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Reversed: Supreme Court’s Harris Decision a Setback For Home Care Workers and Child Care Providers

Let’s cut to the chase: Today’s Supreme Court decision [PDF] in Harris v. Quinn is a setback for millions of women working in low-wage jobs. It limits the organizing rights of home care workers and child care providers--two overwhelmingly female and poorly paid groups of workers. Through unionization, these workers have secured better pay, training, and working conditions for themselves—and the seniors, people with disabilities, and children who rely on these workers have benefited from a more stable and qualified workforce. Today’s decision doesn’t mean these workers’ voices will be silenced, but it does mean we have our work cut out for us – and that begins now.

The case involved an Illinois state law that authorized home care workers paid by the Medicaid program to decide, by majority vote, whether to join a union. (There are more details on the Harris case in this earlier post.) These workers provide home health services to individuals needing care, ensuring that people with disabilities and the elderly are able to stay in their own homes and avoid institutionalization, when possible. The workforce is large, often isolated, and turnover is high; allowing workers to form a union to negotiate with the state gives them input into their working conditions.

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First Comes Summit, Then Comes Change — Next Steps for Working Families

Posted by Sara Edgar, Intern | Posted on: June 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

Earlier this week, the White House paired up with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress to hold a Summit on Working Families. People from all over the country, with many different views, came together over social media as well as in Washington, to discuss one common need: a change in the way America treats our working families. Needless to say, it was amazing, and for most of Monday my eyes were glued to the computer screen watching the live feed of the Summit. 

On Tuesday morning, I got to help MomsRising  deliver messages from working families all over the country to Senators and their staff members.  It was incredible to walk down the corridors of the Senate office buildings and feel that level of empowerment.  It really felt like the issues facing working families everywhere—the need for affordable, quality child care, paid sick days, paid family leave [PDF], and fairness for pregnant workers—were finally getting the spotlight and attention they deserved. We marched from office to office referring the messages and stories of families from all over the nation, as well as our own. We passed out booklets filled with stories of struggle and hardship, all calling for an update to the Mad Men era policies still on the books.

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Diary of a Former Clinic Intern: What McCullen Means to Me

Posted by Lauren Stewart, Intern | Posted on: June 27, 2014 at 09:37 am

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking a Massachusetts law that protects patient access to abortion clinics by prohibiting anyone, regardless of their position on abortion, to come within 35 feet of a facility. I was an intern, clinic volunteer, and patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Rhode Island from 2012-2013 and had my own share of experiences passing protestors as I made my way to the clinic’s doors.

Many mornings as I walked to my internship at the clinic in Providence,  a man wielding  pamphlets plastered with pictures of aborted fetuses would hiss things like “reconsider your decision” or “two beating hearts go in but one is coming out” or “you’re killing your baby.” He positioned himself in a way that in order to get from the parking lot to the clinic entrance, I had to walk right by him. He never touched me, but both his tone and his actions were clearly meant to intimidate me and anyone else going into the clinic.

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CEDAW, IVAWA, and US: Where We Go From Here

Posted by Samantha Hall, Intern | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 03:58 pm

Earlier this week, Senator Barbara Boxer’s “Combating Violence and Discrimination Against Women: A Global Call to Action” hearing revisited the US’s failure to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women—colloquially known as CEDAW, because that’s a mouthful—and its failure to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). The immensely popular hearing (there was a line to get into the overflow room) included testimony from many female senators, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray, and Tammy Baldwin, but it was the testimony of panelists directly involved in combating violence against women that held both the hearing room and overflow room in silence for the hour and a half-long hearing.

Five things to take away from the hearing:

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Promises Made, Promises Broken

Posted by Caitlin McCartney, Intern | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 02:30 pm

Last year, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. This decision invalidated key sections of the Act that protected voters from discrimination.

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The Massachusetts Buffer Zone Protected Me

Posted by Althea May Sellars, Well-Woman Benefits Hotline Coordinator | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 11:41 am

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in 2011 and was hired in 2012. When I worked there, I would always have the same routine. Every morning, I would grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts for my fifteen-minute walk. I would talk to a friend on the phone, until I would turn the corner right before the health center.

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Obama and the "Mad Men" Era: Harnessing Popular Culture at the Summit on Working Families

Posted by Hana Bajramovic, Intern | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 09:26 am

At last Monday’s White House Summit on Working Families, the President spoke about the need for family-friendly workplace policies, like child care, family leave, equal pay, and flexibility. Celebrity guest Christina Hendricks, who plays working mother Joan on AMC’s Mad Men, also spoke briefly: “Women come up to me and thank me for playing Joan,” she told the audience, adding that “the only place for a story like Joan[’s] should be on TV.”

Her appearance was, first and foremost, a smart move on the part of the White House to shift the conversation beyond the Beltway and policy wonks. President Obama frequently refers to policies “that belong in a Mad Men episode.” In this year’s State of the Union address, for example, he used the phrase to argue that a woman deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job; that she deserves equal pay for equal work; and that she deserves a day off to care for a sick child or parent. By rooting such policies in concrete television show imagery, Obama is able to heighten their staying power.

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Another Birthday, Another Attack on Title IX

Title IX is 42 years old this week.  The law, which forced open the doors to education for women and girls, is well known for its impact in sports.  Even though many girls across the country still don’t receive equal opportunities to play sports [PDF], opponents of Title IX say the law has gone far

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