Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tahirah Foster Needs Paid Sick Days!

My name is Tahirah Foster. I live in Denver and I'm the mother of a precocious 4-year-old named Sa’mari, who lives with asthma.

I was forced to leave my dream job as a crew leader at a fast food restaurant because I had no access to paid sick days and my employer refused to allow me the time to be away from work when my daughter had an asthma episode.

The breaking point for me came the day when Sa’mari experienced a brutal asthmatic episode and the child care director called my job with a message that my daughter needed to be picked be right away. But the restaurant was particularly busy that day and the manager choose not to pass along the message until the end of my shift.

These days, I works as a part-time political canvasser, a job where I receive pro-rated paid sick days based on my hours, and it also offers me the opportunity to manage both my care-giving duties and my paid work duties.

I want to see my legislators pass Paid Sick Days in Colorado, so parents like me won't be punished for doing the right thing for our children.

Watch Tahirah talk about the importance of Paid Sick Days here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

9to5 Colorado Helps Defeat Dangerous Ballot Initiative in Denver!

We have all accidentally left the house without our wallet or purse. Fortunately, this fall, 9to5 Colorado worked to defeat Initiative 300, the Vehicle Impound Initiative.

This initiative would have unnecessarily impounded the cars of anyone caught driving without their drivers license and/or registration, even if they just left their wallet at home, and they would've had to pay upwards of $2700 to get their car back. This Initiative was dangerous and had huge consequences for everyone! No one should have to pay $2700 for a simple mistake like leaving their license at home.

9to5 made over 16,000 contacts with Denver voters this year, and nearly 80% of all voters we talked with committed to vote No on the initiative! On November 3rd, 2009, we saw a HUGE victory as Initiative 300 was defeated by Denver voters -- 70% to 30%! Because of the extensive field and media efforts by 9to5 and all the other organizations who worked to defeat 300, Denver residents understood the far-reaching consequences and voted to ensure that no one had to lose their car or pay $2700 for a simple mistake.

Courtney Coffman, one of 9to5's canvassers, talks about her experience working with 9to5 this year:
While working with 9to5 to defeat Initiative 300, I discovered that the experience of being a canvasser was completely unlike anything I had ever done. The sheer density of human interactions, both positive and negative, packed into such a limited period of time was both exhilarating and exhausting. I came to understand how invaluable civic engagement work truly is: the fact that, yes, I am coming to your home and your private life and asking for your time, but if you do give me your time, we can work together to defeat this dangerous initiative. Of course, not everyone was willing to talk with me. At times, feeling particularly defeated by an unwelcome reaction, the only thing that kept me going was the thought that that individual would be exponentially more disturbed if their car was unfairly impounded, than by me at their door. However,countless individuals recognized the very real and devastating consequences that the initiative would have on their lives if it were to pass, and thanked me for being there.

One common response from people at the door was: “I don’t have time to talk about this - I have kids to take care of.” While I understand that taking care of a family is time-consuming and the top priority, initiatives like I300 and others that threaten our families' rights and financial stability are one of the most compelling reasons to vote.

I know that all too often we have to fight for our rights, but we must stand up to those who seek to deny basic rights to Coloradans. I am proud to have been part of the fight to defeat Initiative 300 through 9to5 and to have protected the financial resources of Denver residents.

9to5 Colorado Receives 2009 NEWSED Civil Rights Award

The Colorado Chapter of 9to5, National Association of Working Women was honored November 11 when the 2009 NEWSED Civil Rights Awards were presented during a gala ceremony in the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

In its 18th year, the NEWSED Civil Rights Award recognized individuals and organizations for making a “significant difference through activism, sacrifice and dedication to an ever-changing Civil Rights movement.” The NEWSED Board of Directors and its Honorary Committee, along with Honorary Co-Chairs Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Mayor Wellington E. Webb, cited 9to5’s work in impacting the issues women face in the workplace, including pay inequity, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

“We were humbled to be among such a stellar group of award recipients,” said 9to5 Colorado Board Co-Chair LaTerrell Bradford. “And, we were humbled that our work in strengthening the ability of low-wage women to win economic justice was honored in this way. If anything, this encourages us to accelerate our fight to win rights, raises and respect for women in the workplace.”

