Campaign Updates

2017 Strong California Legislative Agenda Launch!

Join us on Tuesday, April 4 for the launch of the 2017 Stronger California legislative agenda! We’ll be gathering for a rally and lunch, followed by legislative visits.

Please RSVP here. 

We’ll also be holding a legislative advocacy training webinar on Monday, April 3 in advance of the launch. Please RSVP here to receive the webinar link. If you cannot participate in the webinar, we will have a training refresher during lunch on April 4 as well.

Celebrating Policy Wins for Women & Families

January 24, 2017

On January 12, 2017, the Stronger California Advocates Network, a collaboration of over thirty organizations and advocate coalitions from around the state working in partnership with the Legislative Women’s Caucus to promote policy reforms that improve the economic strength of women and families, kicked off the new legislative cycle with a Policy Convening and Reception in Sacramento.

Advocates from around the state came together with legislators and staff to discuss policy priorities for the coming year to combat poverty and promote asset building, expand access to child care and early childhood education, ensure fair pay and job opportunities and support working families.

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We also celebrated incredible past wins from the Stronger California Legislative Agenda, including: passage of the strongest equal pay law in the country; repeal of the regressive and harmful Maximum Family Grant rule; an increase to the minimum wage critical to keep hard-working people out of poverty; passage of the domestic worker bill of rights, which made permanent the right to overtime pay for domestic workers; increased Paid Family Leave benefit wage replacement rates to better support workers taking leave to care for a new child or sick relative; and, increased funding for child care in the budget.

Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Noreen Farrell, who chairs the Stronger CA Advocates Network, opened the reception with remarks putting the Stronger CA agenda in the context of the federal election. Now more than ever, we need to push progressive reform in California, which is home to 12% of the country’s women.

Among the speakers at the reception, we were honored to have Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, outgoing Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, and Lupita Cortez Alcala, Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women, all of whom are tireless champions of women’s rights.

We also recognized Kate Karpilow for her tremendous contributions to women and families in California and celebrated the Stronger California Legislative Champions who made our legislative and budget wins possible.

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2017 Policy Convening and Reception

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Equal Pay Bill Signed by Gov. Brown

September 30, 2016

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1676, which prohibits employers from relying on prior salary alone to justify any pay difference between male and female employees who do substantially similar work. This bill marks an important step toward closing the gender wage gap.

“We applaud Governor Brown for once again recognizing the importance of closing the gender wage gap, which costs California women billions each year,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates and Chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network. “With Assembly Bill 1676, we move one step closer to leveling the playing field for women who have faced prior wage discrimination. But we also know that there is still more work to be done to address the many contributors to the wage gap, and we will continue to fight for legislation that addresses this critical issue.”

Assembly Bill 1676 was a priority bill on the Stronger California 2016 Legislative Agenda.

New Law Expands Opportunities for Women in the Trades

September 28, 2016

Today, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2288, which will require pre-apprenticeship programs in the building and construction trades funded by the federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to develop a plan for outreach, recruitment, and retention of women. This bill was a priority of the Stronger California 2016 Legislative Agenda, which seeks to ensure women’s economic security across the state.

“Pre-apprenticeship programs are a critical pathway to careers in the higher-paid, traditionally male-dominated skilled trades, and increasing women’s participation in these programs will help close the gender wage gap in California, which is particularly egregious for women of color,” said Jessica Stender, Senior Staff Attorney at Equal Rights Advocates and Co-Chair of the Policy Committee of the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen Issues. “Women currently make up just 2.2% of construction apprentices across the state. We applaud Governor Brown for signing Assembly Bill 2288, which will open the doors for more women to enter these fields, and we will work to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of this important new law.”

Win! Dignity for Domestic Workers

September 13, 2016

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1015 (Leyva), the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and in so doing, guaranteed permanent overtime protections to over 300,000 domestic workers in California.

Domestic workers play a pivotal role in the homes and lives of many in California. Yet they have long been excluded from basic employment protections. Although domestic workers were finally granted the right to overtime pay when Assembly Bill 241 was signed into law in 2013, those protections were set to expire in 2017 pursuant to a sunset provision in that bill. The signing of SB 1015 ensures that domestic workers continue receiving overtime protections and the dignity and respect they deserve.

“The Stronger California Advocates Network is so proud of our partner the California Domestic Workers Coalition for leading passage of SB 1015 and the movement to guarantee dignity for domestic workers,” said Noreen Farrell, chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network and Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates. “With the signing of the 2016 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, California takes an important step toward ensuring dignity and economic security for domestic workers and their families.”

This victory represents the culmination of years of organizing by domestic workers and supporters throughout California and would not have been possible without the leadership and large-scale mobilization efforts of the California Domestic Workers Coalition and Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), both members of the Stronger California Advocates Network.

