MomsRising & State Legislators Team Up to Shine A Light On The High Cost Of Low Wages & Benefits For Families

On Monday, as part of the kick-off activities for the National Week of Action for Real Prosperity Across America, 12 state legislators participated in a Blog Carnival sponsored by State legislators from across the country blogged about economic security issues important to America's working families, including paid family leave, earned sick days, equal pay for women, and the minimum wage. Find out more about what these state leaders are saying in the excerpts below.

Ann Pratt & Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Our country’s greatness was built on valuing America’s working families. At MomsRising and Progressive States Network, we believe that in America, more families should be joining a thriving middle class than falling out of it — powering the engine of America’s economic growth and national prosperity in the process.

But our workplace standards are woefully out of date, and women and their families bear the brunt of it.  Women’s wages in the U.S. are stuck at 77 cents to a man’s dollar for full-time year round work, with mothers and women of color experiencing a gap that’s larger still. The U.S. lags behind more than 150 other nations on paid family leave and earned sick days policies, both of which are critical to the economic security of women and their families, as well as critical to the health of our national economy.  And when it comes to minimum wage, women and mothers take the hardest hits there too: Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers in industries such as waitstaff, retail, childcare workers, and home health care aides. And, nearly four in ten women minimum wage workers are women of color. And the federal minimum wage is currently stuck at only $7.25/hour. If a worker is allowed to work full time, that still only comes out to $15,080 per year–leaving a family of four well under the federal poverty line. That’s not the American dream.

Ann Pratt is the Executive Director of Progressive States and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is the Executive Director/CEO and Co-Founder of MomsRising.


Arizona State Senator Katie Hobbs:

“On average, women make 82 cents for every $1 a man makes in Arizona. Latino women, a growing demographic in Arizona that is a major part of our future workforce and household breadwinners, only make about HALF of what a white male makes in Arizona. Eliminating these pay inequities is essential to ensuring that women can be independent and care for their families.”

State Senator Katie Hobbs represents the 24th Senate District in the Arizona Legislature. A professional social worker and a leading advocate for domestic violence prevention. Sen. Hobbs has also served on the Phoenix Women's Commission and worked for the Sojourner Center, the largest domestic violence shelter in the United States. To read her full blog post, click here.


Connecticut State Senator Gary Holder-Winfield:

            “In part to demonstrate why we fought so hard for this wage raise for the people of Connecticut, I began my own Minimum Wage Grocery Challenge on the eve of the final vote in the state legislature. With the National Week of Action set to begin in the coming days, it was also an opportunity for me to bring more visibility to a priority I believe is key to a “Real Prosperity Across America”: ensuring that all Americans who work for a living can make a living from their work.”

           Previously the Deputy Majority Leader of the Connecticut Assembly, Gary Holder-Winfield now represents the 10th District in the State Senate. He currently chairs the Labor Committee and the Internship Committee and serves on the Judiciary Committee and Public Health Committee. To read his full blog post, click here.


Georgia State Senator Nan Orrock:

“Parents should not have to choose between sending a sick child to school or taking time off and missing a bill payment or a rent check. Teachers should not be part educator and part caretaker.  By slashing education budgets and refusing to improve economic conditions for parents, our children and the future of Georgia suffers.”

State Senator Nan Orrock represents the 36th District (Atlanta and Fulton City) in the Georgia Senate, where she has served since 2006 after ten terms in the Georgia House of Representatives. She is also the President of WiLL, the Women Legislators' Lobby. To read her full blog post, click here


Massachusetts State Representative Kay Khan:

“The working women and men who keep our state’s businesses running are among our greatest assets. Without earned paid sick time, many of them are forced to go to work sick resulting in the risk of spreading infectious illnesses to coworkers. If they work in a setting like a restaurant or a retail store, the broader public’s health is threatened as well. A similar concern holds true for their children. If mothers and fathers cannot stay home to tend to a sick child, the student is often sent to school anyway, spreading the illness.”

