Monday, May 24, 2010

9to5 Annual Leadership Conference a Success!

by Helen Bushnell, 9to5 member and activist

From April 24-27, I had the great opportunity to travel with the 9to5 Colorado Chapter to Washington, D.C. for the 9to5 Annual Leadership Conference and the Making it Work Conference, sponsored by the Family Values at Work Consortium and the National Partnership for Women and Families. The Making it Work Conference brought together activists from around the country, all working to pass workplace flexibility policies, like paid sick days, in their individual states and at the federal level.

All the events at both conferences were engaging, especially the small group activities at the 9to5 Annual Leadership Conference on Sunday. I met people from all over the country. Some of them are facing some of the same difficulties that I am. Avis Williams, a member from California, retired early a few years ago. Like me, she is now trying to get back into the US workforce after having been away from it for a while. Like me, she is not finding it easy.

Other people have different challenges. Christina DeHaro, a member from California, is a single mother who struggles with a climate that is hostile to children. She know helps single mothers speak to California’s legislators about the support that they and their children need.

Probably the most empowering part of the conference came at the end on Tuesday when all of Colorado’s members were filling the conference room in Senator Bennet’s office to talk with a staff member about work-family balance and passing legislation that helps working families. Through the Making It Work Conference, we were joined by other organizations from the Paid Sick Days Colorado Coalition. Both Bridget Kaminetsky, 9to5 staff member, and LaTerrell Bradford, 9to5 board member, talked about their personal experiences. They compared the benefits of having paid sick days with the fear that comes from being sick and not having them.

One of the participants at Monday’s Making It Work Conference mentioned that the biggest benefit to having paid sick days is not having to worry about losing her job.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country and hear their stories, and I look forward to continued work with the 9to5 Colorado Chapter to pass paid sick days for all workers!

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