SB 1015 was a priority bill on the 2016 Legislative Agenda of the Stronger California Advocates Network, a historic collaboration of over 30 advocate coalitions from around the state that promotes policy reform to improve the economic strength of women and families and increase the fairness and quality of their lives.

Petition: Ask Gov. Brown to Sign Stronger California Bills

August 23, 2016

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, which marks the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It is a day to recognize and lift up women’s political and economic power and an opportunity for Governor Brown to demonstrate his continuing commitment to women and families throughout California.

That is why we are asking him to show his support for women’s equality and economic security this Women’s Equality Day by pledging to sign into law bills from the Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Agenda.

Sign here to support the Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Agenda.

On to the Governor: Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Passes Assembly

August 18, 2016

Today, the 2016 Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (SB 1015) passed an Assembly floor vote and heads to Governor Brown’s desk, marking an important step forward in the fight for domestic workers’ dignity.

There are over 300,000 domestic workers in California. These nannies, house cleaners, and caregivers are primarily immigrant women who work in private households in order to provide for their own families as the primary income earner. They are essential to California’s economy, yet they are among the most isolated, underpaid, and vulnerable workers in the state and historically have been exempted or excluded from basic labor protections afforded to other workers.

While the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights first became law in California in 2013, it will expire on January 1, 2017 without action. This critical law ensures that the state’s domestic workers have access to overtime pay.

“The Stronger California Advocates Network is proud of the California Domestic Workers Coalition’s leadership to ensure passage of SB 1015, and to be part of the movement to guarantee dignity for domestic workers,” said Noreen Farrell, chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network and Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates. “It is imperative that Governor Brown sign SB 1015 into law – 300,000 domestic workers and their families depend on these basic worker protections.”

The 2016 Domestic Worker Bill of Rights is a lead bill in the Fair Pay and Job Opportunities pillar of the Stronger California Legislative Agenda, a comprehensive platform of policy initiatives to improve the economic security of women and families in the state.

The legislation will now head to the Governor’s desk. Californians, tell Gov. Brown that you support SB 1015 today.

August 3: Children’s March, Rally and Lobby Day in Sacramento with the California Domestic Workers Coalition

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Join the California Domestic Workers Coalition for a Children’s March and Rally in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights on Wednesday, August 3rd. More information and RSVP here. 

CA Legislature Steps Up for Women and Families in Budget

June 16, 2016

Today, the California legislature voted to approve a state budget that includes two important policy reforms for working women and families. The repeal of the Maximum Family Grant rule, which requires mothers to produce evidence of rape or birth control failure in order to receive state aid for their children, and increased funding for child care workers who serve low-income families. These two budget asks are priorities of the Stronger California women’s economic security agenda.

“We cheer the legislature for recognizing and addressing the needs of women and families in the state budget it forwarded to the Governor for signature today. The budget proposal repeals the maximum family grant rule depriving income support for kids in poverty and also increases reimbursement rates for child care providers. Both budget components are critical to the economic stability of working families across the state. We call on Governor Brown to sign these much-needed reforms into law,” said Noreen Farrell, chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network and executive director of Equal Rights Advocates.

CA Budget Deal Includes Investments in Women and Families

June 10, 2016

An agreement on the California budget struck late Thursday between Governor Jerry Brown and the State Legislature includes two important developments for working women. The repeal of the maximum family grant rule, which requires mothers to produce evidence of rape or birth control failure in order to receive state aid for their children, and increased funding for child care workers who serve low-income families. These two budget asks are priorities in the Stronger California women’s economic security agenda.

“We are tremendously relieved and excited that the budget deal reached yesterday will end the maximum family grant rule, giving poor women and children improved access to the assistance they need to live. We also enthusiastically support the budget deal’s commitment to increasing reimbursement rates for child care providers, who often earn poverty-level wages while caring for the children of working families. We call on California legislators to approve the proposed budget next week, and for Governor Brown to sign these much-needed reforms into law,” said Noreen Farrell, chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network and executive director of Equal Rights Advocates.

CA Assembly Passes Two Key Bills for Women and Families

June 3, 2016

Yesterday, the California Assembly passed two priority bills of the Stronger California campaign for women’s economic security.

The Assembly unanimously passed Assembly Bill 2150, which would guarantee a minimum of 12-months of continuous child care without punitive interim reporting requirements that shut poor parents out of child care subsidy programs. This bill is an important part of the Stronger California Legislative Agenda because access to quality, affordable child care is central to the economic security of working women and families.

“We applaud the California Assembly for its commitment to ensuring access to affordable child care without the unnecessary interruptions of continuous reporting requirements. The current requirement to show 12 months’ worth of eligibility means that a working mother or father must spend an undue amount of time and energy to stay up-to-date with their forms in order to ensure they can access affordable child care for their children. AB 2150 would lessen the burden on working families and provide peace of mind for themselves, their kids, their child care providers, and their employers,” said Mary Ignatius, statewide organizer  for Parent Voices and lead of the Stronger California child care pillar.

