Thursday, March 31, 2011

Join 9to5 Today to Support Women's Equality!

I joined 9to5 because women still do not have the equality in the workplace that they deserve. As a student, advocate, and believer in female equality, 9to5 struck me as the most progressive organization for achieving the ultimate goals of equal wages, ending workplace discrimination, and raising support for family friendly policies. 9to5 supports individuals through our sexual harassment hotline and seeks bigger change through legislative policies. It is important to advocate for your beliefs, which is why I believe you should join 9to5 today.

9to5 is not just for women. By becoming a male member, you are establishing your support for workplace equality and fighting to end the deep system of discrimination. A male 9to5 member is fighting to protect the rights of their mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, spouses, and more.

Please become a 9to5 member during our membership drive. Your support helps maintain our Job Survival Helpline that serves thousands of women who have no where else to turn, funds our workshops, keeps us pursuing the family first legislation each year, and connects you to a community of like minded individuals who are working for a greater cause. Thanks for your support!

By Josh Murphy, 9to5 Colorado Intern

Thursday, March 24, 2011


State Legislature Seeking to Overturn Paid Sick Day Ordinance Approved by Voters, Courts

MILWAUKEEFollowing this morning’s historic Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Milwaukee’s paid sick day ordinance, a broad coalition of Milwaukee Alders, working people, health care advocates and good governance groups rallied at City Hall. The group gathered to call on the State Legislature to halt efforts to preempt the city’s law and to respect the court’s decision and the votes of nearly 70% of the Milwaukee electorate who approved the groundbreaking law. The court’s historic ruling lifts a two-year injunction that has halted implementation of the paid sick day law.

“Milwaukeeans have made their decision on paid sick days, and now the courts have upheld their vote,” said Dana Schultz, Lead Organizer for 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. “The State Legislature should not be trying to rob voters in Milwaukee and cities across the state of their basic right to local decision-making on sick days or any other laws.”

“Wisconsin courts are making decisions to protect working families and voters,” said Schultz. “It’s time for the State Legislature to stop its attacks on hard-working families and get to work on policies that will help create jobs and grow our economy.”

The group called on state Assembly Members to vote against the bill that would strip local municipalities of some of their legislative power. The Sick Days Scam (AB41) would preempt local governments and voters from enacting the Milwaukee paid sick day legislation, and in doing so, open the door for the State Legislature to overturn a range of legislation passed in towns and cities throughout Wisconsin. The state Senate already passed the bill with no debate when the Democratic senators were still absent in early March.

“This bill is inconsistent with Wisconsin’s tradition of local municipalities having discretion, whether through direct legislation or their own power, to shape these matters,” said Kathleen Dolan, Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “It is also inconsistent with the Republican ideology that says, ‘Leave the states alone, one size does not fit all, top down is not always the best thing.’ Here they are trying to impose a position on localities who may want to determine their own needs.”

Wisconsin has a rich history of local governance, in which municipalities enact legislation that best meets the needs of their communities. In 2008, nearly 70% of Milwaukee voters approved a law to provide paid sick days for workers in the city. The law would provide 120,000 Milwaukee families who do not have paid sick days of the freedom to take care of ill family members without fear of losing their jobs or a paycheck.

“The voters spoke in 2008. The court has now spoken,” said James H. Hall, Jr., President of the NAACP Milwaukee Branch. “From the beginning, NAACP Milwaukee Branch has supported this measure which clearly benefits working people and citizens of Milwaukee. NAACP will continue to support workers’ rights and vigorously oppose other measures that undercut the rights of all citizens of Milwaukee.”

New research on paid sick day laws in other cities shows significant benefits for workers and minimal impact on businesses. A study last month of San Francisco’s paid sick days law shows business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law. Other studies have shown that employees are healthier and more productive when they have access to paid sick days.

“Providing paid sick days helps workers keep their jobs,” said Amy L. Kirkland, RN and President of Nurses & Medical Staffing, Inc. “That’s good for business owners, saves us money in turnover and health care costs, and boosts productivity.”

The Court of Appeal’s decision lifts a two-year injunction that has halted implementation of the paid sick day law. Before the law could be implemented, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) had filed suit against the City of Milwaukee challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. 9to5, National Association of Working Women intervened in the case and continued to defend the ordinance through the state court system.

During the rally, a number of working people spoke about the need for paid sick days. Rhonda Willette, an organizer at 9to5 Wisconsin, shared her daughter’s story. “At eight months pregnant, my daughter had an asthma attack. When she returned to work three days later with a medical statement, she was fired. She hadn’t been there long enough to qualify for FMLA. No one would hire her at eight months pregnant, and she became homeless.”


9to5 Milwaukee is a diverse, membership-based grassroots organization that strengthens the ability of low wage women to win economic justice. It has been the lead group in the broad-based Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Coalition. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How I Benefited from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

By Babs Nelson

When I was 52 years old the company where I had worked as an Administrative Assistant for 8½ years went through its third “downsizing” and I lost my job. Over the next 4 years, I worked sporadically in temporary assignments and was unable to find permanent employment. I hit my low in 2006 when a combination of poor financial decisions and the Hoarding aspect of my Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder led to the loss of the condo I had rented for 9 years. I stayed in a shelter, and after that eye-opening experience, I was lucky to be accepted by a women’s residence operated by the Volunteers of America (VOA). While there, I rejoined the world of regular 8:00 to 5:00 workers. Unfortunately, due to my perfectionism, I was not a good fit and was let go after 10 months. The VOA home closed, but I was able to move into another VOA residence that provides transitional housing for homeless women.

