Today, the Senate will vote on amendments to a bill that restores recently enacted cuts to military retirement pay. The big question for most Senators is not whether to reverse the cuts, but whether and how to cover the $6 billion hole that such a reversal will leave in our newly enacted budget deal. One such “pay-for” proposal comes from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who favors eliminating the refundable Child Tax Credit for immigrant families with children who file their taxes using temporary identification numbers, or ITINs, instead of Social Security numbers.
Refundable tax credits like the EITC provide an infusion of cash at tax time that helps families pay down debt, cover major expenses like car repairs, and otherwise make up for all those other months when—no matter how many corners they cut—ends just don’t quite meet. For my clients, it was a once a year lifesaver.
Today is EITC Awareness Day. In honor and recognition of the significant difference that refundable tax credits have made in the lives of low-income women and their families for almost four decades, here are four important things to know: Read more »
In last night’s State of the Union speech President Obama described how women are hit hard by growing income inequality in America. He's right. Women make up 60% of those workers in jobs paying under $10.10 an hour – jobs like home health aide, child care worker, and cashier. Sixty percent of the job gains by women in the recovery were in the 10 largest low-wage jobs, as compared to 20% for men. And in jobs with the largest projected job growth over the next decade, almost half are low-wage and nearly two-thirds are female-dominated.
But it's not just the wages in these jobs that are unequal. It's also the working conditions and especially the work and family conditions – including abusive scheduling practices, lack of paid leave and paid sick days and the overall mistreatment of workers who are pregnant or have caregiving needs.
Pregnant workers who have requested minor job accommodations during pregnancy have been forced off the job instead. A pregnant food service worker had so little control over her own destiny at work that she was required to ask for breaks to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water – even though her coworkers weren’t – and when she did ask, she was yelled at and sometimes her requests were denied. She was later fired after she asked for time off to attend a prenatal appointment.
Abusive scheduling practices are also common among workers in low-wage jobs. Workers who get their schedules with only one or two days' notice struggle to cobble together child care, juggle a second job, or make it to the class they're trying to attend so that they can move up into a higher-paying job. Some workers are never assigned any hours on the schedule at all. These workers have to go online after everyone else's schedule has been assigned and try to bid for whatever hours might be left. It's a virtual breadline for hours. Read more »
Did you know that in the last 12 months nearly 60 percent of low-income uninsured women went without needed care because of cost? Or that in 2012 only 46 percent of low-income uninsured women received their recommended mammograms? What if we told you that states could take action to solve this problem today? And the federal government would start out paying for the full cost of this policy, and ultimately cover 90 percent of the bill?
You might be surprised, but this option is immediately available to all states. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states may expand coverage through their Medicaid programs, providing health insurance to millions of low-income Americans. Yet twenty-five states have not done this, leaving over three million women in a coverage gap. This gap results from states’ failure to expand coverage and applies to individuals with incomes below the poverty level (approximately $11,500 for an individual) who do not qualify for traditional Medicaid. Women with income above poverty are eligible for subsidies for private health insurance available through their state Marketplace.
A new report from the National Women’s Law Center illustrates the risk the coverage gap poses to low-income women’s health. More specifically, the report shows that women in the coverage gap also experience a health care gap. In general, low-income women without health insurance are significantly less likely to access basic health care services on a regular basis and are less likely to use important preventive services than women who have similarly low incomes but who are covered by public or private health insurance. Read more »
Forty-one years ago Roe v. Wade made clear that women have a fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. But, today, as some states restrict abortion, many women find themselves unable to exercise this fundamental right. Women of color and low-income women, who have never had equal access to abortion, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Seventy-percent of low income women who obtained an abortion report that they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier. Waiting periods and required ultrasounds force low-income women to take additional time off of work and find child care and transportation. For many women, these can be insurmountable obstacles. One study found that after Texas enacted its waiting period and ultrasound requirements, women had to wait an average of 3.7 days between their initial visit and the abortion. The wait times were primarily caused by scheduling difficulties. Women traveled an average of 84 miles, round-trip and incurred an additional $146 in travel expenses, child care costs and lost wages. Dr. Willie Parker, who has traveled from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi twice a month to work at the state’s sole abortion clinic recently told Salon, “The women who are disproportionately affected by these cumbersome laws are poor women of color . . . There is virtually no financial support because of the Hyde Amendment. Women who are on Medicaid or public assistance cannot use that money for their care.” Read more »
The first BLS jobs report of the new year gives us a chance to look back at 2013 and take stock of how women are faring in the labor force. It turns out December was a wacky month, and not just because of the weather. Job gains were much smaller than expected and yet unemployment rates dropped. Here’s what you need to know:Read more »
D.R. Horton, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board – a case decided this week by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – puts yet another roadblock in the path of employees who try to come together to enforce their rights. In a 2-1 opinion, the Fifth Circuit upheld a construction company’s policy of requiring its employees to sign an agreement to arbitrate all employment disputes and to forgo any opportunity to pursue their claims through a class action. The court’s ruling overturned a National Labor Relations Board order holding that the employer’s policy was invalid because it violated the right of workers to engage in collective activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The majority reasoned that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires the enforcement of arbitration agreements, including this one, even though its enforcement meant trampling employees’ ability to come together to challenge the terms and conditions of their employment under the NLRA. The dissent argued forcefully that the FAA does not require litigants to “forgo the substantive rights afforded by a statute.” The dissent further argued that because the FAA permits invalidation of an arbitration agreement for any “grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of a contract,” this arbitration agreement should be invalidated for violating employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activity” under the NLRA. Read more »
For Walmart workers, this year Black Friday starts on Black Thursday, the day also known as Thanksgiving. Being open on Thanksgiving is actually nothing new for Walmart. What is new is that Black Friday sales will start at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year, meaning many more workers must work through the holiday.
While Walmart hopes to cash in this Black Friday (and Thursday), its workers simply hope to make enough cash to put food on the Thanksgiving table. OUR Walmart has planned 1500 Black Friday protests at Walmart stores across the country to call attention to this irony, and the very difficult working conditions the group says dog Walmart workers.
What will turn your stomach more than grease-filled bites at fast food restaurants? The fact that many of the workers there – about two-thirds of whom are women – aren’t being paid enough to afford the basic necessities of life. Just as upsetting? Low wages from private companies come at a public cost, as employees must depend on government assistance to get by. For many of the companies handing out the small paychecks, there’s little to complain about; they’re still netting huge profits.
A new report released by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows just how dire the situation is for fast food workers around the country. The median pay for “front-line” jobs in the industry is $8.69 an hour, and only an estimated 13 percent of those employees receive health benefits through their employers. Without sufficient income and benefits, workers turn to safety net programs to make ends meet, including those working full time. In the report, researchers examined how many families relied on public programs to estimate the amount of government support required to help fast food workers get by. Read more »
We’re on Day 4 of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years. Here in D.C., the subway and the streets are noticeably emptier without thousands of federal workers on the job. And while a few might be enjoying their time off to take advantage of the shutdown-themed happy hours around town, most are worried about the financial consequences of a prolonged shutdown for themselves and their families (especially since many have already faced pay freezes and furloughs thanks to the sequester and other budget cuts).
But it’s not just the 800,000 furloughed federal workers who are affected by the shutdown. Some federal contractors won’t get paid, either – including workers making close to minimum wage who are unlikely to have much in the way of savings to fall back on. And low-income families who depend on federally funded programs are suffering, too. For example: