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Quick actions against Trump’s manufactured “emergency”

US Capitol Building

Ugh. President Trump has manufactured a crisis and is now moving forward with an undemocratic power grab because Congress and the American public refuse to indulge his tantrums.

To this we say: No way. And we need your help in 3 fast ways below to stop this (It’ll only take you a minute to make a big impact).

Why? We know we can do better, be better, protect our democracy, be greater than the fear Trump’s spreading, and not give in to Trump’s tantrums. In fact, we know from years of childrearing that failure to get your way is not a national emergency. In reality undermining Congress by manufacturing a crisis in order to build a wall the country neither wants nor needs is a gross violation of the President’s powers and a dangerous step towards authoritarianism.

**It is critically important for EVERYONE to speak out against this power grab by President Trump! We’re fired up and know you are, too. Here is how you can channel your energy into action over the next few days:

  1. Write a letter to the editor! Members of Congress are on recess right now and home in their districts. Use our simple (almost magical) tool to quickly and easily send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

  2. Attend a Rally or Town Hall near you! Join with others in your community who are fired up at events across the nation to speak out against President Trump’s fake national emergency.
    *Here’s a link where you can download and print a MomsRising sign to take with you.

  3. Call your U.S. Senators and tell them to support a joint resolution to end Trump's emergency status and stop his misuse of national emergency powers. (Our new tech tool makes calling quick and easy - we’ll walk you through every step and even dial for you!)

Trump manufactured a crisis at the border, but it has nothing to do with his unnecessary and destructive wall. The real crisis is that there are still children who have been separated from their families by the Trump administration. The laundry list of human rights abuses by the Trump administration continues to grow: The administration is still throwing asylum seekers in desolate “ice boxes;” regularly denying or short circuiting due-process; and turning away vulnerable children, women and men. The cruelty, civil rights, and coercion issues are far from solved. We need your help.

Our nation’s moms will not sit by as the President recklessly misuses emergency powers to waste our tax dollars and undermine our democracy. And we know we are greater than the fear that Donald Trump is spreading—so we’re speaking out and we hope you do too.

The SNAP Gap: why millions of Americans will face a food scarcity crisis this month and next

The Trump Shutdown is over, but some of its consequences are still playing out. Millions of SNAP recipients will face very real food shortages later this month and next — due to the shutdown itself as well as the underlying inadequacy of the SNAP program (more about this later).

First, some background is in order.

In a well-intentioned move, USDA moved aggressively to make sure February SNAP benefits were distributed despite the government shutdown. They did this by authorizing states (which administer SNAP) to distribute February SNAP benefits to the program’s approximately 39 million recipients on or before Jan. 20.

The next round of SNAP benefits will be distributed in March – when in March depends on the state, and, in some cases, the luck of the draw – some states distribute benefits on a rolling basis, depending on a family member’s Social Security number, case number, or where his or her last name falls in the alphabet.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that seven states, covering just 2 percent of SNAP beneficiaries, issue benefits on the first day of the month. That means the SNAP recipients in these states would face a 40-day gap between Jan. 20 and March 1. That 40-day figure is important; as CBPP notes, SNAP law requires that “no household experience an interval between issuances of more than 40 days.”

What of the other states? Some 21 states issue all, or almost all, of their SNAP benefits within the first ten days of the month. This would mean a gap of 40 to 49 days for those recipients. About half of all states have some households that will have 50 days or more before SNAP benefits are received, unless states change their distribution schedules. 14 percent of SNAP households will experience a gap of 51 to 55 days; 8 percent will see a gap of 55 to 60 days, and 3 percent will face a painful interval of 61 days or more.

Why is this a problem? There are a number of reasons – and they all add up to one sobering conclusion. Things are going to get bad in a hurry for millions of Americans facing food scarcity.

First, SNAP benefits are just too low. The average SNAP benefit is about $1.40 per person, per meal, or somewhere between $125 and $126 a month. Many SNAP recipients can’t make that stretch over a month – much less more than 40 days or longer.

Second, we know (and CBPP reminds us) that SNAP benefits are spent quickly because families’ total income is very low, and once they’ve paid for rent, heat, and other urgent needs, they are heavily reliant on SNAP. Says the CBPP: “It’s well documented that SNAP benefits normally run out for most households before the end of the month. Within a week of receiving SNAP, households redeem over half of their SNAP allotments. By the end of the second week, SNAP households have redeemed three-quarters of their benefits, and by the end of the third week, they have redeemed 90 percent.”

