrants for immediate deportation without the due process of a court hearing. So much is at stake here: the very lives of people who would be returned to the violence from which they fled; the health of their children; the values of our nation; and the rule of law.

We pledge to continue to oppose the Administration’s reckless endangering of children, teenagers, and families. We know that members of the human needs community nationwide are stepping up to make sure that immigrants know their rights and have their support.

Below are some important resources that service providers and others in the human needs community can use to help their immigrant neighbors who are threatened:

There will also be a tweetstorm on Monday, July 15 sponsored by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and MomsRising:

A Woman-Centered Economic Agenda: Improve Access to Paid Leave, Paid Sick Days, Child Care

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This post is the fourth in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.

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A fair wage or salary, health care benefits, a safe work environment, and the ability to take time off work when needed without losing pay are essential elements of good-quality jobs. Affordable and quality child care is another essential support for working parents and access to child care increases women’s employment in the formal economy, the number of hours they work, and family income for two-parent households. By not recognizing the need for work-life balance, typical workforce, college, and job training practices not only fail to support workers and their families, but also are costly to taxpayers and employers. Many workers do not have basic work-family benefits that provide them with the flexibility needed to deal with illness and accidents, caregiving responsibilities, or to pursue education and training. The lack of paid sick daysfamily and medical leave, vacation and holidays, and fair scheduling reduces economic opportunities, diminishes the health and well-being of mothers and their families, and pushes some women and men caregivers out of the workforce altogether. This increases turnover for employers as well as reduces overall GDP by decreasing the amount of available members of the workforce.

 

Policymakers need to:

 

■ Support local and state paid family leave policies; especially those based on a social insurance model (like Social Security) which typically have premiums shared by employers and workers and provide earnings replacement to all eligible workers;

 

■ Support local and state paid sick and safe days policies, especially those that provide minimum paid days off that do not leave out small employers;

 

■ Support businesses that provide access to paid sick days and paid family leave;

 

■ Work for national paid leave policies, including both paid sick days and paid family care leave;

 

■ Expand access to and funding of subsidized child care for those who earn low incomes and support employers who fund or provide child care for their employees.

Funded by San Francisco's Sugary Drink Tax, Peace Parks Give Young People a Safe Place to Be Active and Have Fun

Voices for Healthy Kids sugary drinks

From Voices For Healthy Kids, a joint intiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working to make each day healthier for all children.

 

In 2014, 60 children playing at the Herz Clubhouse and Playground in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley witnessed a fatal shooting. Among them was the victim’s 10-year-old son.

Now, just five years later, dozens of teens flock to Herz three nights a week to participate in a range of activities that include basketball, drumming, swimming, dance, hair-braiding and cooking.

What’s behind this transformation? A new program called Peace Parks that creates safe opportunities for teens and young adults who live in neighborhoods affected by crime to go out and have fun at night.

“There are a ton of kids in this community,” says Robert Sotelo, who runs the Peace Parks program at Herz. “Having this spot open has created a new environment for them. It gets kids off the street and having a good time instead.”

San Francisco’s sugary drink tax funds most of the Peace Parks budget.

 

City Sugary Drink Tax Revenue Provides Bulk of Program’s Budget

Peace Parks, a collaboration between the San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Health and the Recreation and Parks Department, receives about $520,000 a year in funding generated by the city’s 1-cent-per-ounce sugary drink tax—about 68% of the program’s $760,000 annual operating budget.

Since 2016, when 62% of city voters approved the tax measure in a ballot initiative, millions of dollars in sugary drink tax revenue have funded programs that increase access to healthy foods, expand opportunities for physical activity, provide health and nutrition education, upgrade parks and other outdoor facilities and improve oral health for kids.  In 2018, the tax raised an estimated $16 million.

Peace Parks was an initiative of the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who died in December 2017, around the time the program launched. It is loosely modelled after a similar program in Los Angeles called Parks After Dark.

