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CustomFit Workplace blog

The CustomFit Workplace blog is part of the MomsRising.org Open, Flexible Work blog. It is a place where workers, managers, educators and Human Resources professionals can share their insights and questions. The views expressed in this blogs aren't necessarily representative of the CustomFitWorkplace.org initiative or of MomsRising.org policy positions. Interested in blogging? drop us a line

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I fasted for comprehensive immigration reform that helps families thrive

Editor’s Note: More than 1,200 women from 70 organizations are fasting in 35 states for immigration reform that keeps families together and treats women fairly this month. The month of fasting will culminate April 7-9th, 2014 when 100 women will fast in DC for 48 hours.

Click here to sign the petition urging Speaker Boehner to meet with these courageous women in DC in April.

I was really excited to participate in the fast with other advocates of immigrant survivors.

During the day when my tummy would give a little rumble I was able to reflect on all the immigrant families I've met in my lifetime who have survived too many crimes, who are still separated from their immediate family members, who still struggle to live in the shadows, and have to fight to have even their basic needs met.

I am proud to have fasted in solidarity with other advocates across the country to show Congress that we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform now! I want to be able to stop counting the number of women and families who have survived, and start counting the number who THRIVE.

My fast will last past the We Belong Together delegation in DC

I am originally from Mexico and studied electronic engineering there until I moved to Grand Rapids in 1991.

My family has been living and working there since 1945 when the United States was doing all they could to get workers from Mexico to come to this country to work during the war effort. My husband, two daughters, and I have a comfortable life in Grand Rapids. But when I think of the hard-working immigrants who came to this country in an effort to make a better life for their families back in Mexico, I know that I must act.

I think about what is must be like for them to go to a job and possibly get stopped on the drive home because of a minor traffic incident, then be deported knowing your family will not have you home for dinner and possibly never see you again. I cannot be indifferent to the injustice of this broken system. My faith moves me to help take action.

Making Women’s History: From Patsy Mink to Paycheck Fairness

I was a bit surprised by the lack of coverage for Women’s History Month this year, particularly in the state where I live, since so many women who improved the lives of working families were pivotal to Hawaii’s history.

It is essential that we continue to remember these women.

While many people are aware of Congresswoman Patsy Mink’s accomplishments, many are not as familiar with Harriet Bouslog, Hawaii’s first female labor and civil rights attorney, or ILWU social worker Ah Quon McElrath. Yet like Mink, the significance of their achievements extends far beyond the advances they made as women.  Furthermore, their stories demonstrate the far-reaching changes that one individual can achieve, regardless of existing social barriers or the eras in which they lived.

What I think about when I fast every Wednesday for Lent

Editor’s Note: More than 1,200 women from 70 organizations are fasting in 35 states for immigration reform that keeps families together and treats women fairly this month. The month of fasting will culminate April 7-9th, 2014 when 100 women will fast in DC for 48 hours.

Click here to sign the petition urging Speaker Boehner to meet with these courageous women in DC in April.

Fasting has been a very interesting and contemplative experience for me. In addition to this 24-hour fast for immigrant survivors of violence, I have pledged to fast every Wednesday during Lent.

So Done With Unequal Pay! #NoMoreMadMenPay

Confession: I grew up believing that women had mostly achieved equality in the workplace and the world.

But when my first child was born, I quickly learned that I was mistaken. My son was absolutely amazing, and he was also born with an immune system deficiency. I had to leave my full-time job.

Since my mom was single for much of my childhood, I was haunted by the "what ifs." What if I didn't have a husband with an income and job-based healthcare? My situation could've been a disaster. My son is now healthy, as is my daughter. But not everyone is so lucky.

For too many, motherhood is a barrier to equality, to pay, and to economic security.

That's why I'm thrilled that today President Obama signed equal pay executive ordersthat help fight wage discrimination for employees of federal contractors, on this day, Equal Pay Day.

After fasting, I felt triumphant!

Editor’s Note: More than 1,200 women from 70 organizations are fasting in 35 states for immigration reform that keeps families together and treats women fairly this month. The month of fasting will culminate April 7-9th, 2014 when 100 women will fast in DC for 48 hours.

Click here to sign the petition urging Speaker Boehner to meet with these courageous women in DC in April.

I put up a sign next to my cube at work that said I was fasting and got a lot of support from co-workers (especially those who were also fasting themselves), and others who share our office space.