Third, there was a lack of information in many local communities about why February benefits were distributed on Jan. 20 – and the need for rationing them through the next month. USDA did not require states to send households notice of the change in timing. Instead, states tried to rely on a combination of social and traditional media and their partners’ networks to spread the word – with mixed results.

The Washington Post reported that in South Carolina, a rumor was spread that SNAP recipients were required to spend their Jan. 20 allocation by the end of January or lose their benefits entirely, a blatantly false rumor.

Sue Berkowitz, director of the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, said the intent may have been nefarious.

“I am afraid it was done by someone who was trying to mislead folk,” she told Voices for Human Needs. “We had a piece up on Facebook about the February benefit, and there were some really ugly comments, which we deleted.”

Nonetheless, Berkowitz said, “My bigger concern is how are people going to make their benefits last for five or six weeks when we know that at best they can last 2.5 (weeks).”

Fourth and finally: many SNAP recipients live on the edge, one crisis away from financial calamity that can cause a shift in resources. Day-to-day emergencies – a higher-than-expected heating bill, a car breakdown, a change in job status — can emerge that force families to use cash on other things when they had planned to use it to supplement inadequate SNAP benefits.

Front-line service providers are worried, to put it mildly.

Simone Gordon is a waitperson, a part-time student, and the mother of a boy with autism. She administers the Facebook group, Special Needs People of Color Single Moms Help Group. The volunteer group, which has grown to about 500 members, regularly helps raise funds for those in dire need – and takes on special projects around the holidays, for example, or if a family is suddenly the victim of a disaster, such as families displaced by the California wildfires.

“As a black organizer, I certainly am concerned that SNAP benefits will run out,” Gordon told Voices for Human Needs. “This has become a major concern in Maryland, D.C. and southern states as food pantries are running out of food. Fundraising efforts to send families food are exhausting and I am horrified of what is yet to come.”

Berkowitz, the SC Appleseed director, added that she is “very worried about the increase in hunger for those folk, it is horrible. I wish we could get our state to think about a way to supplement. I don’t think the food banks will be able to compensate for the gap. They have been capping the number of people they see in Columbia for a while.”

Noting the consequences of shutting down the government over the Administration’s insistence on border wall funding, Berkowitz concludes:

“This did not have to happen. And people understand that the current Administration caused a confrontation that had no relationship to what is really going on at the border, causing people to be harmed.”

Cross-posted from CHN's Voices for Human Needs.

#RisersRadio: The Power of YOU

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[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A person with shoulder length blond hair and a blue jacket sits before a House committee, providing witness testimony on the need for equal pay for equal work.]

We have a brand new radio show this week in which we cover how to help stop the fake national emergency; why (and how) we need to address the childcare and Pre-K crisis in our nation; how you can help one fair wage move forward so tipped workers aren’t stuck earning only $2.13 per hour; and we'll cover how  the Paycheck Fairness Act is finally moving forward!


*Special guests include:

  • Felicia Burnett, MomsRising, @MomsRising @FeliciaBurnettt 
  • Marquita Davis, Gates Foundation, @gatesfoundation
  • Saru Jayaraman, Restaurants Opportunities Centers United, @rocunited
  • Emily Martin, National Women's Law Center, @nwlc

Democrats' Progressive Agenda Must Include Addressing the Nation's Child Care Crisis

By Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA)

If there’s one thing that voters across the country have made very clear, it’s that they want big, bold solutions to the serious challenges facing them and their families. While the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations are cashing the checks from their latest Republican tax cut, middle class Americans and working families are sitting around their kitchen tables wondering when their government will start working for them. We hear their voices. Democrats are stepping up with answers and bold progressive proposals to increase wages and financial security for workers and the middle class, and we want to add another plank to our vision for a better, fairer economy with a proposal to guarantee universal access to high-quality, affordable child care for America’s working families.


The lack of affordable and high-quality child care isn’t just a children’s issue—it impacts many facets of our economy. Parents are struggling to make ends meet because they’re spending so much of what they make on care. Some parents have told us they’re not as productive at work because they’re worrying if their child is getting good, safe care. Child care workers, many of whom are low-income women of color, on average make $22,310 a year and often leave early childhood education for better paying jobs. This is an issue that will affect our economy for decades to come. Generations of children are losing out on critical years of early learning and development, and this lost opportunity will hinder their ability to contribute to our communities in the future. Businesses are losing out on talented workers, undermining local economies.


