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Protecting Women’s Equality, Safety and Health Care

Protecting Women’s Equality, Safety and Health Care

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Published by: New York State Senate Democratic Conference on Aug 01, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Protecting Women’s Equality,
Safety and Health Care
 A Report on the Alarming Nationwide War Against Women New York StateSenate Democratic Conference
 
 
 
Protecting Women’s Equality, Safety and Health Care
 
“Throughout the
 country we are seeing the hard-won rights of women being infringed upon and  outright stolen. We have an obligation as legislators to take a stand against this radical agenda and not simply provide assurances for these rights, but also expand them to provide better safeguards and 
 protections for New York State women.” 
1
 
Across the United States, there has been steady and growing momentum to restrict the rights andequal protections of women in this country. Republicans at all levels of government across thenation have been systematically stripping away the rights women have fought decades to attain.
This aggressively backward “War Against
W
omen” is happening b
oth in Congress and statecapitals across the nation. The New York State Senate Democratic Conference believes that it is
unacceptable to erode and discriminate against a woman’s rights, freedoms and health care
needs.To help highlight and educate New Yorkers on theseissues, the Senate Democratic Conference held aseries of three public forums, focused on legislativebills and initiatives relating to pay equity and equaleconomic opportunities for women, protections fromdomestic violence, and health care protections andreproductive rights. The events, held in Albany andsponsored by Democratic Senators Liz Krueger, RuthHassell-Thompson, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins,respectively, brought together members of theDemocratic Conference, advocates and professionalsfrom across the New York to address these vitalissues.
I.
 
Pay Equity and Economic Opportunity
“If working class women earned dollar for dollar what men earned, poverty rates in New York would 
 be cut in half. Equal pay in the work place is not only a right earned by all women, but it is also the
right way to strengthen New York‟s economy.” 
 2
 
The first of the series of events was a roundtable held on May 12, 2012, hosted by State SenatorLiz Krueger. Senator Krueger convened a panel of experts from across the state to discuss payequity and economic opportunities. The panel focused on legislation designed to promote
fairness and help stimulate and strengthen New York’s economic recovery
by helping womenenter or remain in the workplace and ensuring equal rights and fair pay. According to advocatesand experts, by increasing the workforce and providing funds for training opportunities, NewYork can achieve long-term economic growth and fiscal security.
1
Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson.
2
Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women in New York City. Statement at Senate DemocraticConference Roundtable on Women and the Economy. May 12, 2012.
 
“Now more than ever, we
recognize that advances in
women‟s rights cannot be taken
 for granted.These forums focus attention onimportant issues such as payequity, reproductive freedomand domestic violence prevention that impact women of 
all ages and circumstances.” 
-
 Senator Suzi Oppenheimer 
 
 
Legislation discussed at the roundtable included the
 New York State Fair Pay Act 
, which wouldprohibit wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race and/or national origin. Despite existingfederal and state anti-discrimination laws, unfair wage gaps persist between male and femaleemployees jobs involving the essentially the same skills, responsibilities and working conditions.The disparity, whereby working women are paid only 77 cents compared to the dollar earned bytheir male counterparts,
3
not only continues, but the prospect of retaliation by employers topunish employees for voluntarily sharing wage information with their colleagues remains a veryreal threat. The
Wage and Transparency Act 
(S.5674
 – 
Krueger) would prohibit such retaliationand provide for compensatory damages.Senator Krueger and roundtable participants discussedadditional legislation designed to ensure equal rightsand opportunities in the workplace. Bills includedcommonsense legislation such as that which wouldrequire employers to provide reasonableaccommodations for pregnant workers, therebypromoting healthier pregnancies and reducing theunnecessary displacement and turnover of pregnant workers (S.6273 - Krueger). This bill alsoincludes occupational training programs which help women access higher-wage career paths.The panel agreed that these types of legislative initiatives would help women enter and remain in
the workplace, strengthen the foundation for New York’s long
-term economic prosperity bygrowing the workforce, ensure more family-friendly workplaces and provide funds for trainingopportunities.
Legislation discussed:
 
Paid Family Leave (S.1252 Addabbo):
Creates a 22-week paid family leave programfor new parents or workers who need to take time off to care for sick family members
 
New York State Fair Pay Act
(
S.2200 Krueger / A.6130 Wright
): Would prohibitemployers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex race and/or nationalorigin for work in equivalent jobs
 
Wage Transparency Act
(
S.5674 Krueger / A.8348 Meng):
Would prohibit employersfrom retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries
 
Reasonable Accommodations (S.6273 Krueger / A.9114 Gunther):
would requireemployers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women
 
Increase in Minimum Wage (S.6335 Espaillat):
Would raise the minimum wage to$8.50 in 2013 and $9.25 in 2014 and link raising the minimum wage to the rate of inflation starting in 2015
Participants of the Pay Equity Forum:
 
A Better Balance
 – 
Dina Bakst
 
City of Albany, Treasurer
 – 
Kathy Sheehan
 
League of Women Voters
 – 
Barbara Bartoletti
3
 
The National Committee on Pay Equity. “Wage Gap Statistically Unchanged.Available at http://www.pay
-equity.org/
“Fairness and economic growthgo hand in hand, and it‟s time for 
the Senate Republicans to get off 
the sidelines and work for both.” 
- Senator Liz Krueger 

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