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Can Your Family Live on the Minimum Wage? Mine Can't.

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

Today is July 24th – five years to the day since the federal minimum wage last went up. At $7.25 per hour, the current minimum wage typically leaves a full-time worker with just $77 per week to spend after accounting for housing costs and taxes. To shed light on what that kind of income really means for working families, advocates across the country, including NWLC, are promoting the “Live the Wage” challenge. From today through July 30, participants in the challenge will attempt to live on a minimum wage budget – just $77 to cover food, transportation, and other expenses for the entire week.

The Live the Wage challenge presents an important opportunity to grasp the daily struggles facing low-wage workers, and I hope huge numbers participate. But for me, I know taking the challenge means failure on the very first day. That’s because I’m a new mom, just recently back at work, and I have a staggering new expense in my weekly budget: child care.

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Workers Are Making Their Voices Heard in Support of The Schedules That Work Act!

Posted by Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women | Posted on: July 23, 2014 at 03:54 pm

Yesterday, Representatives Miller and DeLauro and Senators Harkin and Warren introduced the Schedules That Work Act. This groundbreaking legislation would give all Americans a say in when they work and curb the most abusive scheduling practices in certain low-wage jobs. At a congressional briefing, workers from the restaurant, retail and fast food industries explained to a standing room only crowd what it’s like to have no clue what your schedule will be from one day to the next, and why we need the Schedules That Work Act.

Schedules That Work

Schedules That Work Act Press Conference –7.22.14. From Left to Right: Sandy Kossangba (ROC), Representative Rosa DeLauro, Melody Pabon (RAP), Sherry Hamilton-Elder (RWDSU), Tiffany Beroid (OW), Liz Watson (NWLC), Representative George Miller, and Mary Coleman (Wisconsin Jobs NOW).

Here’s what they said:

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House Set To Vote on Child Tax Credit Improvement* Act (*Improvement Not Included)

Posted by Susanna Birdsong, Fellow | Posted on: July 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Improvement. It’s a subjective word, I guess. Otherwise how does H.B. 4935 get to call itself the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014? The House is set to vote on the bill this week, and although it sounds like a winner, for millions of low-income working families it is exactly the opposite.

First, a little background. The Child Tax Credit was created in 1997 to help families meet the expenses of raising children. Since then, it has had a couple of edits (dare I say improvements?) that make it more valuable to lower-income families. In 2003, the credit value was raised from $500 to $1,000 per eligible child—but millions of working-poor families got little or no benefit from the credit until 2009. That year, the amount that a family must earn for the refundable portion of the credit to begin to phase in was lowered to $3,000. The 2009 provision meant that parents could receive 15 cents for every dollar they earn above $3,000 (up to the $1,000 per child limit) as a refund. For a mother with two children working full-time at the minimum wage and earning $14,500 a year, this boosted the value of the credit from less than $200 to $1,725.

Now that’s an improvement.

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Senate Poised to Vote on More Judges

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: July 23, 2014 at 11:27 am

Yesterday evening, the Senate confirmed three district court nominees (Andre Birotte to the Central District of California, Robin Rosenberg to the Southern District of Florida, and John deGravelles to the Middle District of Louisiana). These votes follow on the heels of the confirmation of Julie Carnes to a Georgia-based seat on the Eleventh Circuit, 94-0, on Monday evening. In addition, last night, Senate Majority Leader Reid filed cloture on the nomination of Pamela Harris to a Maryland seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the question of whether or not it will move to a confirmation vote on Harris’ nomination.

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The Next Effort to Gut Health Reform – A Tale of Two Decisions

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 22, 2014 at 01:21 pm

Today, two circuit courts ruled on whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows individuals enrolled in health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace to receive federal subsidies to help with health insurance costs, specifically premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

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10 Comments That Make It Clear: Workers Need Schedules That Work

Posted by Molly Dilts, Intern | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 04:28 pm

Imagine getting to work for your scheduled shift after taking an hour-long bus commute only to be told to go home without clocking in because there were enough employees there already. Seems ridiculous, right? But that was Mary Coleman’s reality when she arrived at work at a Popeye’s in Milwaukee.

Her story was published last Wednesday in a New York Times article on the unpredictable workplace hours and short notice scheduling that are a reality for many workers. Readers had a lot to say about the issue – it garnered more than 440 responses in the comment section.

Many readers were shocked and angry about the unfair treatment that Mary and other workers faced, and others had personal stories about unpredictable scheduling in their own workplaces.

Here are 10 of our favorite comments from the NYT article from readers who agree that fair hours and predictable scheduling are rights that should be given to all workers.

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The Power of Presidential Pen

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 03:26 pm

This morning, I was lucky enough to be there in person to see President Obama sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as explicitly adding “gender identity” to the federal government’s own nondiscrimination in employment policy (which already prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation).

As the President said this morning, while we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality, today’s milestone is an important moment to take stock of the extraordinary progress made “not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years, in the last two years, in the last one year. We’re on the right side of history.”

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The Women's Health Protection Act: Protecting Women's Right to Choose

Posted by Ashley Bender, Intern | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 03:20 pm

What do mandatory delays, biased counseling requirements, stringent physical building standards, and restrictions on the use of telemedicine all have in common?

They are all examples of the kinds of medically unnecessary laws passed by state politicians that target abortion clinics, providers, and patients with the goal of eliminating access to abortion. Between 2011 and 2013, states have enacted over 200 restrictions on abortion, and they just keep coming. These restrictions mean that women and providers have to fight in court just to keep abortion clinics open. These restrictions mean that the entire Rio Grande Valley is without a single provider. That’s over 1 million people without access. These restrictions mean that a woman’s constitutional right depends on her zip code.

But women and members of Congress are fighting back. The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, would undo many of the dizzying number of restrictions passed in recent years. This bill would nullify laws that purport to protect women’s health but, in reality and intent, restrict women’s access to the reproductive health care they need and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

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