Two years ago, we decided to work together on a solution that would address all of these issues. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy to solve. But we started by listening to the stories of parents, families, and child care workers, and meeting with advocates for early childhood education, women and family issues, disability rights, labor unions, and others to figure out how we could be most impactful. What we came up with is the Child Care for Working Families Act. Here’s what it would do.


First, it ensures parents have quality, affordable care when they need it. Families living paycheck to paycheck and those working in the middle class won’t pay more than seven percent of their income on child care, and those who make less, pay less. In fact, many parents won’t pay anything at all. Importantly, our bill is a targeted investment in children and families who need it the most, and it doesn’t ask taxpayers to subsidize the children of bankers and CEOs who can pay their own way.


The Child Care for Working Families Act helps create and expand options for child care in the summer and during non-traditional hours, when quality care can be even harder to find. It also ensures that students, toddlers, and infants with disabilities, who struggle even more to find the high-quality care they need, are able to learn and play alongside their friends and neighbors.


Second, it ensures our youngest learners are prepared for kindergarten and beyond by expanding access to quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. This investment will pay for itself for generations to come; studies show that children who have high-quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to earn more later in life, and less likely to go to jail.


Finally, our bill invests in providing our child care workforce with the training and education they need to help our children learn and grown when their brains are in the most important stage of development, and be prepared for a successful life. It would also ensure that these tireless and hardworking teachers are paid at least a living wage so they can support themselves and their own families.


The Child Care for Working Families Act would jumpstart our economy. According to one study, this bill would create 770,000 jobs in child care—good-paying American jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. It would also allow an additional 1.6 million parents who were forced to stay home because of a lack of child care to return to work. And of course, it would create generations of young people who are able to reach their full potential.


Our bill is bold and progressive—but it’s also absolutely attainable. It has the support of 33 Senators and counting, over 140 members of the House, and more than 100 child, parent, and worker advocacy groups. There are few issues that unify Democrats, advocates, and families like this one – and that is one reason why every one of our colleagues currently running for president has joined our bill as cosponsors. We hope that support translates into a commitment to solve our country’s child care crisis now or in the first 100 days of the next Administration. 


We’re going to be working over the next two years to make sure this issue is high on the agenda, to push Republicans to work with us or explain why they won’t, and to stand with parents across the country who are demanding action. High-quality, affordable child care for every working family is an ambitious progressive vision—but if we keep making our voices heard, it will become a reality.

Top #5Actions of the Past Week: February 16, 2019

Greetings! It's been a really big week. Most urgently right now: we're pushing back against Trump's declaration of a national emergency, and need your help to call members of Congress (see below for more info).

This week also marked the first anniversary of the Parkland shooting, and we're urging legislators to finally pass universal background checks. Scroll down for more information on both, and for urgent actions on immigration and paid family leave, too.  

MomsRising staff and members have also been on Capitol Hill and on the ground across the country talking about equal pay, paid leave and immigration. Check out photos below. 

Thank you for all you do, and please scroll down for our top #5Actions of the past week. Be sure to share with family and friends too. Thank you! 

1. CALL CONGRESS NOW: There is no national emergency!!

BACKGROUND: Years of childrearing have taught us that failure to get your way is NOT a national emergency. Donald Trump’s temper tantrum undermines Congress by manufacturing an emergency in order to build a wall the country neither wants nor needs, and is a gross violation of the President’s powers and a dangerous step towards authoritarianism. We urgently need you to call your U.S. Senators and tell them to support a joint resolution to end Trump's emergency status and stop his misuse of national emergency powers. We make it super easy - just click here to get a sample script of exactly what to say, plus additional talking points you can use in your conversation if you want. Then your phone will ring and connect you to the office of your U.S. Senator. Read the script (or more), and you are done!