I shared a post on my Facebook page about our fasting, and there was a good response from friends there.

These seem like little anecdotes, but slowly but surely the word gets out! It helped me to know that I was one of many participating in the fast across the country. When I had breakfast this morning, I felt triumphant!

I am fasting for my family

I am a 25-year-old UC San Diego graduate and I taking on my second fast for fair immigration reform.

I was born in Oakland and have waited all of my life to meet my family from the Philippines. My mother obtained her citizenship before I was born and one of the first things she did was file for family visas for my aunts and uncles. After 25 years, we are still waiting. It has been a particularly hard road over the past five years. After the death of my father, my mother has suffered from depression, and longs for the comfort of her siblings. The visa situation is just another barrier that affects women more than men. Family visas are difficult to come by and men are granted work visas at a much higher rate than women.

End of Mad Men Pay

I am proud to support President Barack Obama's executive orders to promote and protect equal pay for women. The first executive order would protect federal employees who share salary information with one another. The second executive order will instruct the Secretary of Labor to create regulations requiring federal contractors to disclose salary information. This will ensure women start receiving the same legal protections against pay discrimination currently provided to protect against pay discrimination based on race and ethnicity. I have been fighting to get these protections passed for years and I am excited to see them finally enacted.

As a long time advocate for women's rights, I am encouraged by the progress we have made in the past few decades. Currently, women make up 58 percent of college graduates, 28.7 percent of business owners, and 18.5 percent of congressional representatives. I am very proud to say that Bronx County, parts of which are in my district, has the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the nation. There is no doubt that we are have made amazing progress as a society, but there is so much more to be done.

Gross Domestic Product – What if you got paid to raise your children?

The idea to write a play about motherhood came to me when I was writing my last play, Flipside and nursing my second child. Actually, it had been gestating since the day I was nursing my first child and complaining to my HartBeat Co-Artistic Director Greg Tate that the intersecting struggles of child care, career and being broke were making motherhood feel impossible.

To this my wise friend said, “Well that’s what’s behind the movement for counting childrearing as part of the Gross Domestic Product. Think about how much easier this would all be if raising children was valued for what it is – producing human capital, which is two thirds of any nation’s capital.” Hmmm… that was something to think about.

But I didn’t really think about it again until that second kid came along and I was consumed with the feeling that life could spin out of control at the drop of a pacifier. What would it look like if motherhood was valued monetarily in the US? How different would my life be? How different would all of our lives be?

Scrambling for Stability: The Challenges of Job Schedule Volatility and Child Care

For Karen, a part-time package delivery person and mom to a one-year-old, making child care arrangements is a weekly exercise in scrambling. That’s because Karen receives notice of her schedule only one week in advance, and her shifts fluctuate. The volatility of her schedule makes everything harder. Karen struggles to find friends and family to care for her baby on short notice. And when she can’t work the magic necessary to arrange child care on the fly, she is disciplined at work for being late or missing a day. Karen’s story, recounted in a 2011 report from the Institute for Workplace Innovation and Workplace Flexibility 2010, highlights how job scheduling and child care challenges can prevent workers from advancing in their jobs and ensuring their children are well-cared for.

What you want to know about the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law

What you want to know about the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law

Earlier this month, ACLU Nationwide sent a letter to a Colorado employer, documenting multiple violations of the federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law.

While calling on DISH Network to provide adequate space and privacy for its nursing employees, ACLU sent a clear message to all employers in the country: it is the employer’s sole responsibility to accommodate nursing mothers.

Effective on March 23, 2010, “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law requires employers to provide break time and a place for hourly paid workers to express breast milk at work. If you are a nursing mother who works, there are several things you might want to know about this federal law.

Who is covered by the law?
The law applies to nonexempt employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Are the breaks paid?
The law does not require pumping breaks to be paid. However, if your employer already offers paid breaks and you use those breaks to pump your milk, your time should be paid.

No One Tells Mamma to “Just Go Home!”

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Imagine you have just returned from maternity leave, still nursing your baby, and you find that your workplace has no place available for you to pump breast milk.  After trying for several hours to find a place, you ask for help from your department head, who says “You know, I think it’s best that you just go home to be with your babies.”  She hands you a pen and paper, advises you to resign, and even dictates what you should write down as your letter of resignation.

