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Press Release: Statement by 9to5 Executive Director Linda Meric on the State of the Union Address

Press Release: Statement by 9to5 Executive Director Linda Meric on the State of the Union Address

January 29, 2013

Contact: Linda Meric, National Executive Director,
(303) 628-0925 x15 or lindam@9to5.org

“She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.”  With this statement, President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address spotlighted a major dilemma for most American families – and for 9to5’s membership of low-wage women in particular.

The workplace hasn’t kept up with changes in the workforce or in families. We need to catch up with the rest of the world and, more importantly, with the reality of U.S. families. Congress needs to pass policies like paid sick days (Healthy Families Act) and family and medical leave insurance (the FAMILY Act) so that no one loses a job or a paycheck to care for their family.

This State of the Union address was framed in a discussion of opportunity, action and optimism.  The President focused on goals that 9to5 has long supported – decreasing inequality and increasing opportunity for all Americans, including:

  • Extending emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, which expired in late December when Congress refused to take action. To date, 1.6 million have lost benefits, and 72,000 more join their ranks each week that Congress fails to act.
  • Passing comprehensive immigration reform. 75% of US immigrants are women and children. They suffer the most from deportations and families being torn apart while the Congress does nothing.
  • Announcement of an Executive Order to raise minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10/hour, and calling on Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act so that all minimum wage workers get a much-needed raise.

Noting that women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, the President said this is “wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.”  We agree that the Congress needs to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen our equal pay laws. Until that happens, we urge the President to sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal government contractors from retaliating against employees who disclose or seek salary information.  This will allow women to find out and take action when they are paid less for the same work.

9to5 members know what the solutions are and will continue to fight for them. Now is the time for action by Congress, by the President and by all of us.  Because we agree with President Obama, that “when women succeed, America succeeds.”

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About 9to5: With forty years’ experience in winning justice for working women, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families. 9to5 organizes women to lead campaigns for family-supporting jobs with decent wages and paid sick days; stronger protections against workplace discrimination; and a strong safety net for low-income families. As one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S., we’ve won real changes since the hit song and movie based on 9to5 hit the charts. To learn more or to get involved, visit 9to5.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.