2. This Valentine’s Week Tell Wells & JPMorgan Chase: Break up with private prisons!

BACKGROUND: While professing a desire to respect human rights, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase continue to fund GEO Group and CoreCivic, the biggest operators of private prisons and immigrant detention centers. *Sign this petition to let Jamie Dimon (Chase) and Timothy Sloan (Wells Fargo) know that customers and potential customers are not afraid to align our money with our values. If Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase don’t take action, we will -- by pledging to, and/or encouraging others to, break up with Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase and switch to banks that actually respect our communities instead! #RealMoneyMoves. Sign on to urge the CEOs of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase to Break Up with Private Prisons, or We'll Break Up With our Banks! *BIG THANKS to everyone who helped deliver materials to local branches on Valentine's Day, too!

3. FAMILY Act Reintroduced! -> Now let's remind Congress that paid leave is our jam!

BACKGROUND: Like peanut butter and jelly, equal pay and paid leave aren’t fancy concepts, they’re not luxury items - they’re basics that stand alone, but are better together. That’s the message we’re taking to Congress in the next few weeks, and we need your help! Add your name to our letter urging every member of Congress to co-sponsor and support the FAMILY Act - the paid family and medical leave insurance act that will soon be reintroduced in Congress. The FAMILY Act is an insurance program that would provide workers — including those who are self-employed and/or work part-time — with much-needed income while they, or a family member, welcome the arrival of a new baby or deal with a serious health issue. This new, self-sustaining program would be funded through very small, shared costs to employees and employers. Let's make as much noise as possible - add your name now

4. One Year Since Parkland: Urge Congress to pass universal background checks! 

BACKGROUND: It's been one year since the Parkland school shooting that left 17 students and educators dead, and another 17 injured. And over these last 12 months, guns have continued to devastate families and communities across the country. Let's give a valentine to the Parkland families — and to all families who have lost loved ones to gun violence —by joining our voices in a powerful call for Congress to take action and pass universal background checks (H.B.8) now! Click here to call Congress - it's super easy! You will be taken to a page with a sample script of exactly what to say, plus additional gun safety facts you can use in your conversation if you want. Then your phone will ring and connect you to the office of your U.S. Representative. Read the script (or more), and you are done!

5. Reunite Every Child

BACKGROUND: In a shocking revelation, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that not only were “thousands” more migrant children separated by the Trump administration than previously known, but that they didn’t even know how many children were taken away from their families because of failures to track families as they were being separated! It is horrific that thousands of children were forcibly removed from their parents and unspeakable that the fate of these children is still unknown. To date, no one has been held accountable for this ethical and humanitarian disaster, instead President Trump continues to demand more funding for the very agencies that separated children as a condition for reopening the government. Sign on to tell Congress and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to immediately end these cruel policies and practices, and reunite every child.


This week our Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner testified before Congress about the importance of equal pay, MomsRising members across the country delivered messages urging Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase to stop funding private prison corporations, and MomsRising Senior Campaign Director Karen Showalter shared her story about needing paid family and medical leave alongside leaders of Congress as part of the reintroduction of the #FAMILY Act. #Inspired!      


Thank you for all you do! 

Testimony of MomsRising CEO/Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner on the Paycheck Fairness Act

Kristin's picture
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A person with shoulder length blond hair and a blue jacket sits before a House committee, providing witness testimony on the need for equal pay for equal work.]

This is the testimony of Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO/Executive Director and Co-Founder of MomsRising, given today before the U.S. House Committee on Education & Labor, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, for the Joint Subcommittee Hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7): Equal Pay for Equal Work.

Thank you, Chairs Suzanne Bonamici and Alma Adams, thank you also ranking Members James Comer and Bradley Byrne, as well as members of the Committee, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections for the opportunity to speak and to submit testimony on H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act.

