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OP-ED | CT Is Leading The Way On Economic Security for Working Women

by Lori Pelletier | May 27, 2014 10:48am
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, Opinion

CTNJ file photo

Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO

This year, as elections loom and a national debate rages over the minimum wage and policies to make work more family-friendly, Connecticut is leading the charge in pursuing policies to strengthen protections for workers and their families.

We were the first state in the nation to pass paid sick days legislation, allowing women and men to take time away from work to care for their families without fear of reprisal. This spring, we raised our minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the highest in the nation. Yet working women still face an uphill battle in the workplace. We are seeing more and more jobs moving offshore and being replaced with lower-paid jobs without benefits. Making our economy work for workers and their families must remain the focus if we want to preserve the gains women have made in the workplace this year and continue to lead.

Recently, I testified in Congress about the importance of closing the wage gap, ensuring better access to critical benefits and expanding opportunities for all women. As a woman in the labor movement, I know organized labor represents the largest working women’s organization in the country. While our members are not the main beneficiaries of many of these proposals, we understand everybody does better when everybody does better.

The Connecticut labor movement has strongly supported and fought for these changes because we understand these measures are two critical steps towards ensuring women’s economic security. Women are over-represented in low-wage occupations. Almost a quarter of Connecticut workers will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, and more than half of the workers who benefit are women.

We must take steps to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, bartenders, and hairstylists, which has not been raised since 1991. Almost three quarters of tipped workers are women. They are paid 40 percent less, on average, than other workers, and they are twice as likely as other workers to be poor.

We must ensure Connecticut workers can afford to take FMLA leave when their children or family members are sick. Our state and federal agencies must have the resources they need to enforce labor safety standards. Employers in Connecticut know the chances of an OSHA audit are very low, and an inspection by a state DOL wage and hour investigator is not likely to happen. As a result, those women and men working in dangerous workplaces have little to no recourse.

Most importantly, we must ensure we have strong advocates for workers and their families in Congress, the state legislature, and the Governor’s office who will champion reforms increasing the economic security of Connecticut’s women—not stripping Connecticut women of critical protections.

This fall, women need to reclaim the debate. We must make this a conversation about what really matters to our families: our paychecks, our retirement security and our health. We need to invest in our communities so our children get the care they need to thrive. Most importantly, we need to vote for leaders who will continue “the Connecticut legacy” of progress, and not turn back the clock.

Lori Pelletier is the executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO in Connecticut.

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(9) Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | May 27, 2014  8:45pm

shinningstars122

Great piece Ms. Pelletier. Hopefully it will help in opening the eyes of many in this state that do not understand the burden put on women and their children as they battle to get out of poverty.

A living wages and full benefits is not an entitlement or a burden on corporate America… it is a historically proven method of self determination and economic independence as well as the foundation of the middle class.

posted by: justsayin | May 28, 2014  8:22am

I do not know what concerns me more, that she wrote it or that other people also believe this type of thinking. Dangerous stuff.

posted by: shinningstars122 | May 28, 2014  7:59pm

shinningstars122

@justsayin yeah “dangerous” stuff being paid a living wage so… gasp! Women might have a decent quality of life.

Hey buddy this quote is for you.

“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!”
― Maya Angelou

posted by: shinningstars122 | May 28, 2014  8:53pm

shinningstars122

@justsayin “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.”
― Maya Angelou

posted by: justsayin | May 29, 2014  4:38am

@shinningstars122, Her words offer promise…But the work still needs to be done. Mrs. Pelletier offers blame and baseless accusations. The govt state or fed should not be in the business of private business. See the article in CT news about PT work and it being mostly choice and reasonably it pays less. Where did OSHA come into the equation? Those statements could be liable if directed at some business in particular, they are not. Just thrown into the wind for what ever reason. She is a union talking head plugging for the union. Nothing good will come of her ideas to those she supposes to help. She only offers false promise.

posted by: ocoandasoc | May 29, 2014  11:03am

The labor unions “legacy of progress” helped make Connecticut the only State in the country last year with ZERO economic growth and is largely responsible for the outflow of jobs to other States and offshore. The women who held these jobs have been forced to move or take other employment – often at lower wages and with less benefits.  I’m sure they find Ms. Pelletier’s election year rhetoric less than encouraging.

posted by: RogueReporterCT | May 29, 2014  8:21pm

RogueReporterCT

In the credit where credit is due department, this administration has had a truly progressive record on social issues in general and Women’s issues in particular. It is tragic that Malloy is committing political suicide by refusing to change his stance on education reform.

posted by: shinningstars122 | May 30, 2014  5:23am

shinningstars122

@justsayin you are really digging yourself into a hole now.

You ignorance of and hostility toward organized labor and government over site is duly noted.

Maybe you father or grandfather was a union member working at Pratt & Whitney or some other large employer during the 1950’ and 1960"s.

Union represenatation offered workers the right and ability to actively participate in their possible outcomes with their employers.

It was a shared fate mentality in its most positive sense.

Working 40 hours a week,  getting vacation and sick time and most importantly being paid OT all are a result of unions fighting for America workers.

You take that for granted clearly.

I assume you are male and white too?

Its no wonder you have no sympathies toward working women believing what you do.

Government’s role is to balance the excesses of what corporate America inherently always does first… cut corners.

If you do not believe there are never any issues you are clearly foolish.

This balance has flourished into all areas of of lives that have made working conditions safer and companies more accountable when they violate the law.

Simply believing that you all alone can get the best deal from a employer is naive at best.

posted by: justsayin | May 30, 2014  7:12am

@shinningstars122, I have no bias, I have a belief that the actions of “labor” have both helped, back in the 50’s and 60’s but now are political engines that hurt growth and support entitlement to for their own gain. What was the OSHA comment for, that does not fit the article, again misdirection. My dad was anti-union and worked hard to stay out of them. I was raised to believe you get what you work for. Why the hate speech, if I was white and male is that bad? I did not attack your race/gender why would you bring that into this, more misdirection. I have a different opinion and point of view, why is that bad? You are the one in the hole and the dark.