In November of 2009, I visited Bayaud Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that helps those with disabilities or other barriers to employment, such as homelessness, find work. Just over a week later, I was hired as the Assistant Instructor for their General Office Skills Training program. Initially, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded the position, and later, Bayaud hired me directly. I find the work extremely rewarding as I help students learn necessary skills, including: typing, computer programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, communication, and self esteem. I also sit on the Bayaud Homeless Advisory Council that works to ensure Bayaud successfully supports our homeless clients. I no longer take any blessings for granted and am grateful for each day and thankful that Recovery Act helped me reach economic security and is helping to strengthen the middle class.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are you a 9to5 member yet ?!?

February 1st marked the kickoff of 9to5’s Nationwide Membership Drive! Over the next four months, 9to5 members across the country will be telling family, friends, and coworkers why they care about working women’s issues – and inviting them to join our movement by becoming a member of 9to5.

On average, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. If there was ever a time to join the movement to improve women’s lives at work, it’s now!

When you become a member of 9to5, your contribution supports our grassroots organizing efforts to win change on issues such as paid sick days and family-friendly workplace policies, as well as help continue the work of programs like our Job Survival Helpline and our leadership training workshops for low-wage working women.

Becoming a member of 9to5 connects you to a nationwide network of women and activists who care about working women’s issues. It also empowers you to become an agent of change on the issues that directly impact your life.

As a member of 9to5, you will:

  • Be invited to local, regional, and national leadership conferences
  • Participate in trainings to develop your leadership, organizing, advocacy and fundraising skills
  • Receive action alerts on state and national legislation to expand workplace rights and family-friendly policies
  • Be connected with working women, activists, and resources across the country

Ways to join:

  • $15 reduced membership rate during the drive
  • $25 membership plus a 9to5 t-shirt ( featured in the picture)
  • Give an additional scholarship membership donation to help low-wage working women become members
How to join:
  • Click here to visit the membership page on the 9to5 website.
  • Visit our Facebook Causes page to join and donate – it couldn’t be easier!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Attacking Wisconsin’s Middle Class

Media coverage of Madison’s thousands of demonstrators has focused on Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. Members of 9to5, Association of Working Women have stood with those calling for fairness for working families. But it’s clear that governor and conservative state legislators’ agenda is bigger than just union busting. To benefit their corporate masters, they are determined to deny the American Dream to the vast majority of Wisconsinites.

Public workers don’t make big bucks but they are the backbone of the middle class. They are teachers who tutor struggling students so they’re prepared for college, vocational school or a trade. They are police and firefighters who protect us when the unthinkable happens. They are nurses who vaccinate children so we no longer have polio and diphtheria epidemics. They are $9.00/hour home health care workers helping individuals live in their homes with dignity. They keep the economy humming by paying their mortgages, buying groceries and purchasing clothes items that keep our Main Street small businesses afloat.

Throughout the years, public employees and their unions have accepted lower paychecks to defer money to their pensions and health care. Despite this, they’ve agreed to wage and benefit concessions to help do their share in balancing the state budget.

In sharp contrast to their “jobs, jobs, jobs” campaign promises, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing tax breaks to corporations and the rich that will decimate the state’s budget revenue. To pay for their millionaire friends’ favors, they propose to cut already stretched-thin funding for education, police, firefighters and human services, all provided by public employees.

In a now-public recorded call to Gov. Walker in which a journalist pretended to be anti-union billionaire David Koch, the men discuss plans to threaten public workers with layoffs, attempts to divide public and private sector unions, and their hope that their anti-union efforts could spread nationwide.

Let’s be clear: This showdown is NOT about balancing the state budget. It’s about union busting, pure and simple. The upshot of these efforts is to take away power and family-supporting jobs from working families.

Meanwhile, Gov. Walker and allied legislators have launched other attacks on all working families in both the public and private sectors. Their budget gives themselves the power to slash health care – a key middle class support – for the 1.1 million Wisconsinites relying on Medicaid.

They’ve proposed rolling back Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act. Employees working less than 25 hours per week would no longer be eligible for family leave, and employers could deny the use of accrued sick time to cover lost pay. Many would be forced to take unpaid leave for emergencies, putting their homes, families and even their jobs at risk.

In an end run around Milwaukee’s paid sick days policy, passed by 70% of that city’s voters in 2008, these legislators have introduced a bill to prevent municipalities from enacting paid sick days laws.

Proponents of these measures suggest they’re needed to boost industry and jobs but Wisconsin’s biggest companies are thriving, even through the recession. Mercury Marine reported profits of $1.1 billion between 2000-2007 while paying nothing in state corporate income taxes. Harley-Davidson’s profits have increased – profits The New York Timesdocumented as “…mostly going to shareholders instead of the broader economy.” Nevertheless, hearing the mantra of “you’re lucky to have jobs,” Harley workers were forced to take pay cuts.

The Governor and allied legislators are pulling the rug out from under middle class families because they want to bust unions and strip hard-won protections like health care, family leave and paid sick days from workers to enrich their corporate campaign contributors.

It’s time for people across Wisconsin and the nation to stand up for working families against policies that would degrade their pay and security.

About the Author: Linda Meric is the Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, a national membership-based organization of low-income women working to improve policies on issues that directly affect them.