I’m Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director/CEO of MomsRising, an organization with more than a million members, including members in every state in the nation, working to increase family economic security, decrease discrimination, and to build a nation where everyone can thrive.
At MomsRising we regularly hear from women experiencing unfair pay, who fear retaliation in their workplaces and therefore can’t speak up, and who need the protections the Paycheck Fairness Act would provide, including: freedom from retaliation; making it easier to come together to collectively challenge pay discrimination; an end to the use of prior salary histories to set current salaries; and the additional protections that would finally move us closer to pay parity.
Stories like this one from Laura:  Laura and her husband met at Columbia University and graduated with the same degree. They both got jobs at the same agency in the exact same position. However, they were dumbfounded by the difference in their salaries. She was paid $5,000 less than he was. When Laura asked the agency about the discrepancy, she was given the runaround. She was told to accept the pay or they would give the job to someone else.
Laura’s not alone.  Unfair pay and the fear of losing the wages you depend on in retaliation for speaking out is real and much too common. That’s why not only directly prohibiting retaliation but also advancing automatic inclusion in class action lawsuits is so important. To put it simply: There’s strength in numbers and many women can’t stand up and speak out if being the only one speaking out puts their own job at risk—but they can be part of a class action.  For lower-wage women workers, automatic inclusion in class action lawsuits also is vitally important.
Put yourself in Laura’s shoes: If your employer was paying you $5,000 less a year because you’re a woman, that’s a $50,000 loss over ten years. That’s not all: You also lose retirement income and risk being overlooked for promotions you deserve; and if you file an individual lawsuit, you risk being fired or facing other retaliation, not to mention the added time and expenses that come with any lawsuit.  So if the company is discriminating against many of its female employees, a class action becomes key to achieving fairness; and if companies are systemically paying women less, then there is a systemic problem, not an individual issue, that should be addressed as a class. That’s why the ability to join together with automatic opt-in to class action without fear of retaliation is so important.
Let me tell you, too, about Felicia. She experienced blatant wage discrimination while working at a technical support center for a large retail corporation. She was hired to work the exact same job as her brother-in-law, and after talking to him she discovered that she was being paid about $4 an hour less to do the exact same work. She went on to find out that all of the male employees, working the same job, with the same amount of experience, were making $4 an hour more than she was. And, as it turns out, all the women were making a lower wage. 
Felicia’s not alone either; and her experience demonstrates why preventing retaliation against employees who discuss wages with other employees is critical, as well as why prior earning history should never be used to set current earning rates. Using prior wage history compounds unfair pay over time, takes money out of women’s pockets and out of our economy, and increases poverty.  To see the impact of compounded unfair pay, flip the frame to review what having fair pay would do: If women received pay parity, it would cut poverty by more than half for women and families and add $512.6 billion to our national economy.

Having pay parity, studies also find, would also increase our gross domestic product by at least 3 percent.  Why? When women don’t have funds to spend in our consumer-fueled economy, businesses have fewer customers and there is lower economic activity across our nation. And the lower wages don’t just reduce economic activity now. Reduced wages also reduce retirement savings, leading to poverty in women’s sunset years.
But this isn’t just about Laura or Felicia. It’s about the women of America, our families, our economy, and our children’s future. Every single story gives a glimpse of a real-life experience with unfair pay, but the patterns in the overall numbers show how universal the unfair pay experience is for the women in our nation, and how critically important it is to our economy and communities for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act right now.
It’s time.  Our country has changed, but our public policies haven’t kept up.  Women and moms are in the labor force to stay. Our families need our wages to make ends meet and to survive economically.  In fact, women became half of the full-time labor force in our nation for the first time in the last decade, and three-quarters of moms are now in the labor force,  more than half of whom are the primary breadwinners for their families.  Yet women are experiencing unfair pay every day in our country, with moms and women of color experiencing the highest levels of wage and hiring discrimination. As this is happening, we can’t ignore that 81% of women become mothers, which means this double wage hit – and sometimes triple wage hit if you’re a mom of color -- is impacting the majority of women in our nation

Take Valerie, who discovered that the male co-worker who had been hired on the same day she was hired was being paid substantially more, even though they had the same job title and she had more duties and responsibilities.  Valerie went directly to the owner to request an increase to match her co-worker’s wage. She was told because her co-worker was married and male, he 'needed' a higher income than she did. Valerie pointed out that since he was married and his wife also worked outside the house, he actually had two incomes to cover his bills; while she was single and struggling to keep her head above water. Her boss was cordial but adamant that that was his policy, and she had no choice but to live with it.  

The sad truth is that right now, in the United States of America, dads get wage boosts and moms get pay cuts. Being a mom is now a greater predictor of wage and hiring discrimination than being a woman.  Our country, which claims to love, adore, and respect motherhood, pays women with children just 71 cents to every dollar it pays to dads

To get a real picture of what’s going on with moms in our nation, here are the specific numbers: Latina mothers are paid just 46 cents; Native mothers are paid 49 cents; Black mothers are paid 54 cents; white, non-Hispanic mothers are paid 69 cents; and Asian/Pacific Islander mothers are paid just 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers. 

