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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.

UFCW Joins Immigrant Rights Groups at the Supreme Court to Demand Justice for Immigrant Workers

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In the midst of an ongoing legal battle that has suspended President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the UFCW joined labor leaders and immigrant families as they gathered at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to demand the implementation of the president’s immigration programs. The deferred action programs, known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), would have provided immigration relief for over five million aspiring Americans. Unfortunately, the implementation of this program has been held up in the courts by an anti-immigrant lawsuit that has made its way to the Supreme Court.

Under strong pressure from the UFCW, the Obama Administration gave hard-working men and women the ability to apply for legal work status and some piece of mind. While these programs are temporary and not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, the UFCW knows that they are necessary and long overdue for our members.

Yesterday’s rally at the Supreme Court sent a strong message that the UFCW will continue pushing forward with our efforts to build worker power for immigrants and ensure that when the legal ruling on DAPA and expanded DACA are rendered, UFCW members are first in line when the application process begins.

Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 Lobby for Health Care Workers in Albany

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UFCW Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 brought more than 60 members to the Health Care Lobby Day in Albany, including home health aides, certified nursing assistants, medication technicians, dietary workers, and housekeepers from a variety of health care facilities.

They met with legislators and staff from 23 Assembly and Senate districts, including the New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Many of our members rely on the state to fund their contract increases,” said Local 2013 President Mark Carotenuto. “That’s why it’s so important that legislators hear from our members directly.”

Una Brown, a Local 2013 member and Executive Board vice president, works as a home health aide at Americare. “I love my work, but the pay is not enough,” Brown said. “Many of my coworkers have to sign up with two or three agencies to make a living.”

In New York City, one out of every seven low wage workers are employed as a home care aide. The hourly mean wage for home health aides is approximately $10.75 per hour, or $22,360 a year, in the state.

Home health aides would see a $5,000 per year raise if hourly wages are increased to $15 per hour.

Raising wages would reduce employee turnover and lower dependence on public assistance. According to a State Senate report, 56 percent of direct care workers in New York State receive some sort of public assistance.

Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 have been strong backers of the Fight for $15 in New York State for years, participating in lobby meetings, rallies, and marching in the streets with other local unions and community groups.

But since health care reimbursements are set by the state, Carotenuto said, increases in minimum wage have to be matched with increases in Medicaid and other state programs. “The legislature needs to step up and fund an appropriate budget,” he said.

They are hopeful that their visit to the Capitol in Albany will make a difference with legislators who may be on the fence and are committed to lobbying again later this year.