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Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel

Julie Vogtman is Senior Counsel for the Family Economic Security Program at the National Women’s Law Center. She works on a range of issues involving economic support for low-income women and their families, including minimum wage policies, unemployment benefits, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). She also contributes to the Center’s work on federal budget and tax policies, including implementation of the tax credit components of the Affordable Care Act.  Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Vogtman was an associate with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Furman University and Georgetown University Law Center.

My Take

Celebrating Progress on the Minimum Wage

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 30, 2013 at 01:56 pm

Labor Day weekend is almost here, and I hope you have fun plans in store. I, for one, intend to observe the holiday with a few last lazy hours by the pool and a backyard barbecue. Of course, no barbecue is complete without some refreshing beverages – and this Labor Day, I’ll be raising my glass to toast this year’s major progress toward a higher minimum wage.

Perhaps you’re wondering what about the minimum wage could be worth celebrating; after all, the federal minimum wage has been stuck for more than four years at just $7.25 an hour, a level that leaves a full-time working mom with two kids thousands of dollars below the poverty line. $7.25 is more than $3.00 below where the minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past four decades, and only about half the wage civil rights leaders called for 50 years ago during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Today’s low minimum wage especially harms women and their families, since women are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers – and about two-thirds of tipped workers like restaurant servers, for whom the federal minimum cash wage has been frozen at just $2.13 an hour for 22 years.

But I believe we’re getting closer every day to better pay for low-wage workers, thanks to the tremendous momentum that is building from the ground up. Here’s how change is happening:

From coast to coast, people are calling (loudly!) for higher wages.

Just yesterday, thousands of fast food workers amplified their campaign for higher wages in a national day of action, with strikes in about 60 cities across the country. July 24th – the four-year anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase – saw similar nationwide protests.


ICYMI: On Fast Food Wages, the Daily Show Nailed It

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 05, 2013 at 04:36 pm

I’m recently back from my summer vacation, and one of my favorite ways to catch up on the news is to watch the Daily Show episodes that have lined up on my Tivo. Read more...

I Agree with Leader Pelosi: When Women Succeed, America Succeeds

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 18, 2013 at 04:32 pm

This week marks the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in U.S. history. The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the convention asserted that “all men and women are created equal” and called for legal and societal reforms reflecting that equal status, including “securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce” and – more radical still – granting women the right to vote.

This afternoon on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and several other House Democrats – women and men – gathered with women’s rights advocates of today to recognize the immense progress that women have made since 1848 – as well as the work yet to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunity to support themselves and their families. To address the challenges facing women in the 21st century, they unveiled an important new initiative, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families.”

Leader Pelosi with other Members of Congress and Women's Rights Advocates on the Hill

As Leader Pelosi observed in her remarks, women now make up close to half of the U.S. workforce, and more families rely on women’s income than ever before. At the same time, women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers, and the typical woman working full time, year round is paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. Workplace policies that fail to accommodate the needs of working parents and inadequate access to high-quality, affordable child care compound economic challenges for many women. Throughout their lives, women are more likely than men to experience poverty.


When Will the Minimum Wage Go Up?

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 28, 2013 at 01:45 pm

It's a fitting question to ask this week, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the landmark law that established the first federal minimum wage. And it's a particularly important question for women, who make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationwide.

The answer, though, depends a lot on where you live. A majority of states follow the federal minimum wage, which is not scheduled to rise even though it has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for almost four years — and for tipped workers in states that follow the federal standard, the minimum cash wage has been frozen at a shockingly low $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. But in states like Washington, Colorado, Ohio, and Vermont, the minimum wage will automatically rise in January 2014 to keep up with inflation, and minimum wage increases recently enacted in New YorkConnecticut, and Rhode Island will also begin to take effect in 2014. 

To make it easy for you to find out what’s happening with the minimum wage in your state, the National Women's Law Center just released this handy interactive map

Find out how the low minimum wage affects women in your state

You can click on any state to see its minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, along with the share of minimum wage workers who are women, the next scheduled increase in the minimum wage, and any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature. 


The FLSA's Unfinished Business: Coverage for Home Care Workers

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the cornerstone federal labor law that established the first federal minimum wage and overtime standards. As my colleague Colette Irving explains in her post today, the history of the FLSA has included some big steps forward — and a few steps back — for women over the past 75 years. 

The expansion of FLSA coverage in 1974 to domestic workers working in private homes was one such step forward, as women represented the majority of domestic workers who benefited from this expansion. But an exemption enacted at the same time had an adverse impact on women that has only grown worse over time. Specifically, the 1974 FLSA amendments created a “companionship exemption,” which Congress intended to exclude only casual babysitters or “elder-sitters” from the domestic service coverage. However, in 1975, the Department of Labor (DOL) interpreted this exemption very broadly to cover home care workers employed by third parties — workers who, prior to the 1974 amendments, had been protected under the FLSA’s provisions regulating enterprises engaged in interstate commerce

Since 1975, this expansive reading of the companionship exemption has proven to be disastrous for women, who represent about 90 percent of the home care workforce.