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Minimum Wage Action Heating Up in February

Posted by Agata Pelka, Fellow | Posted on: February 25, 2015 at 03:37 pm

Walmart made headlines last week when it announced plans to increase the base pay at their stores to $9 an hour ($1.75 above the current federal minimum wage) in April and to $10 by February 2016. While $10 an hour is still not enough for a full-time worker to keep a family of four out of poverty, it will boost paychecks for close to 500,000 full-time and part-time hourly workers at Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. stores—about 40% of their current workers—and represents an important victory for the employee activists of OUR Walmart, who have vowed to continue to fight for a $15 base wage and fairer workplace policies. The move also adds a huge corporation to the list of companies recognizing that better wages can mean better business, and more will likely follow suit; just today, T.J. Maxx announced that it will also raise the minimum pay in its line of stores to $10 an hour by 2016, describing the change as “an important part of our strategies to continue attracting and retaining the best talent in order to deliver a great shopping experience for our customers, remain competitive on wages in our U.S. markets and stay focused on our value mission.”

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The Phony Crisis in Social Security Disability Insurance — And Other Things Women Should Know About SSDI

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: February 25, 2015 at 10:58 am

Some lawmakers are saying that Social Security is facing a crisis. The Senate Budget Committee recently held a hearing on “The Coming Crisis: Social Security Disability Trust Fund Insolvency;” today, a House subcommittee is holding a hearing on the “looming insolvency of the Disability Insurance program.”

Sounds scary—and that’s the idea. Cuts to Social Security benefits are really unpopular; in fact, a large majority of Americans supports increases in Social Security benefits and increases in taxes to pay for them. But some lawmakers want to cut benefits. Manufacturing a crisis and pitting groups against each other—young against old, retirees against people with disabilities—just might make it possible to push benefit cuts through.

So as the debate heats up over Social Security—and specifically Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—here are a few things you should know.

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Big Night at the Oscars for Equal Pay for (Some) Women

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Assistant | Posted on: February 23, 2015 at 12:55 pm

The Academy Awards are, in one word, big. Big awards, big celebrities, big blockbusters, big hair…and in recent years, a big social media presence. Last year, a selfie tweeted by host Ellen DeGeneres “broke Twitter.” This year, that honor went to a surprising but overdue recipient: the call for equal pay.

The awards night thank you speech is a moment that, let’s be honest, sends a lot of us channel-surfing. But Patricia Arquette used that moment to tell millions of people about the critical need for fair pay. “It’s our time,” she said, “to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

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Misclassification of Workers: Fraud, Plain and Simple

Posted by Agata Pelka, Fellow | Posted on: February 19, 2015 at 05:15 pm

In his remarks at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages last month, Secretary Tom Perez spoke about how “[W]orkers are undercut by the abusive practice of misclassification. Let me be clear: when you improperly categorize your employees as independent contractors — stripping them of rights and benefits in the process, dodging your own tax obligations as an employer — what you're doing is committing fraud, plain and simple.”

Millions of women work in occupations that are most often misclassified, including child care and home health care. Employees who are wrongly classified as independent contractors are deprived of employment protections and entitlements, such as being paid the minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment benefits, and employer contributions to Social Security. In addition, the government loses out on revenue from payroll taxes that employers should have paid for those workers.

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State Advocates’ Agenda for Private Health Insurance in 2015

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: February 18, 2015 at 02:08 pm

Cross-posted from FamiliesUSA — posted by Cheryl Fish-Parcham and Claire McAndrew

Around the country, health care advocates are developing advocacy agendas to ensure that private health insurance plans meet consumers’ needs. From addressing high costs for consumers to strengthening provider networks to improving prescription drug formularies, advocates have a lot of work planned this year to improve private insurance. 

Here, we list some of the top private insurance issues that are on advocates’ 2015 agendas, along with best practices and resources that advocates shared with their peers at our Health Action conference

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Winning the Lottery Shouldn’t Be the Only Ticket to Economic Security

Posted by Amanda Hooper, Outreach Manager | Posted on: February 13, 2015 at 05:33 pm

Most of us have probably thought about what we’d do if we won the lottery. From the more financially responsible options—pay off student loans, buy a house, invest in retirement accounts—to the more far-fetched (lifetime supply of chocolate, anyone?), the possibilities are endless.

This week, that dream came true for Marie Holmes, a single mother of four from North Carolina who won $188 million from Powerball

Accounts of Holmes’ win mention that until recently, she had been working two jobs at McDonald’s and Walmart to support her children, one of whom lives with cerebral palsy. And although we don’t have in-depth details about Holmes’ job situation or family life, the basics of her story—working more than one low-wage job and struggling to take care of her children—echo the experiences of women across the country.

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3 Things You Could Get For $79 Billion Other Than Business Tax Breaks

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: February 13, 2015 at 05:04 pm

Before heading out for the President’s Day recess, the House of Representatives passed a package of business tax breaks that would cost $79 billion over the next 10 years. The bill doesn’t close any tax loopholes, so all of its cost would be added to the deficit.

At the National Women’s Law Center, we’ve been reviewing President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget—and it proposes much better ways to invest $79 billion:

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Abortion Providers Are Not Criminals. You Can Keep Your Handcuffs.

Posted by Brandie Temple, Well Woman's Benefit Hotline Coordinator | Posted on: February 13, 2015 at 02:15 pm

On this year’s 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion providers around the country received plastic handcuffs with notes that read “Could you be next?” The organization who sent them said their intent was to “make a connection.” Yeah, right.  

Unfortunately, working at an abortion clinic often means receiving harassing mail, faxes, and phone calls. But it doesn’t stop there.  According to the  National Clinic Violence Survey [PDF] by the Feminist Majority Foundation, nearly one in five abortion clinics experience severe violence, including arsons, bombings, and gunfire, and in the last four years, targeted intimidation of and threats to abortion providers, clinics, and staff has increased significantly, with 51.9% of clinics affected by some form of harassment or intimidation. The most widely reported types of harassment include the mailing of anti-choice brochures and the posting of personal information on the internet.

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