(Overall, the U.S. Census reported in 2017 that women, on average, earned just 80 cents to a man’s dollar for all year-round full-time workers. That being said, women of color, on average, experience significant increased wage hits: Latina women earn only 53 cents; Native American women only 58 cents; Black women only 61 cents; and Asian women earn only 85 cents on average for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.   And it should be noted that the broad data category of Asian women doesn’t give the whole picture: A closer look at the numbers inside that number, for instance, reveals that Burmese women are earning only 44 cents to a white man’s dollar, Fijian women are earning 45 cents, and Nepalese women are earning earn 51 cents.)
What’s happening with moms?  One series of studies painted a stark picture of hiring, workplace, and wage discrimination: Moms were hired 80 percent less often than women with equal resumes who didn’t have children; and when moms were hired, they were offered salaries $11,000 lower on average than those offered to non-moms. On the other hand, dads with equal résumés were offered $6,000 more than non-dads, proving that the antiquated and false idea that only men need paychecks large enough to support their families persists, causing intense damage, and keeping many families poor and hungry. Studies have also shown that mothers are judged more harshly in the labor force, even when they have the same credentials as non-mothers

Discrimination is at work when it comes to the motherhood pay penalty.  Michelle J. Budig, writing in Third Way, reports that the motherhood penalty, “Cannot be explained by human capital, family structure, family-friendly job characteristics, or differences among women that are stable over time…This motherhood penalty is larger among low-wage workers while the top 10% of female workers incur no motherhood wage penalty.”

Further, while moms overall are paid just 71 cents to every dollar that dads are paid, the discrimination in pay compounds for single moms and their children. Paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to all fathers, single mothers are among those who face the worst wage discrimination in our nation. This impacts a tremendous and growing number of women and children. A study from Johns Hopkins University found that 57 percent of babies born to millennials were not born within a marriage. Technically these are “single mothers” by many people’s definition, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a partner present. These and other numbers demonstrate the extensive nature of deeply unfair pay gaps that women and moms are facing in our nation.  

Unfair pay causes grave and lasting harm to those who are in low-income jobs in particular: Mothers in low-wage jobs are paid just 66 cents for every dollar paid to fathers in low-wage jobs; and we can’t forget that 90 percent of women earn less than $75,000 a year, and more than half of them earn less than $30,000 a year. Too many women and moms are working hard, being paid unfairly, surviving paycheck to paycheck, and falling into poverty as they struggle to raise families and open doors for their children to thrive.   

To be clear: It is essential that we reach pay parity. As we reach toward this goal we must keep in mind that the wage gap is not the “fault” of women: Women are actually graduating from college in higher numbers than men. But after only one year in the workforce, young women are already being paid less than equally qualified young men in many occupations. This can’t be explained away by women’s job choices.  Claudia Goldin, a labor economist at Harvard University, has found in studying age, race, work hours, and education that people working in the exact same sectors experience wage gaps. For instance, women doctors and surgeons earn 71 percent of men’s wages. Women financial specialists earn 66 percent of men’s wages.

Unfair pay results largely from subconscious negative assumptions about women and work which add up to a massive amount of money lost for women and our economy over time. It also stems from the fact that our nation lags behind other industrialized nations when it comes to access to paid family and medical leave for people of all genders, access to affordable childcare and sick days, a living minimum wage that also covers tipped workers, and other economic security measures. Ultimately, one thing is clear: When this many women are facing the same barriers at the same time, we don’t have an epidemic of personal failures, we have structural issues that we can and must solve together.  One such solution is for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as soon as possible.

Without this Act, too many women are struggling: Julia’s employer used her salary history as an excuse to reduce her pay. Julie was offered a job at $65,000 per year but when her offer letter arrived, she was offered just $55,000. It was for the same job, but not at the same salary. Julia was told the reason was her salary history.  She decided to take the job anyway. In time, she asked a male colleague about his salary and learned he was being paid $62,000 for the same job. When Julia asked about the disparity, she was told her male colleague was fresh out of college and that’s what they decided to start him at. So he benefited from having no experience and no salary history, while her seven years of relevant experience was used against her. Salaries at her next two jobs were premised on her salary there, so the harm compounded over time. She’s lost tens of thousands of dollars to this discrimination, as have millions of other women in similar situations. 
This is an urgent matter. Study after study has shown that wage, hiring, and advancement discrimination is happening against women like Laura, Felicia, Valerie, and Julia in real time right now,  even though studies also show the work contributions of women and moms aren’t any less valuable than contributions from men and dads. Not even a little bit.  In fact businesses tend to make higher profits with women in leadership and better decisions are made when there are diverse decision-makers. For instance, a 19-year study of all Fortune 500 companies by Pepperdine University found a direct correlation between high levels of women in leadership and higher profits—and that promoting women meant outperforming the competition. But despite those facts, women are still treated unfairly: Women – particularly women of color and moms -- are judged more harshly, paid unequally, and discriminated against in the labor force.  

