Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Womenstake, NWLC's Blog

Couldn't Live the Wage This Week? Neither Can the Workers Waiting for Congress to Take Action.

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: August 01, 2014 at 02:05 pm

We say it all the time: You can't make ends meet on a minimum wage income (just $14,500 a year for full time, year round work!). But looking at the numbers is entirely different than trying to live that reality.

Over the past week, advocates and elected officials attempted to live off a minimum wage budget to highlight just how tough it is to stretch these very low wages. The current federal minimum wage — $7.25 per hour — leaves a full-time worker with just $77 per week, after paying for housing costs and taxes. As a result, Live the Wage Challenge participants had to budget their $77 very carefully to cover food, transportation, and any other needs. For most challenge-takers, it was an impossible task.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio took the challenge, and he wrote about how any unanticipated cost — like filling prescriptions for his new baby — threw off his strategy for the week. For Rep. Jan Schakowsky, careful menu planning was essential to stretching her budget — but that still wasn't enough. At the challenge's closing event, she said what workers around the country know to be true: "$7.25 an hour is not enough to live on. It's just not." NWLC's own Julie Vogtman wrote about how, as a new mom, she couldn't take the challenge; $77 simply wouldn't cover child care, baby necessities, and her own basic needs.

The challenge wasn't about truly capturing what low-wage workers face; after all, participants didn't have to figure out housing costs with their weekly budget, and they weren't expected to stop paying their child care providers or skip needed medications. But those limits to the challenge demonstrate just how impossible minimum wage budgeting is.

Read more... 1 comment

From Campus to Congress, Ending Sexual Assault Must Be a Priority

Posted by Michaela Olson, Intern | Posted on: August 01, 2014 at 01:15 pm

I may be in denial about ending my (wonderful) internship at NWLC in just a few weeks, but I'm also excited for what the end of summer means: heading back for one more year at college. Going back to campus means a lot of great things — seeing faraway friends for the first time in months, starting work on my undergrad thesis, and eating tons of soft serve ice cream from the dining hall.

But it also means, apparently, that I'm statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted than my non-college student peers. My liberal arts college community, while idyllic in some ways, is also not immune to the endemic problem of campus sexual assault that you've probably heard about recently. While I don't actively worry about assault on a regular basis, I do carry my college-issued rape whistle on my key chain, and clutch it tightly when I walk alone at night.

This week, Congress introduced several new bills that address campus assault directly. I hope that these pieces of legislation will open up a much-needed dialogue on and off Capitol Hill, about how to move forward and find new strategies for eradicating this pervasive crime from all campuses and communities.

Read more... 1 comment

Fifth Circuit Keeps Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Open - For Now

Posted by Abigail Barnes, Intern | Posted on: August 01, 2014 at 10:24 am

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked a law that would have shut down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic in Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier

Mississippi passed the law in 2012, requiring abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges. The two doctors at the state’s only clinic were denied privileges at every hospital to which they applied. If the law had gone into effect, the clinic would have been forced to close. 

In a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the lower court that Mississippi’s law would likely impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion. This means that the law cannot be enforced against the clinic while the litigation continues. 

The state had argued that women in Mississippi could still travel outside the state to receive abortion care. Judge E. Grady Jolly rejected this argument, writing for the majority, “Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state.” 

This is great news for the women of Mississippi, but the fight is far from over. Just last month, neighboring Louisiana enacted a law modeled after the one in Mississippi, and similar restrictions continue to be passed across the country

Read more... 1 comment

Underpaid, Overloaded, and Overrepresented: Findings from NWLC's New Report on Women in Low-Wage Jobs

Posted by | Posted on: July 30, 2014 at 01:15 pm

There are 20 million low-wage workers in the United States — and two-thirds of them are women. 

Unless women have a bachelor's degree, they are overrepresented in low-wage jobs. 

Even in low-wage jobs, women working full time, year round make just 87 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. 

These are some of the findings in National Women’s Law Center’s new report Underpaid & Overloaded: Women in Low-Wage Jobs, which analyzes the low-wage workforce (people working in jobs that pay $10.10 per hour or less). The report is full of new data, which you can also explore in our new interactive graphic and map. It also has solutions for how we can lighten the load for low-wage workers.

Read more... 1 comment

Harmful Campus Sexual Harassment and Assault—Not a Free Speech Problem

Posted by Amelia Bell, Intern | Posted on: July 29, 2014 at 03:49 pm

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ briefing entitled “Enforcement of Sexual Harassment Policy at Educational Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.”

Read more... 1 comment

Marriage Equality Affirmed in the Fourth Circuit

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: July 29, 2014 at 10:19 am

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down its decision in Bostic v. Rainey, becoming the second federal appeals court to strike down bans on marriage between same-sex couples post-Windsor.

Read more... 1 comment

Recap: The Schedules That Work Act Briefing, July 22nd

Posted by Therese Salazar, Intern | Posted on: July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

The Schedules that Work Act was introduced in the House & Senate this past Tuesday, followed by a standing-room-only congressional briefing about why workers need fair work schedules.

Read more... 1 comment

The White House’s Champions of Change: A Call to Eliminate the Tipped Minimum Wage

Posted by Hana Bajramovic, Intern | Posted on: July 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

On Tuesday, July 22, the White House celebrated the Raise the Wage Champions of Change, a group of policymakers, workers, and business owners fighting for an increase in the minimum wage.

Read more... 1 comment