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Local 135 Helps Pass Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave Law in San Diego

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On June 8, San Diego passed legislation that will immediately increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and then to $11.50 an hour in January. This bill also provides five days of annual paid sick leave. Members of UFCW Local 135 played an important role in the fight for this legislation, which will help hard-working men, women and their families in the San Diego area and improve public health.

This legislation immediately gives a boost to 170,000 workers in the city of San Diego, where many minimum wage employees work two or more jobs to make ends meet.

This new minimum wage increase was a long time coming. Back in 2014, the San Diego City Council voted in favor of raising the minimum wage. However, shortly thereafter, the mayor vetoed it, the city council overrode it and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce stepped in with petitions for a ballot initiative, which halted raises for the working poor for more than two years.

UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian spoke before the San Diego City Council in favor of raising the minimum wage, and UFCW Local 135 staff phone banked and knocked on doors to get the ballot initiative passed. This victory is the result of an effort, by a diverse coalition led by RaiseUp San Diego, to ensure that no one who works full-time in San Diego is forced to live in poverty.

“The historic passage of an increase in minimum wage and earned sick days for San Diego workers signals a clear turning of the tide in San Diego,” said UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian. “In the end, a million dollar campaign from out-of-town hotel and restaurant lobbyists and a veto from Mayor Faulconer could not stop San Diegans from voting their conscience. Hopefully, this will alleviate the struggles for workers who make tough decisions like whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.”

As the Equal Pay Act Turns 53, More Needs to Be Done to Address the Gender Pay Gap

fb-2058-teal-textOn June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. “This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations not associated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place,” President Kennedy said.

It’s been 53 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed and women are still waiting for the law to live up to its name. In the U.S., women are paid approximately 79 percent of what men are paid, and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger. According a recent report by the American Association of University Women, Hispanic and Latina women earned just 54 percent of what white men earned. African American women earned 63 percent and American Indian and Alaska Native women earned 59 percent. At its current rate of change, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059. Until that happens, a woman working a full-time, year-round job will earn $10,800 less per year than a man in the exact same role—adding up to nearly a half million dollars over a career.

Although President Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 makes it easier for women to take legal action against employers for pay discrimination, the Paycheck Fairness Bill, which require employers to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender, has been stalled in Senate and House committees since last year.

Fortunately, there is a way for women to find a level playing field that doesn’t require an act of Congress – a union contract.

A union contract offers a way to give women both equal pay and an equal say in their workplace. Union membership boosts wages for all workers—but women experience especially large advantages. The wage gap among union members is less than half the size of the wage gap among nonunion workers, and female union members typically earn over $230 more per week than women who are not represented by unions—a larger wage premium than men receive.

We’re proud that UFCW members all across America are covered by negotiated contracts that guarantee hard-working women are provided with the equal pay that they have earned and deserve.

 

New Report Highlights Uneven Access to Paid Leave and Predictable Schedules

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Image via Center for American Progress

A new report by the Center for American Progress underscores the uneven access to paid leave and fair schedules in the American workforce and the need for legislation to address these issues.

Titled Who Gets Time Off? Predicting Access to Paid Leave and Workplace Flexibility, the report examines the schism between workers in higher paid jobs, who are more likely to have benefits such as paid leave and workplace flexibility, to lower- and middle-income workers, who are less likely to have access to these benefits. According to the report, nearly 40 million workers, or 39 percent of the workforce, still lack access to even a single paid sick day. In particular, hourly workers, workers with jobs in the service industry, and Latino workers are less likely to have access to paid sick days and other workplace benefits. Conversely, older workers, full-time workers, and workers with higher earnings are more likely to have access to employer provided paid sick days, workplace flexibility and predictable schedules.

More needs to be done to address the huge swath of American workers who are at the mercy of their employers and at risk of losing wages or being fired if they need time off to recover from an illness or care for a family member. While legislation has been introduced to address access to paid leave and workplace flexibility, it is still too slow and uneven to affect the majority of working families. Since 2002, only three states have passed laws to provide workers with access to paid family leave; 23 cities and five states have guaranteed workers the right to earned sick leave; and one city and one state have implemented policies to ensure that workers have access to fair schedules.

A full copy of the report can be found here.