State Rep. Kay Khan has represented the people of Newton since 1995 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She is also the founder and co-chair of the legislative Mental Health Caucus. To read her full blog post, click here


Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib:

“Michigan needs to raise the minimum wage.  Not just because it’s the right thing to do for the minimum wage workers in this state.  It is important for everyone in the states and is the single most important thing that could be done to help our state recover from the worst economic recession in a decade.  People don’t have money to spend on the basics like groceries and gas.  This sets off a ripple effect, causing harm to many people, businesses and industries beyond low wage earners themselves.”

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib represents the 6th District (Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge) in the Michigan House of Representatives. The eldest of 14 siblings and the child of immigrants, Rep. Tlaib is the first woman Muslim American elected to the Michigan Legislature. To read her full blog post, click here


North Carolina State Representative Susan Fisher

“More jobs are created when workers have more money in their pockets that they can spend at local businesses. The same cannot be said for the money that currently goes to mega-corporations who pay poverty wages. Those profits leave North Carolina, destined for off-shore bank accounts and Wall Street. We should be keeping that money in North Carolina, investing it in our workers who will put it right back into our economy.”

State Rep. Susan Fisher represents the 114th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives. She also serves as a leading voice in the League of Women Voters of Asheville/Buncombe County and the North Carolina Council for Women. To read her full blog post, click here


North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern

“I strongly believe that parents shouldn’t have to choose between meeting their babies’ physical needs of food and shelter at the expense of meeting its emotional needs of bonding with its parents and learning that it is loved and safe. But it is not enough to believe.  We all must act on our beliefs.  That is why I intend to create a new tax credit for North Dakota businesses that offer paid parental leave to their employees.”

State Senator Tim Mathern represents District 11 (Fargo) in the North Dakota Senate, where he has served since 1986. Sen. Mathern is currently the Public Policy and Non-Profit Development Director of Prairie St. John's. To read his full blog post, click here

Pennsylvania State Representative Erin Molchany

“It is time to address pay inequity.  We must guide all sectors toward pay fairness for all workers and provide the tools necessary for woman to earn what they deserve. My fellow state legislators across the country need to move forward with proposals that update equal pay laws.  In 2014, it is our obligation to make it harder for companies to pay women less.”

State Rep. Erin Molchany represents the 22nd District (Pittsburgh) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Prior to her service as a state legislator, she was the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, which worked to attract and retain young and talented people to Pittsburgh.  To read her full blog post, click  here.


Rhode Island State Senator Gayle Goldin

“I’m proud to say [Rhode Island’s new Paid Family Leave] law has already helped nearly 900 families, including the married couple I met last week.  Melinda just had a baby, and when she returned to work, her husband took his four weeks off to stay home with their new little one.  That’s the best baby gift of all.”

State Senator Gayle Goldin represents District 3 (Providence) in the Rhode Island Senate. Outside the legislature, Sen. Goldin serves as the Strategic Initiatives Officer for the Women's Fund of Rhode Island.To read her full blog post, click here.


Maryland State Delegate Tom Hucker

“Maryland is poised to raise the minimum wage.  Not enough, and we didn’t get the wage tied to the inflation index, but it’s a strong step in the right direction… and a place to start next year.  We have also passed legislation, authored by my good friend Delegate Ariana Kelly, to ensure workers a minimum of 6 weeks unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child.  In my view it’s unconscionable that employees – especially women – have legitimately feared for their jobs when taking parental leave.  I’m a father, and I know how important those early weeks and months with your child are.  Six weeks isn’t enough, and ideally we’d guarantee paid parental leave, but this is a beginning.”

Delegate Tom Hucker is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 20, which includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring. To read his full blog post, click here.


Nebraska State Senator Tanya Cook

“We live in a world where women are often the primary bread-winners in their homes.  Most two-parent households are also two-income households, so wage discrimination impacts nearly every working person. Equal compensation for women is crucial for the support of our children, too many of whom live in poverty. If the wage gap is finally closed, the poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half.”

State Senator Tanya Cook represents Nebraska's 11th District and was the first black woman elected to the Nebraska State Legislature. Prior to becoming a State Senator, she served as the Director of Urban Affairs for Governor Mike Johanns.To read her full blog post, click here