The Assembly also passed Assembly Bill 1676, a proposed new law that would outlaw the reliance on prior salaries in salary negotiations, a practice that perpetuates pay discrimination and contributes to the gender wage gap.

Said Mariko Yoshihara, political director of California Employment Lawyers Association and lead of the Stronger California fair pay and job opportunities pillar:

“With yesterday’s vote on Assembly Bill 1676, we are one step closer to helping level the playing field for women who have been underpaid in prior jobs or who have taken some time out of the job market and are trying to negotiate a fair wage. We need to start heeding the advice of our courts and top government officials that continue to warn that relying on prior salaries perpetuates unfair wage disparities in the job market, particularly for women and people of color.”

Learn more about the Stronger California campaign’s 2016 legislative agenda. 

California Senate Passes Job-Protected Leave

June 1, 2016

Today, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 1166, a proposed new law that will give more workers job-protected leave when they take parental leave to bond with a new child, which will make state paid family leave benefits accessible to thousands more workers across the state. This legislation is a priority bill of the Stronger California 2016 Legislative Agenda, which seeks to ensure women’s economic security in our state.

Said Jenya Cassidy, director of the California Work & Family Coalition and lead of the Stronger California family-friendly workplaces pillar:

“The California Senate took an important step today in passing Senate Bill 1166, which would extend job protection to more new parents taking leave to bond with a new child and allow more workers to access the state’s paid family leave program. Without job protection, too many parents are forced to choose between their jobs and the health and well-being of their children. This is important to women, who are often the primary caregivers and breadwinners.”

Contact your assemblymember today to show your support for job-protected leave. 

May 23 Lobby Day

Join us on May 23rd in Sacramento for a lobby day on key Stronger CA bills. More information available here.

Women and Families Left Out of Budget Revise

May 19, 2016

The California state budget impacts more policy decisions in this state than many Californians realize. The Stronger California Advocates Network, which is promoting an agenda to ensure women’s economic security, believes that the budget’s allocation of our tax dollars must reflect the priorities of California’s communities. As part of the Stronger California agenda we have joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to work to increase access to child care and income assistance for California’s families who are most in need.

On May 13, California Governor Jerry Brown released his revised state budget. It does not adequately address the needs of poor families who are being punished by a reduced child care subsidy budget and the continued existence of a rule denying income assistance to women who have babies while receiving state support. Fortunately, time remains to influence the Governor’s final budget, as well as to advance legislation accomplishing related policy initiatives.

“The California state budget is ours,” said Noreen Farrell Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates and chair of the Stronger California campaign. “Let’s make women and families the priorities they should be.”

Access to affordable child care

Child care advocates within the Stronger California Network are working to restore child care assistance to pre-2008 levels, when nearly $1 billion was cut from child care programs. While the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Stronger California Advocates Network called for $800 million in state funding for child care, the revised budget does not include any new child care funding.

“We are disappointed that the Governor doesn’t see that investing in child care is central to his mission of an industrious and economically secure state,” said Mary Ignatius of Parent Voices, lead of the child care pillar of the Stronger California agenda. “His proposal contributes $6.7 billion to the rainy day fund, while declining to allocate just 0.7% of that to opening up access to child care. For the working mothers that the Stronger California Advocates Network supports, it’s raining now. They can’t work without child care and they can’t pay for child care without working. They are taking pay cuts and turning down promotions because of decade-old income guidelines. We must invest in child care for the working mothers who are suffering right now.”

Support for poor families

The Governor’s budget is silent on advocates’ calls for repeal of the maximum family grant rule, which limits CalWORKS benefits for mothers who have babies while receiving assistance. Fortunately leadership within the state legislature is standing strong behind the repeal, announcing they intend to prioritize it in the legislature’s budget proposal.

“We are incredibly encouraged by the strong support of Pro Tem Kevin de León and Speaker Anthony Rendon that this will be the year the maximum family grant rule is repealed,” said Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty and lead of the anti-poverty pillar of the Stronger California agenda. “For more than two decades, the maximum family grant rule has punished mothers of color, poor mothers, and children. The rule’s insistence that women prove they were raped or that their birth control failed in order to secure an exception to the rule is in violation of mothers’ right to privacy and families’ reproductive choices.”

The California Legislature will continue to debate Stronger California budget and legislative initiatives over the next three months. What is your vision for the state of California? You can take action to support these bills and others on the agenda, or you can sign up for our mailing list.

Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Passes CA Senate

April 29, 2016, published on http://www.equalrights.org 

This week, the 2016 Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (SB 1015) passed a Senate floor vote, marking an important step forward in the fight for domestic workers’ dignity.