The Civil Rights Award for 9to5 Colorado was presented by Nita Gonzales, Director of Escuela Tlatelolco in Denver, the daughter of the legendary Chicano leader Corky Gonzales. LaTerrell Bradford eloquently accepted the award on behalf of 9to5 Colorado. In her acceptance remarks, she cited 9to5 Colorado's work in leading the coalition that defeated Amendment 46, the anti-equal opportunity initiative, the first time that such an initiative had ever been defeated in any state. She talked about other important chapter victories in campaigns involving reproductive rights, the minimum wage, TANF and the chapter's work in advocating for the establishment of the Governor’s Pay Equity Commission.

9to5 Colorado joined a prestigious lineup of fellow Civil Rights Award recipients, including New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, community activist Margaret Atencio, performing artist Cleo Parker Robinson, the labor advocacy group Jobs with Justice, and Gete Mekonnen, co-founder of the Northeast Denver Housing Center, Inc.

Others attending the ceremony included Beth Wolter, Colorado Chapter Board Member; Lorena Garcia, Colorado Chapter Director; Linda Meric, National Director; U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Elbra Wedgeworth, former Denver City Councilperson and president of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Host Committee.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tell KCFR News that we need Paid Sick Days!

KCFR News wants to hear YOUR input about H1N1 flu and what you are doing to prepare. Go to the link provided to share your thoughts, and be sure to include that WE ALL NEED paid sick days in order to adequately prepare!

Only 57% of Coloradans have access to even one paid sick day and even less can take a paid sick day to care for a sick child or family member. Low-wage workers are the least likely to have access to paid sick days, meaning they are forced to make impossible choices between caring for their health or losing pay or possibly a job. In order to keep our community healthy, we must guarantee access to paid sick days for all Colorado workers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Paid Sick Days letter printed in Denver Post

Printed on Sept. 25th in the Denver Post in response to "1 in 6 uninsured in Colorado" (9/22)

We hear so much these days about the lack of health care and the need for health care reform. But it is heartbreaking to see how that plays out in communities right here in Colorado. All Americans need and deserve access to care.

We also need and deserve the time to care.

While one in six Coloradans lack health insurance, [one in two] Colorado workers lack a paid sick day to care for themselves or their children in times of illness. It’s heartbreaking to think of children who must stay at home alone or must go to school ill because there is no one able to care for them.

Just as we need health insurance, we also need guaranteed paid sick days for every Colorado worker so that, in these tough times, no one will have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and keeping a job.

Erin Bennett, Denver

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Story for Labor Day

Jennifer Brown - My Story

Up until February of 2009, I had never given unions or the Employee Free Choice Act much thought. Now, after a series of events that resulted in the loss of my job, I realize the importance of employees having the right to choose whether or not they want to join a union. I also realize now that there are still many rights to be won in the modern workplace.

My realization of the importance of allowing workers a choice began when the Chief Operating Officer of the company where I worked conducted a meeting about unions. He was generally negative but I just sat and listened. I didn't have a stake in the discussion one way or the other -- or so I thought.

Imagine how shocked I was to learn that some members of management considered my body language "pro-union" and warned that I'd better be on the right side. Later, working conditions deteriorated for me. After a series of negative reviews, write-ups and many tense work days, I quit rather than endure the stress.

I also took the time to learn more about the benefits of unions -- especially for women. Women who are members of unions earn more, have better health care, and generally have better working conditions than those who are not members of unions.

What happened with me? I was able to find another job. But perhaps if there had been a union in the other company, my story would have ended in a different way. I know this and I am telling every woman I know: EFCA puts the choice back into the hands of the workers.

That's why I will soon travel to Washington, D.C. to personally tell my elected officials my story and let them know that I support the Employee Free Choice Act.

-Jennifer Brown is a member of 9to5 Colorado

CLICK HERE to take action in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

9to5 Colorado is Hiring Canvassers!

9to5, National Association of Working Women
GOTV Canvasser Job Announcement
Based in Denver, Colorado

9to5, National Association of Working Women, a grassroots membership organization which works to strengthen women's ability to achieve economic justice, is hiring six canvassers for a non-partisan Get-Out-The-Vote Effort in the 2009 election cycle. Individuals with a commitment to social and economic justice, equal opportunity and women’s issues are encouraged to apply.