It’s time to stop treating women unfairly. It’s time for women to be able to join together, to be able to share information, and to demand that current pay not be set by past pay, without fear of retaliation.  It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

Paid Leave for Love and Family

In 2012, I helped organized the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community to build support for our LGBT members and marriage equality in Washington State. The messaging for that campaign was tailored for the (API) community, where love for family was emphasized over individual romantic love. This is because in many of our cultures, our identities are rooted in our membership to our communities and in our families--sometimes more than as individuals.

Recently, I was particularly moved when Sandra Oh brought her parents to the Emmys. As she stood on the stage to receive her Emmy as the first Asian American Actress in a lead role, she told them she loved them on stage in Korean. I believe it was her way of saying, “We did it, together. And thank you.” Our triumphs as well as our sorrows are shared by our families and community. However, American culture too often stresses the bootstraps mentality that glorifies individual achievement--without the contextual analysis of history, race, class, or gender privilege. We need to foster more narratives that highlight interdependence within our society. And for all our communities, it is crucial to have a broad definition of family so we can be there for all our loved ones when it matters most.  

And that is why I am so excited for Washington State’s new Paid Family and Medical program that put forward a historically inclusive definition of family. Whether it’s to care for a newborn you swear already smiles, a mom who is critically ill, or a partner battling cancer, being there for family is what matters most. Beginning in 2020, Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program will provide families with the financial stability to do just that.

And what’s more, family leave has an inclusive definition so workers can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a domestic partner, spouse, child (including adult children and non-biological children who are in your care), sibling, parent, grandchild, or grandparent and or new child through birth, adoption or foster placement. Workers will also be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave, or 16 weeks of combined paid family and medical leave.

We have all heard “love is love,” but we must make sure our laws and programs are actually inclusive of all forms of love--queer and straight, romantic and familial. Interdependence and caring for each other is what makes our communities whole. This a value reflected in paid family and medical leave for all.

Visit to learn more about WA’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program and to take action so all families benefit.


Remember Parkland - tell Congress to pass universal background checks

Gloria Pan's picture

Today is Valentine's Day. We're holding our loved ones close and remembering the Parkland families.

One year ago today, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and shot to death 17 of their students and educators, injuring 17 more. And over these last 12 months, guns have continued to devastate families and communities across the country. 

Today, as we give valentines to our loved ones, let's also give a valentine to the Parkland families — and to all families who have lost loved ones to gun violence — by joining our voices in a powerful call for action.

Call Congress and demand universal background checks now. We just launched some cool new tech that makes calling quick and easy - you don't even have to dial. Check it out!

This Valentine's Day, we demand #LoveNotBullets.

We're celebrating love, which sustains us, uplifts us, and gives our lives meaning.

Guns are designed to do exactly the opposite. They exist to maim and kill, bringing loss, suffering, and despair. Yet, our elected leaders have sat back and allowed American gun violence rates to keep climbing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that guns kill close to 40,000 people every year, a record high. 

Express love this Valentine's Day by calling your elected leaders in Congress and telling them that you want universal background checks NOW to keep your loved ones safe.

Right now, we have an opportunity to begin reversing the rising trend of gun violence by, at minimum, denying access to firearms to people with histories of violence.

The bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Background Check Expansion Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 97% of those polled support requiring background checks for all gun buyers. And in states that passed comprehensive background check legislation and reporting systems experienced lower rates of gun-related violent crime and suicide. [6] It’s no longer a question of “will this work?” We know it will, and Congress needs to step up to make it the law of the land now.

Call Congress now.

For Valentine's day, help us build our voice of love calling for safety for our families and communities by forwarding this email to your friends and family and inviting them to join us.

We demand #LoveNotBullets this Valentine's Day and every day.

Together, we will never stop fighting for the safety of our families and loved ones.