There are over 300,000 domestic workers in California. These nannies, house cleaners, and caregivers are primarily immigrant women who work in private households in order to provide for their own families as the primary income earner. They are essential to California’s economy, yet they are among the most isolated, underpaid, and vulnerable workers in the state and historically have been exempted or excluded from basic labor protections afforded to other workers.

While the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights first became law in California in 2013, it will expire on January 1st without action. This critical law ensures that the state’s domestic workers have access to overtime pay and rest breaks.

“The Stronger California Advocates Network is proud of the California Domestic Workers Coalition’s leadership to ensure passage of SB 1015, and to be part of the movement to ensure dignity for domestic workers,” said Noreen Farrell, chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network and Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates.

The 2016 Domestic Worker Bill of Rights is a lead bill in the Fair Pay and Job Opportunities pillar of the Stronger California Legislative Agenda, a comprehensive platform of policy initiatives to improve the economic security of women and families in the state.

The legislation will now head to the Assembly. Californians, tell your assemblymember that you support SB 1015 today.

Win: Paid Family Leave Expansion

April 13, 2016, published on http://www.equalrights.org

On April 11, California took another important step forward to ensuring the economic security of women and families. Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 908 into law, expanding the state’s paid family leave program.

While California became the first state to guarantee paid family leave for workers in 2002, the law’s wage replacement rate hovered at just 55%, too low for many workers to afford to take leave. AB 908 increases the wage replacement provided during a worker’s six weeks of paid leave to 60 or 70%, depending on the worker’s income.

“No parent should have to choose between earning an income and caring for a family member in need,” said Stronger California Advocates Network chair Noreen Farrell. “Increasing the amount of wages families who take paid leave will receive ensures that low- and middle-income people can take advantage of California’s paid family leave law. AB 908 strengthens the country’s first paid family leave law and the Stronger California Advocates Network will continue to push California to lead the nation on family-friendly policies.”

This expansion is an important step toward ensuring that all workers can afford to take time off to care for newborns and family members. AB 908 was authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and was a lead bill in the family-friendly workplaces pillar of the Stronger California Legislative Agenda, which is a comprehensive platform of policy initiatives to improve the economic security of women and families in the state. The family-friendly workplaces pillar of the Agenda is led by the California Work & Family Coalition.

The Stronger California Advocates Network is a historic collaboration of advocate coalitions driving policy reform across four pillars critical to the economic security of women and families, addressing (1) poverty, (2) childcare, (3) fair pay and job opportunities, and (4) family friendly workplaces. Learn more at strongercalifornia.org. You can also support other 2016 Stronger California bills.

Win: CA Minimum Wage Raised to $15/hr

April 4, 2016, published on http://www.equalrights.org

Today, California made history. It became the first state in the country to raise its state minimum wage rate to $15 per hour.

Senate Bill 3, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown this morning, is a lead bill in the 2016 Stronger California campaign. This campaign, chaired by Equal Rights Advocates, is a historic bid to ensure the economic security of California’s women and communities. The increase in the minimum wage is not the first fair pay victory for the Stronger California Advocates Network, either: the California Fair Pay Act, passed last year, is now the strongest law of its kind in the country.

Raising the minimum wage is truly about economic justice, as Governor Brown said. Under the new law, California’s minimum wage rate will climb to $15 per hour by 2022 and six million Californians will receive a raise critical to supporting themselves and their families.

Increasing the minimum wage is critical in the fight for gender justice as well. Six out of ten minimum wage earners in California are women, and women of color are disproportionately represented among them. Nationwide, 23 percent of minimum wage workers are women of color, compared to 16 percent of workers overall. More than a third of minimum wage workers in California also have children to support.

Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates and chair of the Stronger California Advocates Network congratulated Network member advocates and legislators (including co-authors Senators Mark Leno, Kevin de Leon, and Connie M. Leyva) who led the minimum wage efforts. She said:

“A major theme of the Stronger California 2016 Agenda is ensuring dignity for community members by promoting policy solutions that provide meaningful change for those who need it the most. The $15 minimum wage in California will lift up low-wage workers, easing economic stress that has forced many to work multiple jobs to put food on the table. Many minimum wage-earning breadwinners are women, women who have been at the forefront of the #CAfor15 and #StrongerCA efforts. This victory is a game-changer for women, our families, and our communities.”

Under the bill’s terms, California’s minimum wage will increase to $10.50 in January 2017 and to $11 in January 2018. It will then increase by an additional $1 per hour every year until it reaches $15 in 2022, with a few caveats: the bill provides that the governor may slow the pace in a budget crisis and gives businesses with 25 or fewer employees an extra year to implement the increases.

