Thursday, December 30, 2010

Voices: Connie's Story

In addition to advocating for women's rights, 9to5 collects stories about women's experiences in the workplace-- the good, the bad, and the downright unbelievable-- for our Voices feature.

If you have a story from your workplace that you'd like to share, please tell us your story on our Voices page.

This Voices story comes from Connie, a mother in the southeastern US.

"The company that I worked for during 2006-2008 did not have paid sick leave, and only gave employees five vacation days, three of which were required to be saved for the week of Christmas shut down. Therefore, employees only had two vacation days during the year.

"My first boss allowed me to make up any time I needed off by working through lunch or late each day till I made up my time out sick. After I transferred to the Accounting Department, my new manager agreed to continue allowing me to make up any time off.

"Every time I was out I worked to make up that time. I worked late up to an hour each day and worked through lunch. I recorded my hours each day so that I would know how many hours I needed to make up and how many hours I had already made up. I was never paid overtime for any of the hours that I worked over forty hours a week. All of that time went to make up my time out.

After a few months of working in the Accounting Department, the manager called me into his office one day after I have been out, told me that I had missed too many days, and if I missed one more day of work he would fire me.

"My manager’s wife worked in the Human Resources department, so I was afraid going to HR would only make things worse. After being threatened I was shocked and scared. I have three school-age children. Everyday from then on I worried that the school or day care would call and tell me one of my daughters was sick and needed to be picked up. After my manager threatened me I was not able to give 100% at work because I was always afraid that I would get fired if one of my daughters were sick.

"During this time my husband was the only one in his department who worked first shift and he could not take time off, so when the girls were sick I had to take them to the doctor or stay home with them. My father and my mother-in-law both live nearby: however, my dad can not be around the children when they are sick due to his health issues; and my mother-in-law would not cancel plans to watch the girls or take them to the doctor for me. So it often fell to me, their mother, to take care of them. It was extremely stressful needing to be at two places at the same time and worrying, "will I get fired if I stay home with a sick child today?"

"I went to work sick-- I never stayed home sick myself. Two years ago, I was laid off by that company, but I have not let go of the feeling of helplessness I had when I could be fired for something that was out of my control."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Economic Recovery Forum Tour

As the end of the year winds down, so does 9to5 Colorado’s Economic Recovery Forum Tour. 9to5 Colorado and community partners, such as Colorado Progressive Coalition (CPC), FRESC and Colorado Springs Branch NAACP, have taken the Economic Recovery Forums to cities across the state to showcase the positive impacts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on a local level. These forums brought together just a small fraction of the thousands of people, small businesses, and local government who have benefited from the over $7 million in Recovery Act funds in many different ways.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was one of the first pieces of major legislation that was signed in action by President Obama within his first 30 days in office right here in Denver, Colorado in 2009. This landmark policy brought $800 billion to the states to help protect our most vulnerable communities and help pave the road to recovery for millions of families hit the hardest by the worst economic recession in the U.S. since the Great Depression. ARRA helped stimulate the economy, helped save and create jobs, prevented more devastating state budget cuts, and protected important safety net programs that are helping families stay afloat. In Colorado alone, stimulus money put more than 46,000 Coloradans to work over the last year.

“We have been so excited about having the pleasure of highlighting some of the most constructive investments from the Recovery Act in our own Colorado communities. We are bringing to the table people who can attest to the positive impacts of the Recovery Act, such as local workforce development centers, the Governor’s Energy Office, and the Small Business Administration and providing information on how to access these resources and programs, in addition to sharing how 9to5 Colorado specifically was able to help draw down more Recovery Act dollars to Colorado by modernizing the state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits system” explains Maggie Gomez, 9to5 Colorado ARRA organizer. Last year, 9to5 Colorado was able to bring nearly $130 million in federal Recovery Act funds to Colorado by expanding the state UI programs to increase eligibility to more women and very low wage workers, extend benefits for unemployed people in certified training programs, and extend benefits for the long tern unemployed. This is utterly critical to our Colorado economy when, according to Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s, every $1.00 of unemployment insurance generates $1.64 in local benefit, and we are currently experiencing a state unemployment rate hovering near 8.5 percent.

