In Ybor City Nancy Pelosi lays out agenda for improving economic issues for women listen09/23/13 Seán Kinane
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Women still earn only about three quarters of what men make, but the former speaker of the U.S. House was in Ybor City Monday afternoon promoting a plan to change that.
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi told women leaders from the community that Congress needs to act in three areas to improve the economy by boosting up women: fair pay, paid family leave and affordable quality child care.
"We really have to change this environment. It's really not working. Why should we work nearly a quartr of the year, effectively, for free. 22 percent, 23 percent, whatever it is, of the year somebody else is getting paid during that time and women are not. So we wanted to put together an agenda to change the environment. Just to make it different so that women could succeed. In addressing some of the challenges that were put forth by our guest and certainly explained personally by Gerry. As we went across the country it turned into something, this is about the 15th meeting we've had of this kind, but halfway through we changed from listening to what would work to putting forth some of what we've heard and then hearing your views on that. And we came down to a place that said we have to have an economic agenda specifically addressing workplace. Specifically addressing the workplace, there's so many issues we can talk about as you well know. But this specifically addressing the workplace. And that brought us to this agenda with three pillars. Fair pay, raising the minimum wage. I don't have to say it again, 62 percent of people making minimum wage are women. Raising the minimum wage, and we have the legislation to do that called the 'Fair Minimum Wage Act'. When we took over the majority the first thing we did in the first one hundred hours in 2007, that first day was to raise the minimum wage. It had not been raised in 11 years. It's time to raise it again, in fact it's long overdue."
"Part of this problem is paycheck fairness. Equal pay for equal work. What is this? So we have a 'Paycheck Fairness Act' put forth by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who is unbelievable, champion, whirlwind, force of nature on this subject. She was also the author of the Lily Ledbetter Act that passed the Congress, first bill signed by the President. Now, as you know, that is when the right of recourse, should they find out that they had been discriminated against, so that's really important, but that isn't the 'Paycheck Fairness Act' which would make it the law of the land. So all of that is about, raising the minimum wage, paycheck fairness.
"The second point is about paid leave. I was there, we worked for a long time trying to pass the Family Medical Leave, but it wasn't until President Clinton was elected that we had a president who would sign it. It's wonderful, 100 million families in America have availed themselves of the family and medical leave, but it's not paid and everybody doesn't have it so we have to expand that. The very least we can do is a week's worth of earned paid leave. We have to insist upon that. I'll give you an example after I go to the next point. And the next point, we have the legislation to do that, it's called the 'Healthy Families Act'. How could it be in the United States of America that a woman cannot take a day off to care for herself, her family, her child, her parent, whatever it is, without being docked pay and not having this opportunity.
"And that takes us to the third point which is really, I think, going to transform, unleash the power of women in a very important way, and that is affordable quality child care. It is the missing link that was never done."
The initiative is called When Women Succeed, America Succeeds, An Economic Agenda for Women and Families. Pelosi spike today at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.
She was joined by Tampa-area member of Congress Kathy Castor and several women who shared stories about how the program could help them.
Pelosi was also asked about whether Republicans would succeed in stopping the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Enrollment begins next Tuesday for the health care marketplaces under the new health care law.