Job responsibilities:
Door knocking for shifts of three or more hours per day
Phone banking for shifts of three or more hours per day
Recording of data in both written and database format
Working with 9to5 organizers and other canvassers in preparing for canvasses and phone banks.

Enthusiastic about social justice

Excellent communication skills
Ability to work well with diverse groups of people

Experience in canvassing/phone banking on election or other issues
Competent in working with Microsoft Office
Available to work weekday evenings and weekends
Available for 18-20 hours per week.

This is a temporary 18-20 hour per week contract position that will begin August 24th and end November 6, 2009.

Compensation: $12.00/ hour
Please send your cover letter and resume to Erin Bennett at 9to5colorado@9to5.org. Applications will be accepted until all six positions are filled.

9to5 is an affirmative action organization. Women of color, lesbians, bisexuals and trans women, women with disabilities and older women are encouraged to apply.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interfaith Alliance of Colorado Public Forum in Lakewood

This summer, anti-immigrant extremists are gathering signatures to put mandatory vehicle impoundment initiatives on the ballots in Aurora, Denver, and Lakewood. These proposed ballot initiatives would require law enforcement officers to immediately impound the vehicles of individuals not carrying a driver’s license and fine each person $2,700 to retrieve their car.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
7:00pm - 8:30pm

Lakewood United Methodist Church
1390 Brentwood St., Lakewood, CO

Do you have $2,700 to pay if you accidentally forgot your license? Or do you have the time to sort out the situation if your car was wrongfully impounded? Would you lose your job if you couldn't get to work one day because your car was impounded? You should not have to wonder about the answers to these questions.

These initiatives are unnecessary, have harmful unintended consequences, and tie the hands of police officers. A police officer could be held up for hours waiting for a tow truck to impound a vehicle, when her time should be spent protecting the community from real harm.

9to5 Colorado and many other community groups are collaborating to defeat these harmful initiatives; 9to5 will specifically be focusing on Lakewood.

In order to help the community at-large better understand these ballot initiatives, The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado will host a public forum in Lakewood. Please join us to learn more about the initiatives and to hear about how to get involved.

For more information, or to get involved in the fight against this ballot initiative, contact Erin at 303-628-0925 orerin@9to5.org

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Watch Linda Meric on Channel 7 Denver!

Watch Linda discuss important changes in the state unemployment insurance laws:


Legal Momentum Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Ricci

Decision Will Undermine Critical Role of Nation's Civil Rights Laws in Achieving Equality in the Workplace

WASHINGTON, D.C. and NEW YORK (June 29, 2009) -- Legal Momentum, the nation's oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women's rights, is deeply concerned by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in Ricci v. DeStefano, a decision that will undermine the critical role of the country’s civil rights laws in the historic struggle of women and minorities to achieve equality in the workplace. The Court created a new, more stringent standard for employment discrimination claims in striking down the New Haven Fire Department’s attempt to ensure that its promotional exam did not discriminate against Black and Latino candidates. We believe that the standard articulated by the Court reflects a flawed interpretation of Title VII and is contrary to congressional intent.

Irasema Garza, President of Legal Momentum, stated: “Employment discrimination continues to be a major problem. To this day, women and minorities remain egregiously under-represented in many employment sectors. Astoundingly, the Court’s decision acknowledges this fact and yet requires employers to avoid policies and practices that would help to remedy this discrimination. This decision will make it far more difficult for women and minorities to get good jobs in fields that continue to exclude them, such as firefighting, and for employers to eliminate barriers that have proved discriminatory in their effect.”

Further, as a supporter of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, Legal Momentum strongly disagrees with those who might use the Court's decision to imply that Judge Sotomayor and her colleagues in the Second Circuit erred in their ruling below. The Second Circuit panel of which Judge Sotomayor was a part acted with appropriate restraint in applying the precedent as it existed at that time. The matter before the Supreme Court involved issues of first impression and the Second Circuit’s opinion was consistent with the views of four Justices on the Supreme Court as well as with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice.

Legal Momentum joined in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the Ricci case. The brief described how the disparate impact theory under Title VII has been instrumental in women’s entering “non-traditional” fields like firefighting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Make sure your voice is heard. Take the health care fairness survey today.