This is exactly what Angela Ames, a Loss Mitigation Representative at Nationwide Insurance, alleges happened to her when she returned to work eight-weeks after having her second child.

What Would Gloria Do? #WWGD

The first MAKERS CONFERENCE was held in February, including a celebration of the life and work of Gloria Steinem. In honor of her eightieth birthday, it featured a video with touching and funny statements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Katie Couric, and others about Steinem’s life’s work that, as Marlo Thomas summarized, “connected the dots between all women and created a sisterhood.” At the end, the screen displayed a simple hashtag, #WWGD, which stands for “What would Gloria do?”

What would Gloria do to resolve the unfinished business of the women’s movement she helped create? On the conference’s opening night she offered advice, in an interview with Jennifer Aniston. MAKERS began with an idea to create a documentary telling the story of Steinem’s life. But Steinem insisted the story of the women’s movement could not be told through the life of one woman; thus, the MAKERS project began, with a goal to collect women’s stories documenting the past 50 years of change.

Brigid Schulte is Overwhelmed – and So Are You! Part One

Author Brigid Schulte has a job, a house, a husband, several children, and a whole lot of stress.  She’s also just written a book, available online and at your favorite bookstore, called Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, about how we’ve taken on way more than we can handle, what it’s doing to our lives and our families, and  how we can learn to live differently.  She graciously made time for my questions, both here and in my next post on this blog.

Do fathers and mothers experience overwhelm differently?

Let’s blog about women and retirement security

Women and Retirement Security Blog Roundup

Despite decades of social and economic gains, older American women are still twice as likely as elderly men to be living near or below the federal poverty line. Two-thirds of American women older than 65 have no retirement income other than Social Security and the average monthly Social Security benefit for women is around $1,000. 

Many factors contribute to this disparity, but unequal pay, retirement plan access, family obligations, and financial literacy are the main causes.

Addressing America’s looming retirement security crisis is a social and economic imperative for women and all working Americans.

This Women’s History Month, SEIU’s Retirement Security for All campaign is joining with other organizations to explore how we can make the American Dream of delivering retirement security to more working women a reality. You’re invited to talk about what this means for your organization, members or community through text, photos, video, reports, policy and personal stories.

Food, Fashion and a Little History

Good work, moms!: No one seems to know exactly what to thank for the 43% drop in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds. Michelle Obama? Food stamp changes that make fruits and veggies more affordable for low-income families?
I know who to thank: You…moms. Many factors probably contribute to this huge improvement, but the fact that kids are getting fewer sugar-packed drinks also points to you.

#DoubleBooked: 12 Tips for CLIPS (Career Loving Involved Parents)

This piece, written by Rachel and her husband, Mark Davies, originally appeared at The Huffington Post on February 11, 2014. It also appeared as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog seriesDouble Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century” on Februrary 14, 2014.  Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.

Rabbi Andrea Berlin for #DoubleBooked: Internal Conflict

This blog originally appeared on February 24, 2014 as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog series “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century.” Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked. 

By Rabbi Andrea Berlin

As our nation prepares for a conversation about working families, I am struck by my own good fortune.  So many families with hard working adults struggle to manage safe and healthy childcare, financial solvency, adequate health coverage, meaningful work, respect at their job sites, and quality time with each other.  How fortunate my own family is!

Thanks to NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Pregnant Woman is Back at Work

Floralba, a pregnant retail worker in the Bronx, was sent home on unpaid leave because she needed to temporarily avoid heavy lifting in order to prevent having another miscarriage. Last week, A Better Balance used the new law we championed, the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to get Floralba back at work, with backpay, and to convince her employer to update it’s policies in compliance with the law! This week, she has been pricing and hanging clothes instead of hauling heavy piles of clothes as she was required to do in the past. Thanks to this powerful new law, Floralba did not have to choose between her paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. 

Isaac Luria for #DoubleBooked: Double Booked: Building Human-friendly Workplaces that Value the Human Spirit

This blog originally appeared on February 25, 2014 as part of the Religious Action Center’s blog series “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century.” Double Booked deals with the many issues that affect working families, and features everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts and subscribe for updates, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked. 

I was invited recently to a conference organized by the Obama Administration on combating child trafficking – an issue that as a dad, I care a ton about.


Isaac’s son Caleb sees where his Dad works, promptly gets on Dad’s chair and starts making calls. Summer 2013.

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