Said Jodi Simpson, a hotel house cleaner and member of Sacramento Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment:

“An increase to $15 an hour will help tremendously. Right now workers like me have to worry check to check. We work 2 and 3 jobs, stressing out about being able to afford the basics. Today is an exciting day for all of us and a good step in the right direction, but we have lots of hard work ahead of us. “

Home to 12 percent of the nation’s women, California has long been a progressive influencer, leading the country on issues impacting women and families. This is precisely why raising the minimum wage was a key 2016 legislative priority for the Stronger California Advocates Network. Other priorities of the network include policies and California budget demands to address poverty, expand access to child care, promote fair pay and job opportunities, and ensure family-friendly workplaces.

While this is an important victory, there is still more work to be done to ensure the economic success of California’s women and communities in 2016. Visit strongercalifornia.org to learn more about the bills and budget asks of the 2016 Stronger California Agenda and to get involved.

Rallying for a Stronger California in 2016

March 14, 2016, published on http://www.equalrights.org

On March 10, we joined advocates, community members, and state legislators in Sacramento to launch the 2016 advocates’ agenda for the Stronger California campaign, which aims to ensure women’s economic opportunity in our home state. Together, the Stronger California Advocates Network is calling on California to step up and invest in women and families.

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The rally was featured in the Sacramento Bee, and on ABC and NBC news. You can also check out photos.

While we won important victories last year — including passage of the strongest equal pay law in the country, the California Fair Pay Act – there is still more work to be done to ensure women’s economic security.

Women are critical to a strong and vibrant California economy. Ensuring the economic security of all the state’s women and their families will benefit all communities, including men, children, and families who count on public policies to meet their basic needs, earn a decent living and care for their families. The Stronger California agenda takes a comprehensive approach and addresses the various obstacles faced by most, if not all, women in California at one time or another in their lives. Its bills and budget asks are designed to:

  • Build economic security by addressing poverty and helping women build assets to sustain them throughout their lives
  • Improve access to affordable and quality early childhood care and education
  • Ensure fair pay and job opportunities
  • Support family-friendly workplacesstronger ca rally 3

This year, the Stronger California Legislative Agenda will prioritize a handful of measures to build upon 2015’s success. Priority legislation and budget asks will serve women and families by expanding access to childcare, ensuring protected paid leave for parents bonding with new children,  guaranteeing reliable work schedules, abolishing the Maximum Family Grant denying income support to poor children, eliminating prior salary discussions, and more.

Read the full 2016 legislative agenda.

Stronger California Chair Noreen Farrell’s op-ed appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, discussing why we must eliminate salary history from salary negotiations.

As we gathered in Sacramento, women from across the state who are affected each day by these policies shared their stories and explained the impact this legislation would have on their lives.

Speakers included Stronger California Chair Noreen Farrell (Equal Rights Advocates), community advocate Vivan Thorp, Parents Voices advocates Lourdes Alarcon and Mary Ignacius, California Domestic Workers Coalition advocates Lourdes Deborganes and Katie Joaquin, Julia Parish (Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center), and fair pay advocate Aileen Rizo. Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Senator Hannah Beth Jackson and Legislative Women’s Caucus Vice Chair Cristina Garcia also contributed passionate speeches about the Agenda’s benefits to California.

California can and should better serve women like Lourdes, Vivian, and Aileen. By ensuring women’s economic security, we can lift up all of California. To help us build toward a stronger California, sign up for the campaign’s mailing list or save and share the graphic below.

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Winning Fair Pay in California

October 14, 2015, published on http://www.equalrights.org

WE DID IT!  Equal Rights Advocates has been working with partners across the state and country for decades to develop a strong equal pay bill to close gaps in existing law.  Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed it.

Governor Brown signs the California Fair Pay Act

In an historic moment at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, in front of an audience of women spanning generations and perspectives, the Governor signed the California Fair Pay Act, which will be the strongest equal pay law in the country when it goes into effect on January 1, 2016. The legislation will ensure equal pay for substantially similar work, strong protection against retaliation for workers who talk about pay to unearth discrimination, and gender equity across multiple worksites of the same employer.

The bill was introduced by Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and co-sponsored by ERA, the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. It is the flagship bill of a broader women’s economic security policy Agenda called Stronger California, chaired by ERA and co-led by dozens of advocacy organizations across the state.

The energy of the bill’s historic signing was palpable at the Rosie the Riveter Historical Park, which was packed with media, legislators, advocates and other supporters of the bill, and some real Rosie the Riveters. Representing the advocate power that moved the bill, ERA Executive Director Noreen Farrell joined political leaders as a speaker at the event before Governor Brown’s ceremonial signing. She said:

There were 39 billion reasons to pass this bill. That is how many dollars women lose in California to the pay gap every year, despite the fact that they head 1,751,000 family households in this state. Because the California Fair Pay Act was signed today – women WILL be paid the value of their work in this state. It is about fairness. It is about good business. And it really is about time.  

The bill’s expansive protections for workers were not the only reason its passage is historic. The bill was passed with bipartisan support and the endorsement of the California Chamber of Commerce, reflecting widespread support for fair pay. The bill’s passage followed announcements by Salesforce and other companies that they will audit pay and correct gender inequities.