President Obama has made health care reform a priority for his first year in office. We must act now to make sure LGBT and HIV issues are included in the agenda for national health care reform!

Lambda Legal is conducting a national survey to document the unique health care experiences and needs of LGBT people and people living with HIV. 9to5 has joined as a campaign partner. Information from this survey will be used to educate politicians and other decision-makers about the specific problems health care reform must address.
We want this survey to reflect the needs of the entire LGBT and HIV communities. Please complete the survey today at www.lambdalegal.org/healthsurvey and spread the word to your friends and family.

9to5 on Fox News!

Check out 9to5 Organizing Director Cindia Cameron on Fox and Friends talking about the importance of paid parental leave!


Friday, June 12, 2009

9to5 Colorado Disappointed by Judge's Decision on Paid Sick Days

Last November, 70% of voters in Milwaukee voted "YES" to a binding referendum, which would guarantee paid sick days for every worker in the city. But today, Judge Thomas Cooper ruled that because of a single provision, the paid sick days ordinance cannot be implemented.

But Amy Stear, Wisconsin Director of 9to5, said the judge's ruling will not stop paid sick days from becoming the law of the land.

“While we are disappointed that Judge Cooper did not uphold the ordinance, we think higher courts will strike down the narrow grounds on which he based his ruling. We are deeply concerned about the 122,000 Milwaukeeans without paid sick days and their children. For them, justice delayed could have serious economic and health consequences. This delay is especially harmful given the current H1N1 pandemic, the potential that the flu will be even worse in the fall, and the continuing increase in instances of domestic violence.”

Stear pointed out that Judge Cooper agreed with almost all of the legal arguments made by the City and by attorneys for 9to5, which was granted intervenor status in the case. “Corporate lobbyists lost in the voting booth and tried to undermine democracy by blocking implementation of this ordinance,” she said. “Ultimately, they will not be able to stop the will of the people.”

What is the one provision Jude Cooper ruled unacceptable? He found that the ordinance exceeded the City’s police powers with regard to providing use of sick time for relocation and legal action for victims of domestic violence. What is most troubling about this decision is that he could have simply severed this one provision and upheld the ordinance without it. Though important, the ordinance stands on its own without that provision, and the will of the people would've been upheld.

Stear said 9to5 will appeal the decision. “We trust that the City will join us in the appeal, given that they have taken a strong position on the particular legal grounds Judge Cooper has ruled on here.”

The Paid Sick Days Ordinance in Milwaukee created a basic labor standard for workers and their families. Given these tough economic times, and the many public health challenges that face this nation, now is the time for paid sick days. We MUST fight to uphold the will of the people and do what is right for the citizens of Milwaukee, which, not coincidentally, has the highest number of documented cases of H1N1 swine flu in the country.

Click here to show your support for Milwaukee paid sick days by voting "NO" in the poll.

Governor Signs Unemployment Insurance Modernization

Opens Doors for $127.5 Million More in Federal Dollars

Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. signed into law bill SB 09-247, making modest changes in Colorado’s unemployment insurance law, and adopting new standards included in the Federal Stimulus Package that automatically qualify the state for more than $127.5 million in new federal incentive dollars. The new policy and the money are expected to bring much needed relief to the more than 2 million Coloradans currently unemployed.

“Especially in these challenging economic times, the unemployment safety net should be available to all Colorado workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” said Linda Meric, Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, and one of the leading advocates of the bill. “UI is an important foreclosure and bankruptcy avoidance tool, a tool to avoid pushing more Colorado families onto the welfare rolls, and an economic stimulus strategy to help families and our local economies as workers try to maintain some basic economic security while temporarily out of work. SB-247 will provide access to the unemploy-ment safety net for women and very low-wage workers who have previously been left out.

Dawn Duvall, a Colorado mother of two who has been out of work since she was laid off on December 5th noted, “This bill will provide much needed extensions of benefits for people like me who are desperately seeking work and are finding the process much harder than it has ever been before.”

The bill makes the following changes in current law:

  1. Allows for an Alternative Base Period (ABP) to assess eligibility for UI benefits.

Explanation: When workers lose jobs through no fault of their own and file unemploy-ment claims, all states use a base period, or “look-back” period, to determine eligibility and benefits. The ABP provides an option for some unemployed Coloradans, mostly very low-wage workers and recent entrants to the workforce, to shift the look back period to include more of their recent earnings when determining UI eligibility.