The Economic Recover Forum Tour, coordinated by Maggie Gomez, took place in Denver, Aurora, Greeley, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. Nearly 200 people attended these forums.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Much Do You Really Know About Poverty?

I just took this quick quiz testing my knowledge about how much do I really know about poverty and what is just stereotypes and misconceptions that have been put in my head. I was surprised at my result, I got 10 right and 5 wrong. But learned a lot. This is a great, quick quiz to take and it really puts things into perspective, like how much government assistance really does help family and children have a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs, but also how there is still so much to do. I encourage you to take this quick quiz and post on the comments how many did you get right and wrong. And more importantly what your reaction was to how much of what you know is true facts and how much of it is stereotypes that have been drilled on us so we can start having a conversation about how we can stop these misconceptions and start having a real conversation about poverty in the United States and how can we cut it in half in 10 years.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Job Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Workshops

When: Every second Tuesday from 6-8pm


Denver Office, 655 Broadway, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80203

Attend these free and confidential workshops to learn what you can do at work and through the legal system if you have experienced sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination in the workplace. Each will be facilitated by a 9to5 organizer and an employment lawyer.

*A five person minimum will be required to hold these meetings.

Parking is available at the building.

Childcare and translation provided upon advance request.

RSVP REQUIRED: Bridget Kaminetsky at 303-628-0925 or

Monday, December 6, 2010

Linda Meric...Memo to Congress: Extend Programs that Help Us

Dear Member of Congress: You’ve got a lot to consider in this month. You’re scheduled to debate international treaties and Internet censorship. There’s talk of military affairs and revamping federal agencies. But this should be at the top of your agenda: extending benefits for unemployed workers and making sure struggling parents can continue to make ends meet.

You must renew unemployment insurance benefits now for the millions of long-term jobless workers in America. And you must allow jobs to continue to be created through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund.

Think like a struggling family and your decision won’t be so hard.

Consider Cynthia, a mother of three. She has been unemployed since August 2009. Online and in-person, she’s applied for more than 100 positions; inquired about scores and scores more. She’s gotten a few interviews. As of yet, however, not one of them has turned into a job offer. She makes $296 dollars a week in unemployment compensation. Imagine supporting an entire family on a few hundred dollars a week. Everything is a struggle. It’s a struggle to pay the rent, it’s a struggle to keep food on the table, and it’s a struggle to keep shoes on the kids’ feet. It’s a struggle to have to struggle so.

Put yourself in her place. Think about her children. Can you imagine the panic you would feel if you knew your only source of income was about to be cut off? Can you imagine the insecurity you would feel if you knew that soon Mommy would have no money at all?

It’s not even only about struggling families – it’s about the economy too.

Studies, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor, show the unemployment insurance program had an even more positive impact on the economy this time around than in previous recessions. Every dollar spent on jobless benefits generated $2 in economic activity, and during each quarter of the recent recession, the economic stimulus provided by those benefits kept an average of 1.6 million Americans on the job.

Americans need jobs. A job with a living wage is at the top of lots of wish lists this season. And while we’re talking about jobs, let’s talk about the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund. The TANF program itself is the nation’s basic welfare program, and before departing for the Thanksgiving holiday, you reauthorized TANF while leaving the Emergency Contingency Fund on the sidelines.

One of the best-kept secrets of last year’s recovery act was this job creation program that helped the economy while it also helped low-income parents and unemployed youth. Through this effort, 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, partnered with the private sector to create more than 240,000 new jobs through flexible block grants. The TANF-ECF also provided short-term assistance to some of the neediest families. It’s been called a success story by governors and state legislators from both parties. It makes sense that we would continue it, build on it.

The September deadline passed and TANF-ECF wasn’t extended. That’s water under the bridge. But now you have another chance: Put yourself in the place of a homeless family, a long-term unemployed worker and the decision will be clear.

