Mark Begich Is the Right Choice for Alaska’s Working Families

In the U.S. Senate race in Alaska, there is a stark contrast between Sen. Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan. Which candidate is better for working families? Take a look at this handy chart from Working America and you’ll see it’s Begich.

1. Begich wants to continue growing the Alaska economy and create more good jobs by investing in infrastructure. Begich said, “My top priority is growing Alaska’s economy by creating good jobs right now for Alaskans and investing in critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports and harbors to help create jobs. I secured more than $1 billion to build and fix Alaska’s infrastructure, to create new jobs and expand our economy.”

2. He voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. [S. 2223, Vote 117, 4/30/14]

3. He also voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill to ensure that working women receive equal pay for equal work. [S. 2199, Vote 103, 4/9/14]

4. He has consistently defended the rights of working families and earned a lifetime AFL-CIO voting record of 98% from his tenure in Congress.

5. He has worked to bring jobs back home from overseas and to penalize businesses that outsource America’s jobs. [S. 3816, Vote 242, 9/23/10]

6. While many in Congress have called for cuts to programs like Social Security, Begich supports increasing benefits. “When you tell seniors, ‘We want to make sure your dollars rise as your costs do,’ there is automatic excitement because they recognize we understand what they’re going through….Are we for or against helping seniors have a dignified life in their later years? I’m for that.” [The Washington Post, 3/24/14]

7. As a member of both the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has pushed for increased funding for the Veterans Affairs (VA) and for innovative programs to provide better access to care and to attract more qualified individuals to work in VA health facilities across the nation. “There are few more important responsibilities we have as a nation than to give proper care to those who have sacrificed so much for us. Since day one in the Senate, I have been fighting to make sure Alaska’s veterans—especially those off the road system in rural villages—receive adequate health care. We have made incredible progress. But we are not done and we cannot ignore the devastating and unacceptable situation happening at VA centers in the rest of the country. Alaska’s first‐in‐the‐nation system is working and it should serve as a model for the rest of the country.” [Alaska Business Monthly, 5/29/14]

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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7 Reasons Mark Begich Is a Candidate Who Cares About Working Families

Photo courtesy Bernard Pollack on Flickr

It’s an election year, and we are quickly approaching the time when working families will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for candidates who support policies that protect or expand our rights, raise wages and work for an economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy few. We’re going to focus our spotlight on some of the key candidates who care about working families, and one of those candidates is Mark Begich, who is running for U.S. Senate in Alaska.

1. Begich wants to continue growing the Alaska economy and create more good jobs by investing in infrastructure. Begich said, “My top priority is growing Alaska’s economy by creating good jobs right now for Alaskans and investing in critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports and harbors to help create jobs. I secured more than $1 billion to build and fix Alaska’s infrastructure, to create new jobs and expand our economy.”

2. He voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. [S. 2223, Vote 117, 4/30/14]

3. He also voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill to ensure that working women receive equal pay for equal work. [S. 2199, Vote 103, 4/9/14]

4. He has consistently defended the rights of working families and earned a lifetime AFL-CIO voting record of 98% from his tenure in Congress.

5. He has worked to bring jobs back home from overseas and to penalize businesses that outsource America’s jobs. [S. 3816, Vote 242, 9/23/10]

6. While many in Congress have called for cuts to programs like Social Security, Begich supports increasing benefits. “When you tell seniors, ‘We want to make sure your dollars rise as your costs do,’ there is automatic excitement because they recognize we understand what they’re going through….Are we for or against helping seniors have a dignified life in their later years? I’m for that.” [The Washington Post, 3/24/14]

7. As a member of both the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has pushed for increased funding for the Veterans Affairs (VA) and for innovative programs to provide better access to care and to attract more qualified individuals to work in VA health facilities across the nation. “There are few more important responsibilities we have as a nation than to give proper care to those who have sacrificed so much for us. Since day one in the Senate, I have been fighting to make sure Alaska’s veterans—especially those off the road system in rural villages—receive adequate health care. We have made incredible progress. But we are not done and we cannot ignore the devastating and unacceptable situation happening at VA centers in the rest of the country. Alaska’s first‐in‐the‐nation system is working and it should serve as a model for the rest of the country.” [Alaska Business Monthly, 5/29/14]

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Equal Pay Day: Bridging the Pay Gap Takes 3 Extra Months of Work

Women have to work more than three extra months to earn what men earn in a year because, on average, they make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men’s earnings. Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the day women workers close the 2013 pay gap.

That 23 cents on the dollar pay gap adds up over time—$11,607 a year for women working full-time is more than $440,000 over a lifetime. Bridging the annual difference would make a huge impact on the lives and families of working women.

A new study by the National Partnership for Women and Families finds that if the gap were eliminated, women who work in California could buy 59 more weeks of food. Ohio’s working women could afford nine more months of mortgage and utilities payments. Working women in Georgia could afford 10 more months of rent. And women employed in Florida could afford 1,900-plus more gallons of gas.

National Partnership for Women and Families President Debra L. Ness says the analysis shows:

When women and their families lose thousands of dollars in critical income each year, they have significantly less money to spend on food, gas, rent and other basic necessities, and the consequences for their families and our state and national economies can be devastating.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler said, “The best pay equalizer is union membership, but most workers don’t have that advantage.” That’s why, she said, legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act is needed to help close the pay gap.

