Ok, roses are lovely. I don’t mean to imply that moms shouldn’t get roses for Mother’s Day. But roses are pretty and just that.
Roses can’t cover up the fact that women still don’t earn nearly what men do for the same work. Roses aren’t a substitute for the fact that there’s no law on the books that guarantees working moms a single paid sick day to care for their sick child or parent. And roses certainly won’t help new moms who don’t have access to or any right to paid maternity leave to spend needed time with their newborn.
So on the occasion of this Mother’s Day, I’d like offer up some suggestions to our members of Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly on how they can truly honor working mothers.
To Congress (well, actually members of the U.S. Senate)—how about commemorating Mother’s Day by finally taking up the languishing Paycheck Fairness Act? The House has already done its job in passing this much-needed legislation that would update the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 and deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the EPA and ban retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. The Paycheck Fairness Act is one of the only federal remedies out there right now that would dramatically help close the gender wage gap. Or rather, address the fact that women still make only 77 cents to every man’s dollar.
To the NC General Assembly—what about taking a stand for working North Carolininans that are struggling to balance work and family? What about supporting and passing a modest standard that would guarantee all workers in the state a couple of paid sick days annually to care for themselves or a sick family member? Moms especially are now playing the role of breadwinner and caretaker. They need help in caring for their children. And this widespread lack of paid sick days hurts our economy–“presenteeism”, when workers come to work sick, costs our economy $180 billion annually. The Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act would provide the 1.6 million North Carolina workers that don’t have access to a single paid sick day with some measure of economic security in today’s economy.
And finally, both Congress and the NC General Assembly need to start grappling with the fact that having a baby is a leading cause of a “poverty spell” in the United States. Over half of new moms lack any type of paid leave to care for a newborn. And when paid family leave has been shown to reduce infant mortality by 20%, maybe it’s time to start thinking about making paid family leave real in our country.
Happy Mother’s Day Momma!