Academy Award winning actress Patricia Arquette, who has worked with ERA onfair pay issues since her memorable call for wage equality at the Oscars, said:

“The California Fair Pay Act received bipartisan support because women support families and drive our economy. They also have tremendous political power. I thank Governor Brown, Senator Jackson, Equal Rights Advocates, and everyone who ensured the passage of this bill. It is a critical step toward ensuring that women in California are seen and valued as equals.”

Advocates from ERA, California Employment Lawyers Association, and Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

Advocates from ERA, California Employment Lawyers Association, and Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

We were honored to have ERA board members and longtime supporters in Richmond with us for the signing. Barbara Bryant, board member, said:

“I’ve never been more proud of ERA than I was yesterday, attending the signing ceremony.  In addition to how important the legal changes will be economically for all women, they also will spread the critical message that women and women’s work are (at least!) as important as that of men.”

Read more about the signing at Fusion, CBS News, ABC News, International Business Times, US News, BBC, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post.

 WIN! Signed into Law: the CA Fair Pay Act

October 6, 2015, published on http://www.equalrights.org 

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Fair Pay Act today at the Rosie the Riveter museum in Richmond, CA. As co-sponsors of the bill who have been working to clear the way for its passage for three years, we at ERA are thrilled that this bipartisan and broadly supported bill is now the strongest equal pay law in the nation. The new law will ensure that women are paid equally to men when they do similar work to men, and will protect women employees who ask questions about pay equity in the workplace from retaliation by their employers.

“The win here is undeniable. We think of 2015 as the year of fair pay,” said ERA Executive Director Noreen Farrell. “With the strong support for fair pay bills in the California legislature, a business community willing to prioritize pay equity for women, and calls for fair pay from the Oscars stage to the United Nations, it seems the tides are shifting toward closing the gender wage gap.”

Patricia Arquette, actress and fair pay activist, said:

“The California Fair Pay Act received bipartisan support because women support families and drive our economy. They also have tremendous political power. I thank Governor Brown, Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, Equal Rights Advocates, and everyone who ensured the passage of this bill. It is a critical step toward ensuring that women in California are seen and valued as equals.”

Read the full press release.

Women’s Equality Day Builds Toward a Stronger California

September 4, 2015, published on http://www.equalrights.org

“I’m so proud to be a Californian because California leads the way.” – Rep. Doris Matsui, Aug 26, 2015

Over 100 advocates, politicians, and community members gathered on the steps of the California State Capitol on August 26 to assert the political power of women through lifting up the Stronger California Legislative Agenda.

The Agenda seeks to ensure women’s economic security through access to: quality child care, fair pay and job opportunities, family-friendly workplaces, and anti-poverty  programs.

The day was Women’s Equality Day, which marks the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution giving women the right (but not always the opportunity) to vote. This was one of the early steps toward ensuring women’s access to the political process, so it was fitting to welcome U.S. Representative Doris Matsui, State Senators Holly Mitchell and Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. The Stronger California Advocates Network, which put on the rally, was also proud to welcome a coalition of interfaith leaders including Rev. Joy Johnson of Sacramento. Women workers like Maria de Jesus, from Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Kamica Cooper, a member of Parent Voices, shared their personal stories with media and the audience. Each of the women spoke about the intersection of the economic issues they face as they struggle to provide for their families and build toward their futures.

Take a look at our photo album to see more than 100 photos from the day. You can also check out News10’s segment on the rally.

“I was so moved to see the many people who gathered in Sacramento in support of women’s economic security,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates and co-chair of the Stronger California campaign. “Women across this state don’t get to pick and choose which economic barrier they’re going to surmount today. They deal with poverty and lack of access to childcare and job opportunities, they’re trying to build their assets while going to school and working. It’s time for politicians to tackle these issues comprehensively as well.”

The rally and Women’s Equality Day came at a time of great forward momentum for the Stronger California campaign, and members of the Stronger California Advocates Network spent much of Women’s Equality Day visiting legislators to urge their support of critical bills. Chaired by Equal Rights Advocates, the Network boasts 30 Roundtable members and dozens more Network Supporters from across the state.

Over 60% of the two dozen bill Agenda package has moved through the State Legislature, and Governor Jerry Brown has already expressed his intent to sign one bill, SB 358 or the Fair Pay Act. Other equal pay bills, like one that requires companies that do business with the state be transparent about what they pay women or another giving workers flexibility during child care emergencies, have seen immense support. Some, like Senate Bill 406, still need your support.

Calif♀rnia is Getting Stronger by the Day

July 10, 2015, published on http://www.equalrights.org

Three months ago, ERA joined the state’s top advocates and legislators to launch a visionary two-year campaign called Stronger Calif♀rnia: Securing Economic Opportunities for All Women to advance a comprehensive women’s economic security policy agenda.