That bill, which the Senate could vote on today or Wednesday, would close loopholes and strengthen current equal pay laws, including strengthening penalties that courts may impose for equal pay violations and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage practices. The bill also would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job performance—not gender.

Most Republican members of Congress are opposed to the Paycheck Fairness Act. In 2012, they blocked a vote in the Senate on the legislation. However, in a 2014 nationwide survey, 62% of likely voters said they supported the Paycheck Fairness Act—83% of Democrats, 58% of independents and 44% of Republicans. And the majority of GOP women (51%) support the bill.

Today, President Barack Obama will issue an executive order that will apply some provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act to federal contractors. Read more here.

Click here for the National Partnership for Women and Families study that breaks down the wage gap by state and examines the even bigger wage gap in 20 states African American women and Latina workers face. Nationally, African American and Latina women are paid just 64 cents and just 54 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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9 Key Facts About Women Workers Today

Liz Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

Today, we earn more college degrees and have infinitely more choices, but what has it meant? Take a look:

  • Progress toward gender equality has stalled. Women’s annual earnings are just 77% of men’s.
  • Most (60%) of women’s job gains during the economic recovery have been in low-wage jobs.
  • The unemployment rate for young (ages 16 to 24) women workers is 14.5%.
  • 43% of women working in the private sector are not able to take a single paid sick day when they are ill, and more than half of working mothers (54%) do not have even a few paid sick days they can use to care for their sick children.
  • Women in unions, on average, make 12.9% more than their nonunion counterparts, are 36.8% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and are 53.4% more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

How can we get progress on gender equality moving again? We could start by raising the minimum wage, enacting family-friendly policies like the FAMILY Act, investing in good jobs and restoring collective bargaining rights so all workers can stand together.

Photo by National Nurses United on Facebook

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Despite Gains, Millennial Women See Career Roadblocks Ahead

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that millennial women, who are between 18 and 32 years old, recognize that while women have made gains in the workforce in recent decades, many of the roadblocks that have limited the careers of previous generations of women will cause them problems, too. Women who have entered the workforce in the past decade start off more equal to men in terms of pay than any previous generation and they are more educated than both earlier generations of women and men of the same age group. But they believe that, like earlier generations, they will fall further behind men in terms of pay equity once they have children.

Young female workers (those between 25 and 34) earn 93% of what men earn, compared with the overall workforce in which women earn only 84% of what men make (when wages are controlled for hours worked). Millennial women were more likely than millennial men to have a college degree (38% compared with 31%), so the difference in pay isn’t based on education. Pew Research cites experts who suggest that gender stereotypes, discrimination, professional networks that are more robust for men than for women and hesitancy on the part of women to aggressively negotiate for raises and promotions account for 20% to 40% of the wage gap.

The wage gap between men and women has decreased in recent decades—in 1980, women made only 64% of what men made. Part of the shrinking disparity is an increase in women’s wages, which have risen 25% in the past 30 years. But more recently part of it is because of decreasing wages for men, who have seen their pay decline 4% since 1980.

Other findings of the survey:

  • 75% say the country needs to make changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace (compared with 57% of men).
  • 63% say having children will make it harder for them to advance in their career.
  • 15% say they’ve been discriminated against because of their gender.
  • 34% say they are not interested in becoming a manager (24% of men).
  • 51% say society favors men over women; only 6% say society favors women over men.
  • 42% say they have asked for a raise in their working life (48% of men).

Read the full report.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Bigger Paychecks, Better Benefits for Women Who Carry a Union Card

Unionized women workers continue to have “a substantial boost in pay and benefits” compared to their nonunion counterparts, according to a new issue brief.

The brief by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Women Workers and Unions, finds that:

Unionized women workers, on average, make 12.9 percent more than their nonunion counterparts, are 36.8% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4% more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The study also finds that:

  • Being in or represented by a union compares with completing college in terms of wages, especially when tuition costs are factored in. All else equal, being in a union raises a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does;
  • For a women worker with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would;
  • Women will be a majority of the union workforce in 2023 if current trends continue.

Nicole Woo, co-author of the study, says:

Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers also care about unions.

The CEPR report comes 50 years after the release of American Women: Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.”  On Tuesday, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler will take part in a Labor Department symposium, 50 Years Later: Women, Work and the Work Ahead, commemorating the anniversary.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Moms Are Main Breadwinners in 40% of Homes with Kids

Women are the only or primary breadwinners in 40% of households with children younger than 18 and 63% of those homes are headed by single mothers, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. In 1960, women accounted for just 11% of the main or sole earners in homes with children.

There is a huge wage gap between the single and married mothers, the study found. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by single mothers.

If women received equal pay, both married and single women would be quite a bit better off because women get paid just 77 cents for every $1 men get paid. The picture is even worse for women of color. And the numbers haven’t budged in more than a decade.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84 and H.R. 377) would close loopholes in current equal pay laws that make it easier for employers to discriminate against women by paying them less. The legislation was blocked by a Republican filibuster last year and reintroduced in January. Urge your representatives to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The study does not examine the wage difference between women who hold union jobs and those employed in nonunion workplaces. But in 2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the median weekly paycheck for a woman working in a job with a collective bargaining agreement was $877 vs. $663 for women in nonunion jobs. That union difference cuts across occupations, too.

In addition, unionized workers are 54% more likely to have employer-provided pensions. More than 83% of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 62% of nonunion workers do.

Read the full Pew Research study, and learn more about what the study means in this PBS interview with Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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