  1. Allows UI for spouses of transferred/relocated employees.

Explanation: Under current law, Colorado workers who quit a job to follow a spouse in the military who is relocated are already eligible for unemployment benefits. SB 09-247 expands this provision to include any worker whose spouse is transferred or finds employment in a location where commuting is unreasonable, as required by the Federal guidelines to draw down the stimulus money.

  1. Provides Additional UI Benefits for Workers in Retraining for Green Jobs, High Demand Occupations or More Stable Employment.

Explanation: SB 09-247 temporarily allows unemployed workers who are involved in approved training programs to receive an additional 50% of their regular weekly benefit amount for a period of up to 20 weeks.

SB 09-247 also includes language required to draw down federal funds to provide UI benefit extensions for unemployed Colorado workers who have exhausted their initial award of benefits and have still been unable to find work. These federal funds are in addition to the $127.5 million in stimulus money.

Learn about the new unemployment law that 9to5 Colorado helped pass! Learn how to advocate for yourself and others – how to file a successful unemployment claim, how to win an unemployment appeal.

Handling An Unemployment Insurance Case

Monday, June 29, 2009

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

At Mile High United Way

2505 18th Street, Denver

Free parking

For more information or to receive a registration form and agenda, please email Bridget@9to5.org.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trying Times Call for Healthy Families Act

Run Date: 06/08/09, Women's eNews
By Linda Meric

Three cities have paid sick leave laws and many states are moving in that direction. With millions of workers lacking paid sick leave or care-taking time, Linda Meric says federal lawmakers need to act now.

These are challenging times for America's families. One in 4 Americans, or about 23 percent of those surveyed in a recent Gallup Poll, report that they are "very worried" about keeping up with their monthly bills over the next six months. That's up from 19 percent a year ago and 15 percent in March 2007.

And while many of us are working harder than ever to keep pace under the current economic pressure, workplace duties are not the only duties we have.

Family responsibilities await us at home. That is why we must pass the Healthy Families Act, introduced in the 111th Congress on May 18 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, and Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, also a Democrat.

Workers still get sick. Children still get fevers and runny noses. Mom or Dad still needs to take them to the doctor or just stay by their bedside to nurse them back to health. No matter how dedicated workers are to hanging on to their jobs at all cost, the need to occasionally take time away from work never goes away--not even in a tough recession, not even when jobs are this hard to come by.

Unfortunately, nearly half of private sector workers in the United States don't have a single paid sick day to care for themselves. Additionally, nearly 100 million Americans get no paid time off to care for an ailing child or an aging parent.

Fewer "Wives" at Home
While this is an issue for all workers, the reality is that women, or "wives," have historically been tasked with the family care-giving responsibilities--and most families do not have a "wife" at home these days.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to a 2007 report by the Multi-State Working Families Consortium, "Valuing Families: It's About Time," less than 6 percent of all women in the U.S. were in the work force at the turn of the century. By 1950, that number had climbed to 24 percent; by 2000 to 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of single parents--mostly women--has also mushroomed and single mothers are working many more hours than they have in past years. Why? The Valuing Families report attributes this to pent-up demand among women for career opportunity and economic independence--and economic necessity. Simply put, over the last 35 years women's increased work and earnings has been the only avenue for many families to attain or maintain economic self-sufficiency.

Though the flood of women into the work force has been beneficial, it has raised an obvious question for families: how to provide all the care, support and supervision that children need without jeopardizing family economic self-sufficiency. For working women without paid sick days, occasionally staying home when a child is ill could mean the loss of a day's pay, or worse, the loss of a job.

It's a terrible choice that strikes fear in the hearts of all workers; a fear grounded in workplace reality.

Consequences of Time Off
In a 2006 survey, conducted by the Center on Work Life Law at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, 1 in 6 workers said they or a family member had been fired, suspended, punished or threatened by an employer for taking time off to care for themselves or a family member when ill.

This is all highly counterproductive.

Healthy workers are key to a healthy national economy.

Paid sick days reduce the business costs of turnover, absenteeism and lack of productivity when workers are sick on the job. In fact, if workers were provided just seven paid sick days annually, according to information released by the National Partnership for Women and Families in 2008, our national economy would enjoy an annual net savings of more than $8 billion.