 

Strengthening Relationships Between Officers and Young People

The idea, according to Linda Barnard, recreation manager for Recreation and Parks Department’s Sports and Athletics Division, was to “break down stereotypes” between police officers and community members. In addition to providing security, officers interact with and get to know the young people who come to the Peace Parks by doing everything from playing basketball with them (the officers field their own league team) to teaching them how to play chess. Sometimes officers escort kids home after the evening’s programming is done, providing “safe passage.”

In addition to Herz, Peace Parks operate at the Joseph Lee Recreation Center in the Bayview district and at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center; local officials hope to launch an additional site in the future. The Recreation and Parks Department creates the programming and officers from SFPD participate onsite.

Peace Parks are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Normally there would be nothing open at those times,” says Sotelo, who not only manages activities at the Herz Peace Park, but also cooks hot healthy meals for the young people to enjoy.

 

Recovery After a Neighborhood Tragedy

The Herz playground is only a few blocks from the Sunnydale public housing complex, San Francisco’s largest housing project. After the 2014 shooting, the playground shut down until 2016, when Sotelo reopened it.  But it took him a year going door to door before families felt comfortable allowing their children to return to Herz.

Sotelo says the steady police presence at the Peace Park has been good for the neighborhood. “There ends up being a better feeling of communication and rapport,” he notes.

Sgt. Tracy McCray, who works in the Bayview, says that the Peace Parks program builds on how officers have interacted with neighborhood kids for generations. “I grew up in public housing and that’s kind of how it was when I was growing up,” she says. “I would go to my neighborhood gym and the officers were like our coaches.”

For the officers, taking part in the Peace Parks has helped strengthen existing relationships with community members. “It makes us more approachable,” McCray says. “The kids see us as just a regular Joe, whether we have the uniform on or not.”

 

Residents Feel Safer

Chiquita Woods, who lives at Sunnydale, says her 14-year-old daughter Leon’AY loves going to Peace Park with her friends.  Leon’AY was among the children who witnessed the shooting at Herz.

Woods says that when she and Leon’AY moved to Sunnydale in 2006, crime was rampant. Shootings were common; she recalls leaving home one morning with Leon’AY on her way to school, only to find a dead body by her car.

But things have improved, which Woods attributes in part to the increased police presence three nights a week at Peace Park. “There’s been less crime,” she says. “I feel safe now.”

Denise Armstrong, a longtime Sunnydale resident, has two grandsons who are Peace Park regulars. “For the teenage kids, the Peace Park really keeps them out of trouble,” she says. “They have a wonderful time, and they have police protection to make sure they’re safe.”

Peace Parks is just one example of the wide range of positive impacts that sugary drink taxes are having in San Francisco, throughout the Bay Area and other cities across the country—from reducing consumption of sugary drinks that contribute to diabetes and heart disease to promoting healthier neighborhoods where young people have safe places to socialize and be physically active.

Without the revenue from San Francisco’s sugary drink tax, Peace Parks would lose the bulk of its funding—and young people would lose their safe havens.

In neighborhoods like Sunnydale, Peace Parks is quickly making a big difference. “It’s a totally different feel here now,” Sotelo says.

 

Help Inspire Change in Your Community

To learn more about this issue and how you can help mobilize a similar campaign in your community, visit our Sugary Drink Toolkit. Within our toolkit, you will find helpful information to build out your own advocacy efforts aimed at developing policies that reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. 

15 Moms Who Are Putting Policies to Work for Families

Image of WA MomsForce Fellows Framed by Map of WA

To mother is to transform. Each and every day moms are shaping a more just future for us all through small and big acts alike -- whether it’s helping a tantruming toddler understand their feelings or advocating for their community with elected leaders, moms have superpowers that move us all forward.

Here in Washington State, we’ve made important progress advancing policies and programs that help build resilient children, families, and communities. But there’s a lot more work to do. 

