Thursday, January 27, 2011

Secure Our Jobs, Protect Colorado Workers!

Civil rights protection is more than the morally right thing to do: it's the right thing for our economy, and practical in every workplace.

It's already against the law for employers to discriminate against employees based on race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, or domestic violence. However, holes in the existing Colorado law prevent justice for employees when their rights are violated. This results in situations where discrimination exists, but the law is unenforceable.

Legislation has been introduced to update our law as 41 other states have done, and fill the holes in workplace discrimination law to protect workers in all businesses. Senate Bill 72, sponsored by Senator Morgan Carroll and Rep. Claire Levy, will ensure that more employees in Colorado are protected by the same standards that federal law already guarantees for most employees. It would also help ensure that all of Colorado's existing discrimination protections are enforceable.

Corporate lobbyists are sabotaging attempts to make these sensible changes that have already been adopted in most of the rest of the nation. They want to keep the status quo, and create barriers to accountability for civil rights in the workplace. We need you to speak out right now, and tell legislators that we can't afford to lose jobs to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Give employees the opportunity to seek justice.

Click here to sign the petition: urge your state representative and senator to support the The Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2011.

Click here to send an email to your State Senator - asking for their support.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

9to5 Welcomes New Intern, Josh Murphy

Josh Murphy is a Colorado native in his junior year at the University of Colorado Denver, where he is studying English literature and social justice. As an intern at 9to5, Josh plans to support the advancement of woman's issues while furthering his knowledge of non-profit work. Josh was drawn to 9to5 because of our commitment to workplace equality, involvement in our community, and our support of women's issues. Josh's experiences at 9to5 will provide a foundation for his career goals of creating social-change through nonprofit organizations.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Boost for Colorado's Lowest-Paid Workers

A grand total of $15,308 a year: That's the before-tax pay for a full-time worker making Colorado's minimum wage. The good news: that wage, of $7.36 an hour, is 11 cents more than it was last year. The bad news: the cost of everything else is going up.

Recent college graduate Laura Baker, who makes just above minimum wage, says that extra $20 a month will really help.

"For a salaried person, that may sound a little bit trivial, but for people who are just struggling to make sure they can go buy groceries, twenty bucks is a lot. That can help you buy a bus pass. It can help you buy school supplies for your kids."

Baker says she works two lower-paid part-time jobs, and has been unable to find work in her chosen profession.

The National Employment Law Project reports that nearly 60,000 Colorado workers make minimum wage, which still puts them below the federal poverty level. In all, nearly one-fifth of Coloradans make at or below poverty-level wages.

In Colorado, the minimum wage increases when cost of living goes up, and last year it was the only state where the minimum wage decreased because the cost of living had fallen slightly.

Ann Thompson, policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project, says increasing pay for the lowest-paid workers produces a variety of benefits, from lowered absenteeism and improved morale to boosting the economy.

"Putting a little bit more money in the pockets of people who are most likely to spend their income immediately can give a little bit of a bump to the state's economies."

Colorado is one of 17 states with wages higher than the federal minimum, and one of seven where the minimum wage increased this month. Thompson says other states use the federal minimum wage standard, which is $7.25 an hour.

"One of the big problems we've seen over the last 40 years with minimum wage policy is that the federal minimum wage especially has failed to keep up with the rising cost of living. "

Thompson says if the federal minimum wage had been pegged to the cost of living, it would be more than $10 an hour. Opponents of indexing the state or federal minimum wage claim it increases costs to business, with very little benefit to workers.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

44 Million U.S. Workers Lacked Paid Sick Days in 2010

Many employees could not take time off when sick,
including up to four out of five food service workers.

WASHINGTON, DC--New research from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) finds that, after correcting for job tenure requirements imposed by employers, only 58 percent of private sector employees in the U.S. had access to paid sick days in 2010. Overall, 44 million private sector employees in the U.S. lacked paid sick days.

IWPR's estimate for employees who lack paid sick days is four percentage points higher than the most recent estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics using data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The NCS data does not account for employees who are not yet covered for paid sick days due to employer-imposed requirements for job tenure. On average, employees have to wait 78 business days (about 3.5 months) before access to paid sick days is available to them.

"The fewer the number of workers who are able to stay home when sick, the more likely it is that diseases will spread, increasing health care costs and causing needless economic losses," said Dr. Robert Drago, director of research with IWPR. "We saw this during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic when workers without paid sick days were more likely to go to work while infected with H1N1."

With only 23 percent able to access paid sick days, employees in the food service and preparation industry have the lowest rate of access. Occupations with both low rates of eligibility for paid sick days and high rates of employee turnover not surprisingly generate extremely low rates of coverage--leaving workers much more vulnerable in the event of sudden illness or injury. These also include jobs in construction and extraction, personal care and service, and protective services.

"This study has important implications for the nation's economy," said Debra Ness, president of theNational Partnership for Women & Families. "With unemployment so high and job searches taking so long, greater access to earned paid sick days will help ensure that workers won't lose their jobs if they get sick or a child needs care. That is especially important for low-income workers who are already struggling terribly in this recession."

San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee have passed laws requiring that employers provide paid sick days to workers. Similar laws are being considered in states and cities around the country including New York City. The Healthy Families Act, introduced in Congress every year since 2005, would mandate employer-provided paid sick days at the national level.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.

Contact: Caroline Dobuzinskis, Communications Manager
Phone: 202-785-5100