This year, Congress earned base salaries beyond the wildest dreams of most people. You got retirement plans, health benefits, foreign travel stipends. Americans might not begrudge it so much if Congress didn’t seem so tight-fisted with the allocations when it comes to middle class families and those who are struggling with economic insecurity. But you can fix that perception.

The lame duck session will end soon.

It’s not too late for Congress to think like the rest of us; extend unemployment insurance benefits, restore the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund – give working Americans a little hope for the holidays.

Meric is executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

from the Baltimore AFRO

Small Biz Owner Focus Group This Wednesday

9to5 National Association of Working Women-Colorado is holding a focus group with small business owners in the Denver metro area.

This focus group will be held Wednesday, December 8, 2010 from 6:00-8:00pm at 655 Broadway Denver, CO 80203 on the lower CR Level. Free parking is available in the parking lot.

The topics will cover health care reform in the workplace and will concentrate on hearing the voices and opinions of small business owners. The conversation will include implementation of health care reform in the workplace, tax credits available to small business owners, and paid sick days.
Free food and compensation for your valuable time will be provided for all who attend.

For more information or to RSVP, please email or call 303-628-0925.

Please pass this on to any small business owners who might be interested.

Join us Tuesday at the Pueblo Convention Center and learn how YOU can benefit from the Economic Stimulus!

When: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm MST

Pueblo Convention Center
320 Central Main St.
Pueblo, Colorado 81003

Are you unemployed or experiencing tough times?

Last year, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to fund the nation's economic recovery and help those communities most in need.

Come learn:

  • How to INCREASE your Unemployment Insurance check by continuing your education and getting new job skills.
  • Where Green Jobs are being created and how to get them.
  • Tax breaks due to ARRA

Dinner and child care provided!

FREE community forum, all are welcome!

To RSVP or request more information: Please contact Maggie Gomez, ARRA Organizer, at 303-628-0925

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nominate an Outstanding Colorado Change-Maker Today!

Since 1996, 9to5 members have worked to improve rights on the job and win family-friendly policies. This year we would like to honor exemplary leaders who have been strong voices for their communities by taking a stand; speaking out when others cower; helping to inform and educate; and generating thought-provoking conversations around strengthening the ability of low-wage women and their families to build economic justice.


Help us celebrate these members by nominating someone who has inspired or motivated you, or someone else or has made a real impact on workplace policies. Please submit your nomination by the close of business day on Friday, December 3, 2010.

Click here to get the nomination form, then fill it out, and submit it back to us.


Nominees must be 9to5 Colorado members doing paid or volunteer work to build economic justice in one of the 5 award categories:

  • Top Recruiter Award
  • Speaking Out Award
  • Colorado Activist
  • Social Justice Award
  • Youth Advocate


NOMINATION DEADLINE: Friday, December 3, 2010

Honorees will be recognized at 9to5 Colorado’s First Annual Winter Social on December 8, 2011.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Petition: Help Stop Wage Theft

(By Interfaith Worker Justice at

Each year billions of dollars are stolen from millions of American workers as a result of wage theft.

Wage theft takes many forms: Non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job, forcing workers to work off the clock, not paying minimum wage, and even not paying a worker at all. Workers’ wages are also stolen when they are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors and lose protections that workers have.

Workers who have had their legal wages stolen by employers often are forced to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table. Wage theft robs the government of needed tax income, which can lead to cutbacks in vital services.

Wage theft puts ethical employers at a competitive disadvantage and can destroy community businesses, since working families cannot spend wages they earned but never received.

Wage theft occurs in every income-tax bracket, in every industry, and in every state, but there is a solution – and you can help.

National legislation to prevent wage theft and worker misclassification must be passed. Members of congress need to hear from you now!

Stand with workers and help make sure workers are paid what they’ve earned by supporting national legislation to prevent wage theft.

Sign the petition supporting national legislation to prevent wage theft.