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 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

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

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

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)