That’s why MomsRising and MamásConPoder is launching the bilingual Washington MomsForce Fellowship. WA MomsForce Fellows will use their superpowers to put policies to work for working families. The 15 MomsForce Fellows for our inaugural cohort are:

  • Rosalba Bacilio of College Place
  • Cori Domschot of Olympia
  • Claudia Franson of Vancouver
  • Tienaya Godes of Spokane
  • Diana Gonzalez of Des Moines
  • Zandrea Harlin of Seattle
  • Yolanda Herrera of Centralia
  • Melody Ip of Renton
  • Tina Keys of Issaquah
  • Lupe Mendoza of Walla Walla
  • McKyndree Rogers of Spokane Valley
  • Darsheen Sargent of Seattle
  • Carolyn Solitaire of Tacoma
  • Clara Vasquez of Sunnyside
  • Heather Wallace of Spokane

Over the next year, these remarkable moms will build solidarity, power, and capacity in their local communities. They will capture the strength of their experiences as mothers to advocate for policies that meet the unique needs of their communities, and they will make sure that policies that have passed into law are delivering on their promises -- all with a focus on meeting the needs of families most directly impacted by racism, poverty, and other forms of oppression, first. 

Together, WA MomsForce Fellows will help families reap the benefits of Washington’s brand new Paid Family and Medical Leave program beginning in January 2020. They’ll also share their stories related to early learning and childcare; tax justice; workers’ rights; and other policies that, all together, form the essential building blocks for healthy and thriving children, families, and communities.

Nobody knows the needs of families quite like moms. And nobody can inspire change quite like them either. These 15 moms might not wear capes, but they’re certainly powerful and they’re ready to change our world! 

A Woman-Centered Economic Agenda: Ensure Equal Access to High-Quality Jobs

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This post is the third in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.

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Between December 2007 and June 2009, the U.S. economy experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the aftereffects were felt long after the official end of the Recession. In 2011, IWPR began publishing regular analyses of the trends in job gains and losses among women and men, noting that single mothers were almost twice as likely as married men to be unemployed. Job growth since the recession has been uneven with geographic areas and populations left behind.

 

Analysis of BLS data shows that employment and unemployment are not distributed equally either by gender or by race and certainly not by the combination of race and gender. Employment growth continues to lag for Black and Hispanic women and teenagers since the Great Recession and unemployment remains significantly higher for them than their White counterparts. The same can also be said for Black and Hispanic men compared to their White counterparts. Ensuring that all workers have access to full-time jobs (if desired) and tackling the issue of unemployment is a critical policy priority for voters and policymakers.

 

Women, especially women of color, make up a disproportionate share of workers earning low wages and often work in undervalued, female-dominated occupations, like home health aides or child care workers, or lower paid, middle-skilled occupations, such as first line supervisors or clerical workers. Ensuring access to high-quality jobs with fringe benefits can dramatically improve women’s lives and help put women and their families on the “wealth escalator,” securing important benefits that lead to long-term economic security.

 

Ensuring that women have access to high-quality jobs means women need better access to training for careers in growing, middle-skilled jobs (such as IT, advanced manufacturing, and transportation logistics). Earning a postsecondary degree is also a well-established pathway out of poverty: women with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, more than twice the amount that women with less than a high school diploma earn. Degrees are life-changing, especially for women raising children on their own (a disproportionate share of whom are women of color): for every dollar a single mother graduate spends on an associate degree, she and her family get back $16.45 in increased earnings.

 

Practical actions that policymakers can take to improve the quality of low-wage occupations include:

 

■ Support increasing the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped minimum wage;

■ Support fair scheduling practices and policies;

■ Push policies that invest in the caregiving infrastructure to improve worker’s pay, benefits, and career opportunities;

■ Provide access to affordable and quality child care, including for parents enrolled in a training program, college, or university;

■ Make obtaining a college education or attaining a postsecondary certificate more affordable and encourage scholars at all levels and job training program to work to attract non-traditional populations to their education and training tracks.

■ Work to ensure that STEM programs attract more women and people of color.