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Women and Work

Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history,
she learns she is worth less.

– Myra Pollack Sadker

History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.

About Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981, when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week." Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women’s History Week." After being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which designated March 1987 as “Women’s History Month." Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions authorizing and requesting the president to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” 

From the Law Library of Congress's guide to the legislative history of Women's History Month.
 March-14-2014  FYI: This article was provided by the Feminist Majority, 
Obama Aims To Reform Overtime Pay Regulations
President Barack Obama announced in a statement yesterday that he would be directing Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor, to improve overtime pay labor regulations as part of his "year of action." It is expected that the salary threshold for overtime pay will be raised, among other changes.

"If you go above and beyond to help your employer and your economy succeed, then you should share a little bit in that success," Obama said in his remarks yesterday.

Under the current rules, any worker making more than $455 per week or $23,660 per year is not eligible for overtime pay, a threshold that has not been significantly changed since 1975. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that if the threshold is raised to $970 per week or $50,440 per year - what the threshold would be if it had been adjusted for inflation - around 10 million workers would receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week.

In addition, any workers classified as executive, administrative, or professional under the "white-collar exemption" can currently be denied overtime pay, usually time-and-a-half, if they work more than 40 hours per week. An executive title can be applied to someone even if they oversee people for only a small percentage of their job, such as fast-food shift supervisors or convenience store managers.

The changes could significantly improve the economy and boost income for 10 million Americans, especially lower-income people. ThinkProgress also reports that it has the potential to reduce the standard workweek. Many Americans work 50 hours or more a week without overtime, so businesses may cap their hours or hire more people rather than pay them more.

The Obama administration has focused on labor protections and improvements in the past few months. Last September, the DOL expanded labor protections for home care workers. In February, Obama issued an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, and he is pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all Americans. The White House also released charts yesterday detailing women's participation in the workforce and ways to reduce the gender wage gap.

"We need to fix the system so folks working hard are getting compensated fairly," said Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Media Resources: The White House 3/12/14; ThinkProgress 3/12/14; The New York Times 3/11/14; The Washington Post 3/12/14; Bloomberg 3/12/14; The Economic Policy Institute 3/12/14; Feminist Newswire 9/18/13, 1/29/14, 2/14/14
Women’s Job Growth Halts in January
Men Have Regained 81 Percent of Jobs Lost in the Recession
Washington, DC—According to an Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the February employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women lost 51,000 jobs on nonfarm payrolls in January, while men gained 164,000 for a net increase of 113,000 jobs. As of January, women have more than recovered all their jobs lost in the recession, while men have regained 81 percent (4.9 million) of the jobs they lost.
In January, women’s employment growth was weakest in Government (30,000 jobs lost by women) and Professional and Business Services (14,000 jobs lost by women). In what had been a growing sector for women, Education and Health Services saw women’s job losses for a second consecutive month (3,000 jobs lost for women in January and 2,000 in December). “Women’s job growth over the last 18 months had buoyed the slow, but steady, growth of the economy,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Men’s job gains in January are an encouraging sign of a recovering economy, but both men and women need to see stronger job growth in order to get family incomes growing again.”
The February employment report includes annual benchmarking revisions to the payroll data back to January 2009. According to these latest estimates, women held more than halfof the jobs on payrolls for a ten month period, from the official end of the recession in June 2009 through March 2010. In the last year, from January 2013 to January 2014, of the 2.2 million jobs added to payrolls, 46 percent were filled by women (1,038,000 jobs), and 54 percent were filled by men (1,200,000 jobs).
Among single mothers, the unemployment rate increased from 8.7 percent in December to 9.1 percent in January, indicating continued difficulty for these women in finding jobs. There has been no improvement over the past year in the average number of weeks spent unemployed and looking for work, which was 35.4 weeks in both January 2013 and January 2014.

2/5/2014 - Family Medical Leave Act Turns 21 Today

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which mandates that certain employees receive job-protected unpaid leave to care for themselves, an immediate family member, a newborn, or a newly adopted child. Some 100 million U.S. workers have enjoyed time off because of the FMLA, and most employers have reported no negative impact on business profitability or productivity because of the law.
However, too many people have been unable to enjoy FMLA's benefits. Most worksites are not covered by the FMLA. The law applies only to public agencies and private sector employers with 50 or more employees. And many workers are not covered by the law. It covers only employees who have worked for the same employer for at least one year and who worked 1,250 hours the previous year. A 2012 study of the impact of the FMLA found that around 40 percent of the workforce is not eligible for guaranteed unpaid leave. Even if someone is eligible for FMLA leave, it may not be affordable. Nearly 50 percent of workers with an unmet need for leave explain that they cannot afford to take time off.
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), introduced in December 2013 by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would significantly improve workers' ability to take leave by allowing workers to take paid time off to address a serious illness of their own or to care for a family member, new baby or adopted child. Employees would be able to earn up to 12 weeks of paid family leave each year through the creation of a national insurance fund. Both employers and employees would contribute to the fund, which would be administered through a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave within the Social Security Administration. All workers who are eligible for Social Security disability benefits would be covered by the law.
TAKE ACTION: Tell your representatives that no one should have to risk financial insecurity to care for a loved one.

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