The 2015 Stronger California Legislative Agenda is marching toward Governor Brown’s desk. The Agenda is unprecedented in scope. Developed in partnership with the California Women’s Legislative Caucus, the Agenda promotes over twenty bills and budget requests across four pillars that are critical to leading economically secure lives: (1) Fair pay and job opportunity, 2) Quality, affordable child care, 3) Family friendly workplaces, and 4) Eradication of poverty and asset development.

The collaboration of the Network – which brings together advocates from across different sectors for the first time to work on a united policy agenda – is historic, as is the vision of the Agenda. Together, we serve millions of Californians who struggle economically, despite having been critical to the economic recovery of the state. As the state enjoys a budget surplus of millions of dollars, the time has come to ease the burdens on California women and men and families through visionary policy reform.

Through the efforts of the Stronger California Advocates Network, chaired by Equal Rights Advocates, and its legislative partners, the Stronger California campaign has achieved significant success since its launch in March of this year. A strong majority of bills on the Agenda passed through their respective committees and floor votes in the first house. You can check out StrongerCalifornia.org for more information related to the Agenda, but here’s a round-up on the Agenda’s bills as they make their ways through the California Assembly and Senate. You can click the links to email your legislators in support of the bills.

Fair Pay and Job Opportunity Bills

This pillar of the Agenda includes bills to increase the minimum wage (SB 3), promote equal pay for equal work and pay transparency (SB 358, AB 1017, AB 1354 and ARC 1354), and eliminate gender bias in the workers compensation system (AB 305). We are happy to report all of these bills have passed through the house of their origin and several second house committee hearings. ERA Legal Director Jennifer Reisch testified in support of two of the equal pay bills last week, noting that the gender wage “gap has barely budged over the last decade. Recent studies show that Californian women working full-time earn, on average, 84 cents to every dollar earned by full-time working men. For women of color, the wage gap is significantly worse, with Latinas making on average just 44 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Because raising the minimum wage and enacting policies ensuring equal pay for equal work are critical to closing the gap, passage of these bills is as important now as ever.

This pillar also contains bills critical to ensuring that women receive the job training they need to improve their economic security (SB 342, AB 743, and AB 770.)

Good news:  all of these referenced bills have moved passed their first house vote.

Childcare Bills and Budget Asks

The Agenda includes both bills to improve access to affordable, quality child care and a request from the Women’s Legislative Caucus that the State Budget include additional resources for child care for low income families. This request resulted in an additional $265 million dollars in this year’s budget. SB 548 would give child care providers the right to collective bargaining with the State, increase the quality of child care and expand availability of child care. This bill has moved passed a Senate vote and is heading to Assembly committees.

Family Friendly Workplace Bills

Led by Network members from the California Work and Family Coalition, several bills that will advance family-friendly workplace policies also moved one step closer to second house floor votes. SB 406 (Jackson) would allow more workers to take time off to care for seriously ill family members by expanding the California Family Rights Act to apply to businesses with 25 or more employees (instead of 50 or more employees), and by broadening the definition of  “family member” to make it consistent with California’s Paid Family Leave law. Through these changes, Senate Bill 406 will expand the right to job protected family leave to more Californians. SB 579 (Jackson) would allow parents to take job-protected leave to address child care emergencies or to find and enroll their children in child care or school. AB 908 would expand benefits under the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program by increasing wage replacement rates and allowing workers to take this leave for up to ten weeks—instead of the current six—to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child.

“Workplace policies have cascading effects on families and their children,” said Sarah Crow, Associate Director of the Children and Families program at Next Generation. “California is poised to make leave policies stronger and more accessible, which will help thousands of families address their work and family needs.”

One priority bill from this pillar of the Agenda has been tabled for next year’s legislative session. AB 357 would have ensured predictable work schedules for thousands of Californians.

Alleviation of Poverty and Asset Building Bills

A quarter of Californians continue to live in poverty, and they are disproportionately women and children. Several bills within the Agenda address the needs of our poorest Californians. Because these bills all come at a cost to the State, they have struggled most to move forward. The Governor did include in his budget a benefit to low-income working residents, a State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). A piece of EITC legislation (SB 38) that builds on the Governor’s budget work continues to move through the legislature. In addition, SB 23, a bill to eliminate a cap on support for families receiving CalWORKs for children born while a family is receiving public support continues to be considered. Other bills included on the Agenda related to assisting people living in poverty have stalled in the Appropriations Committee because the costs attached to them.