Healthy workers also contribute to a healthy public. As public health experts and our own government have repeatedly warned as we contend with H1N1 swine flu, sick workers can protect public health by staying home. But they shouldn't have to pay the awful price of job loss and family financial instability to do so.

For all these reasons we need to pass the Healthy Families Act.

It would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to recover from their own illness, to care for a sick family member, or for diagnostic and preventative care. Equally important, it would allow workers time to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. Just as no worker should have to choose between pay and health, no worker should have to choose between pay and safety.

Need for Federal Policy
In the last three years, paid sick days legislation has passed in three cities: San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Milwaukee, where implementation is being held up by legal challenges.

This year, there are 15 active paid sick-days state campaigns. But what America needs most in these tough economic times is federal policy like the Healthy Families Act.

A broad coalition of women's, civil rights, health, children's, faith-based and labor organizations supports the act. It has more than 100 co-sponsors in the U.S. House, strong leadership from Ted Kennedy in the Senate and the steadfast support of the White House.

In accepting his party's nomination last August, President Obama said, "We measure the strength of our economy by whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job." Later he reiterated, "Now is the time to help families with paid sick days, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child or an ailing parent.

Congress must pass the Healthy Families Act. The President must sign it.

We must ensure that all families have the tools to be as healthy and as economically self-sufficient as possible as we move toward recovery in the days ahead.

Linda Meric, a nationally-known speaker on family-friendly workplace policy, is executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women. A diverse, grassroots, membership-based nonprofit that helps strengthen women's ability to win economic justice, 9to5 has staffed offices in Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Governor Bill Ritter Signs Bill Creating Poverty Reduction Task Force

On June 1, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law HB 09-1064, a bill that will create a legislative task force charged with coming up with a plan to reduce the number of Coloradans living in poverty by 50% by 2019.

The bill, “The Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force”, was sponsored by Fort Collins Representative John Kefalas and Denver Senator Paula Sandoval, and was supported by 9to5 National Association of Working Women and a number of other Colorado-based advocacy groups in the All Families Deserve a Chance (AFDC) coalition, a coalition working to improve policy affecting Colorado families living in poverty.

“It is time to stop pretending that poverty will resolve itself,” said Bridget Reavy, 9to5 Colorado Organizer.  “This bill will focus our state leaders on the problem and charges them to develop a strategic, integrated and comprehensive plan to both expand economic opportunity and drastically cut the number of Coloradans living in poverty.”

The legislative task force will be made up of five Senators and five Representatives. The members will focus on expanding the circle of economic opportunity. They will seek a holistic approach to reducing poverty, inspecting gaps in the safety net and analyzing issues such as food, housing, health care, jobs, utilities, child care, education, disabilities and domestic violence. None of these issues can be solved in isolation. The task force will seek collaborative solutions involving the private sector and all levels of government: local, county, state and federal.

“Poverty will only be reduced if we are strategic and think about poverty reduction in holistic ways that encompass food, housing, health, utilities, employment, child care, education, disabilities, and domestic violence,” said Patricia Ramirez, board member at 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

For more information, please contact the 9to5 Colorado office: 303-628-0925 or 9to5colorado@9to5.org

Governor Ritter Signs Parental Involvement Bill

Workers Get Job-Protected Leave to Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences

One June 2, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a bill (HB09-1057) that allows parents to take time off from their jobs in order attend parent/teacher conferences and other academic activities.

“We’ve known for years that parental involvement can make the difference between a student succeeding and a student failing. Now we’re actually doing something to help parents help students succeed,” said Lorena Garcia, Lead Organizer of 9to5 Colorado, the organization which led the charge on the bill.
The bill is modest in its scope. It allows employees of Colorado businesses to take up to 18 hours per academic year of leave to attend academic activities. It only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. The leave is limited to 6 hours per month and the employer may require that the leave be taken in increments of 3 hours or less. Parents are required to provide employers with at least one week’s notice of leave, except in an emergency. Employers may require written verification of the reason for the leave. Part-time employees accrue their leave at the percentage rate of full-time hours they work (For example, if an employee works 20 hours per week, s/he receives half of the leave time received by a full-time employee.)
“This is a reasonable measure that allows working parents limited time off from their jobs to make this critical contribution to their children’s education,” said Garcia. “Our economy depends on a well-educated workforce, but many students in Colorado have not had adequate access to their most important education resource – their parents. Now they will.”
Twelve other states (CA, GA, HI, IL, LA, MA, MN, NV, NC, RI, TX, VT)  and the District of Columbia have laws on their books providing for school-related leave for working parents.

