Isn’t it Payback Time for Women?

 

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Credit: Olimpia Zagnoli

By Judith Shulevitz is the author of “The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time” and a contributing opinion writer. First appeared n the New York Times.

A COUNTRY that gives every citizen enough cash to live on whether she needs it or not: It’s got to be either a fool’s paradise or a profligate Northern European nation. And lo, in November, the Finnish government proposed paying every adult 800 euros or about $870 a month. Fits of this seemingly irrational generosity, called a universal basic income or U.B.I., are becoming surprisingly common. The Swiss will vote in a referendum on basic income this year. The Dutch city of Utrecht will soon start a basic-income pilot program. Canada’s ruling Liberal Party recently adopted a resolution calling for a similar experiment.

Still, it couldn’t happen here. Or could it? Over the past few years, a case for the U.B.I. has emerged that could make it appealing not just to the poor, who don’t vote in great numbers, but to women, who do.

The feminist argument for a U.B.I. is that it’s a way to reimburse mothers and other caregivers for the heavy lifting they now do free of charge. Roughly one-fifth of Americans have children 18 or under. Many also attend to ill or elderly relatives. They perform these labors out of love or a sense of duty, but still, at some point during the diaper-changing or bedpan cleaning, they have to wonder why their efforts aren’t seen as “work.” They may even ask why they have to pay for the privilege of doing it, by cutting back on their hours or quitting jobs to stay home.

Disproportionately, of course, these caregivers are women. Continue reading

Support women in Maine- increase minimum wage

"I've worked at this particular location at near-minimum wage for 2 years. Only part-time, though — so I can be home with my two young children during the day so my husband can work full time. Despite the pay, I'm happy to be there. The hours and schedule are flexible, and I've met some amazing people. Without my husband's career, however, it wouldn't be possible for me to work there. If you account for the travel and food, I don't contribute much financially. Without Joshua's career, We'd be obligated to seek state help, and I'd be working double-triple the hours to make ends meet. Like so many other Mainers, We live on a budget — more so during the winter. My job is one I'm grateful to have; even if the pay is modest. We balance and make do for ourselves, and our children. Growing up, I was always told to work hard and get the career I wanted. Go to college, earn a career that you're proud of. But, What's completely flawed about that is the implication that a minimum wage job isn't something to be proud of."-Sarah Giles

“I’ve worked at this particular location at near-minimum wage for 2 years. Only part-time, though — so I can be home with my two young children during the day so my husband can work full time. Despite the pay, I’m happy to be there. The hours and schedule are flexible, and I’ve met some amazing people. Without my husband’s career, however, it wouldn’t be possible for me to work there. If you account for the travel and food, I don’t contribute much financially. Without Joshua’s career, We’d be obligated to seek state help, and I’d be working double-triple the hours to make ends meet.
Like so many other Mainers, We live on a budget — more so during the winter. My job is one I’m grateful to have; even if the pay is modest. We balance and make do for ourselves, and our children.
Growing up, I was always told to work hard and get the career I wanted. Go to college, earn a career that you’re proud of. But, What’s completely flawed about that is the implication that a minimum wage job isn’t something to be proud of.”-Sarah Giles

By Katie Logue, Auburn

There are so many ways that the economy is rigged against women and families and I have seen the impacts first-hand.

A few years ago, I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet, making slightly more than the minimum wage ($8 per hour) and trying to support myself and my 6-year-old after my marriage failed.

My son and I were on food stamps and MaineCare, even though I was working full time. No matter how hard I tried to find appropriate housing, there was no way I could afford $900-$1,000 a month for rent.

I had a car payment for a car that wasn’t even safe but was my only way to get to work. Even after I finally saved enough to get an apartment, it was impossible to keep up with the bills.

At one point, after being evicted, I was living in a homeless shelter while working full time to save enough to get another apartment.

I know that I am not the only one who has struggled to support my family on poverty wages. I also know that this issue affects women much more than men.

The majority of minimum-wage workers are women, many of us supporting families. Here in Maine, women still earn, on average, just 84 percent of what our male counterparts earn.

It is time for a change. In January, the Legislature will consider citizen-initiated legislation to increase Maine’s minimum wage. Lawmakers and voters should stand with Maine women and support it.

First appeared in the Sun Journal.

Portland’s minimum wage will give all workers a boost

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The new law honors the hardworking service workers in our city while making sure that all participants can prosper.

With federal and state governments stalled, the Portland City Council listened to residents, economists and other knowledgeable people, then stepped up and enacted a higher minimum wage. As Gov. LePage has said on other subjects, important decisions should be left to the government operating closest to the people.

On Jan. 1, 2016, Portland’s minimum wage for all workers will rise from the state minimum of $7.50 to $10.10. A year later, it increases to $10.68 and annually thereafter will increase with the cost of living.

With the council vote, Portland became one of just 20 of the nation’s 20,000 municipalities to adopt a wage above prevailing state and federal minimums. No other municipality in New England or the Eastern Seaboard outside Washington, D.C., has done so. Continue reading

Some, minimum wage workers have to wait too long for food stamps in Maine

From: Action from DHHS is demanded as Maine ranks last in food assistance program delivery

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By Ramona du Houx

According to the Food and Nutrition Service’s most recent report, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has the lowest application procession timeliness rate in the country for the food stamp program— known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

From January to June of 2015 the state’s processing time rate was 68.97 percent. It is an appalling figure that has led Maine to become known as the worst state in delivering SNAP assistance. Maine is now ranked 53 out of 53 agencies that deliver SNAP.

Applicants should receive SNAP benefits by the 7th day from the date of application. Maine’s worst processing case, number 78901234 of 2014, took 59 days to process.

Imagine the anxiety of a parent having to wait for assistance to feed their children.

Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond is demanding immediate accountability from DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and Gov. Paul LePage after the Department of Health and Human Services over the issue.

“While more and more people in our state don’t have enough to eat, the Department is dragging its feet,” said Sen. Alfond. “Maine children and seniors who are playing by the rules and eligible for food assistance are left hungry and waiting because DHHS can’t or won’t do its job.”

It’s important to remember that SNAP is a federal program where no state funds are used.

In a Dec. 7 letter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified DHHS that it faced a potential loss of federal SNAP administration funds if DHHS doesn’t improve its delivery rate. In fiscal year 2014, that funding was roughly $10.2 million.

The letter outlined the Department’s failure to process SNAP applications on time. Those delays mean hungry Mainers miss more meals because of broken DHHS bureaucracy. It detailed the state’s “chronically poor performance” in meeting laws “meant to protect a low-income household’s right to receive nutrition assistance benefits in a timely manner.”

If DHHS loses its contract with the federal government to deliver SNAP in a timely way — so people are not put at risk from hunger — the federal government would find another agency to deliver the SNAP benefits to people.

The letter also described DHHS’s failure to adequately address problems in its administration of SNAP, which have been raised again and again by the USDA.

“DHHS has shown a brazen disregard for accountability,” said Sen. Alfond. “They have bristled at those who would hold them responsible for the dangerous conditions at Riverview, the sudden decision to end contracts that provide needed health care services, and now, the failure to administer the SNAP program. Now the state faces a potential multi-million dollar penalty for that mismanagement.”

Sen. Alfond is exploring his options to hold the department accountable and ensure it is fulfilling its mission to serve Maine people.

Sen. Alfond is also leading an effort to ensure school children are fed during summer months when there is no access to meals at their schools.

Bangor, Maine to decide on minimum wage on Dec. 14, 2015