“The lack of economic opportunity and equity contributes to the prevalence of poverty among women and their families. Our agenda includes bills that will immediately reduce poverty among women and build toward an economy that values women and girls equally,” said Jessica Bartholow, legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

A Team Effort

The Campaign’s successes in moving the individual bills forward have been a team effort led by individuals and organizations with deep experience in the pillar areas. The Roundtable of the Advocates Network is home to 29 organizations serving millions throughout the California and led by a Steering Committee representing state-wide coalitions working within each pillar, including the California Partnership, National Council of Jewish Women (California EDGE Campaign), Child Care Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, Mujeres Unidas Y Activas (CA Domestic Worker Alliance) , Next Generation (CA Work and Family Coalition), Parent Voices, Western Center for Law and Poverty, and the Women’s Foundation of California. Since the launch, dozens more organizations have joined as Network Supporters and have mobilized thousands in communities across California to support the Agenda. In Sacramento, the Agenda is led by progressive members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, chaired by Senator Hannah Beth Jackson and vice-chaired by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia.

“The Stronger California Network has brought new energy to efforts to win better work policies for women,” stated ERA Public Policy Lead Judy Patrick.

How You Can Help

California is known as a state that, in many ways, leads the way for women’s equality. Now is the time for the legislature to act and pass comprehensive policy reforms that will improve economic security of all women.

Click the bills above to tell your legislators to support them, or find out more about how your organization can join the Network.

Family-Friendly Workplaces Create a Stronger California

May 20, 2015, published on http://www.las-elc.org 

A new mother is told she will be fired if she does not return to work when her baby is just six weeks old. A retail worker struggles to find child care because her schedule is erratic and changes with little notice. A grandson is denied time off to care for his dying grandmother.  Thankfully, a group of legislators in California has proposed a package of bills that would help families avoid these unbearable situations.

Most children today live in households where all parents work, and one-third of families with children are headed by single parents. More and more people find themselves in the “sandwich generation,” caring for elderly parents and young children while trying to hold down a job. The balancing act can be impossible, forcing people to choose between caring for their children and loved ones and keeping the jobs that allow them to support their families.

Imagine being told that you would be fired if you took time off from work to help your newly adopted foster children deal with severe trauma and settle in to their new home. Sabrina did not have to imagine – it happened to her.

Sabrina was working as an accounting assistant when she got some terrible news: a car accident had killed her husband’s father and niece, leaving her husband’s three nephews – aged ten, eight and seven – without anyone to care for them.

Sabrina and her husband decided to adopt the boys, knowing there would be challenges considering the trauma they had experienced and the fact that two of the boys have cognitive disabilities. So she told her employer that she would apply for Paid Family Leave to bond with the children and help them adjust to their new environment. Sabrina’s employer refused to approve her leave and told her – in no uncertain terms – that she would lose her job if she took the time she needed. Sabrina felt she had no choice but to take leave to care for her new sons. When she did, she was fired.

California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program was the first in the nation to provide wage replacement for up to six weeks of leave for workers to bond with a new child, including adopted or foster children, or to care for an ill loved one. PFL means that workers can have partial income while they are caring for their family. But, current law only protects the jobs of people who take PFL at businesses with 50 or more employees. Because Sabrina’s employer had 30 employees, she did not qualify for job protected leave.

SB 406 (Jackson) would fix the problem by ensuring that more employees can use their PFL benefits without fear of losing their jobs, including those who work for an employer with 25 or more employees and those caring for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, parent in law or adult child.

PFL was groundbreaking and is vital to many families welcoming a new child or caring for a loved one. But many do not take PFL because, at 55%, the wage replacement level is too low for them to be able to afford to take time away from their jobs. This is especially unjust because the program is entirely funded through worker paycheck deductions. Making ends meet on minimum wage is difficult enough, let alone trying to survive on about half that amount. AB 908 (Gomez) would increase the wage replacement rate for low-wage workers, making this program more accessible to those who earn the least. The bill would also increase the amount of paid leave available from six to ten weeks per year.

In addition, many parents risk losing their jobs when they face a child care emergency such as the unforeseen unavailability of a child care provider or a temporary school closure. SB 579 (Jackson) would increase job protection for California parents, allowing parents to take time off from work to find and enroll their children in child care or school and to care for their children during an emergency.

Even without a child care or caregiving crisis, many low wage workers face challenges every day due to volatile scheduling practices. Many have little advance notice of when they will be required to work, making things like planning for child care, budgeting for groceries and scheduling doctor’s appointments nearly impossible. Forty-seven percent of hourly workers know their schedules one week or less in advance. AB 357 (Chiu and Weber) would remedy this problem by requiring food and retail establishments with more than 500 employees to have fair scheduling practices, helping ensure stability for a vast segment of California’s workforce.

California has an opportunity to act now to expand access to paid family leave, implement fair work schedules and allow parents to care for their children without risking their jobs. SB 406, SB 579, AB 908 and AB 357 would make it easier for all workers, but especially those in low-wage jobs, to meet their obligations at home and work – thereby strengthening families, workplaces and communities.  Contact your legislators and urge their support of working families.

 

 

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