Polling shows that 69% of Colorado adults support the idea of ensuring that all working parents have access to such leave.

For More information please contact the 9to5 Colorado office: 303-628-0925 or 9to5colorado@9to5.org

Friday, June 5, 2009

State Leaders Call on the Community to Learn from Recent Pandemic Threats

As the panic over H1N1 swine flu gives way to more reasoned precaution, Colorado has learned a very important lesson: We all have a shared responsibility for ensuring that our communities are healthy. And when our communities are threatened, we all need to step up and do what we can. 


As members of the Colorado Legislature, both past and present, we believe there is more we can do to protect our public health and protect our economy. We can send a message that the citizens, businesses and elected officials of the state of Colorado support paid sick days for every worker.


Here’s why …


In response to the risk of a pandemic flu outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a list of actions Americans should take to stay healthy. The CDC asked everyone who might be experiencing flu symptoms to stay home from work or school in order to limit contact with others and reduce the spread of contagions.


Likewise, President Barack Obama, in an appearance with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, discussed the unpredictability of the threatened pandemic, and made recommendations for how communities should respond: “We urge employers to allow infected employees to take as many sick days as necessary,” Obama said. “…we’ve also recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if children do have to stay home.”


We know that it’s not that simple. At least 43% of Colorado workers lack paid sick days, and nationally, 70 percent of workers are unable to stay home with a sick child. Without paid sick days, workers are forced to choose between going to work sick and losing much-needed income, or possibly their jobs. 


In service industries that employ low-wage workers, like restaurants, 86% of workers lack paid sick days. Not coincidentally, nearly half of all stomach-“flu” related viruses, such as the norovirus, are linked to ill food-service workers. In 2008, when a worker at a restaurant in Kent, Ohio had no choice but to go to work sick with the norovirus, more than 500 people became violently ill. It cost the Kent community between $130,000 and $305,000.


Clearly, working while sick contributes to the spread of diseases like H1N1 swine flu. And while that resonates with most of us, there is another factor which specifically concerns business owners: the economic cost of ill employees on the job. 

Studies have shown that when sick workers are on the job it costs our national economy $180 billion a year in profits and lost productivity. However, if workers were offered seven paid sick days a year, Colorado businesses would save $10.54 per worker per week. These savings would come from reduced turnover, lower productivity losses and a healthier workforce. Costs for wages, payroll taxes, and administrative expenses would be lower -- $7.52 per worker per week – which means Colorado businesses would save money by offering paid sick days.[1].


Paid sick days make good business sense, and we're not the only ones who think so. Kevin Westlye, Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, helped San Francisco restaurants when citizens voted to implement paid sick days in 2007. He noted that "sick leave is one issue where people just looked at adjusting their policies and moved on. It hasn't been a big issue."

We ask workers to take responsibility and stay home if they’re sick. We ask parents to keep their sick children home from school. But in order for this to be possible, we must also ask businesses to offer their workers paid sick days.

As current and retired elected officials in Colorado, we strongly urge all businesses to step up and take part in the shared responsibility of ensuring a healthy community, and a vibrant marketplace, by offering access to paid sick days for every worker in the state.



Morgan Carroll

Colorado State Senator, District 29



Betty Boyd

Colorado State Senator, District 21

President Pro Tempore, Colorado State Senate

Chair, Senate Health and Human Services Committee


Lois Tochtrop

Colorado State Senator, District 24

Assistant Majority Leader, Colorado State Senate

Vice-Chair, Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Evie Hudak

Colorado State Senator, District 19

Gwyn Green

Colorado State Representative, District 23


Daniel Kagan

Colorado State Representative, District 3


Anne McGihon

Former Colorado State Representative, District 3

Karen Middleton

Colorado State Representative, District 42

Cherylin Peniston 

Colorado State Representative, District 35

[1] Dr. Vicky Lovell, Valuing Good Health: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Healthy Families Act, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (2005)