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.