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O: Open Flexible Work

Tough Choices for Momepreneurs: Combating the Health Insurance Barrier

I am an entrepreneur, a momepreneur, to be exact.

I was working full-time at a university writing center when I had my second child at the age of 41.  It became clear to me that working full time was too much of a strain on my family. I decided to move down from full-time to part-time employment, but instead of improving things, the stress of doing a full time job in part time hours was too much. It was evident to me then that if I was going to be healthy and happy, I needed to make a change—and that change meant starting my own business. The flexibility of being an entrepreneur allows me to spend more quality time with my family while still pursuing my own professional goals. However, despite the benefits of being a momeprenuer, healthcare coverage almost kept me, and later my husband, from making the decision that would improve our lives.

Family Leave Meant a Strong Start for My Son, My Family and Me

Eight years ago, our first son was born. Like many, I found becoming a parent to be an amazing, life-changing experience. I was humbled by the realities of this new responsibility and overwhelmed by the love that I had to give.

Nine months of anticipation only partially prepare you for parenthood. Before the birth of your child, you simply do not understand that unconditional connection that you will feel to this new person. With every passing day, you realize how delicate and critical a time it is for your baby’s life —how little milestones are shaping everything to come.

For me and my wife, access to family leave was critical during this time. Unlike the majority of new mothers and fathers in the United States, my wife was able to take paid time off of work to recover from pregnancy and care for our son. And when she returned to her job, I was able to take leave to care for and bond with him for several months. This meant that our son spent the critical early months of his life fully in our care.

Working Moms Just Blamed (Again)!?

 Deep breath. Count to 10. Can’t. Believe. He. Really. Said. That.

Yesterday at a Washington Post event, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) said that America is so “mediocre” in educational outcomes because “mom is in the workplace.”

… oh REALLY?!

There is steam coming out of the ears of moms across America.

Governor Bryant deserves a Hall of Shame trophy for blaming moms (moms!) for the failure of our nation’s leaders to step up. But before that Hall of Shame of shame is built, the moms of America need an apology from him.

The problem in our nation isn’t that moms are working, it’s that our nation isn’t working for moms.

And Governor Bryant isn’t insulting a small number of people here: Most women (over 80 percent!) become moms at some point in their lives.

Appeals Court Holds That Breastfeeding Is “Related To Pregnancy” (Or Why My Four-Year-Old Understands Basic Biology Better Than Some Judges)

By Galen Sherwin, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

When Donnicia Venters disclosed to her manager as she was preparing to return to work after her maternity leave that she was breastfeeding and would need a place to pump breast milk, she was met with silence. And then told that her “spot ha[d] been filled.”

When the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission tried to sue on her behalf, a federal district court judge dismissed her case, on the ground that firing someone because she is breastfeeding is not sex discrimination. This is despite clear language in federal anti-discrimination law prohibiting employers from discriminating against workers based on “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” The judge’s reasoning: lactation was not a “condition related to pregnancy and childbirth” because once the plaintiff had her baby, “she was no longer pregnant and her pregnancy-related conditions ended.

Why Most Women Can’t “Lean In” Without Stronger Laws

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, has kicked up all sorts of controversy with her argument that career women can be their own worst enemy and should “lean in” more to their jobs and their ambitions. But the biggest, largely unspoken problem is not that she is elitist, or placing blame in the wrong place. It is that most women can’t rely on their work ethic or the good will of their boss to get ahead— they need stronger legal protections to effectively “lean in.”

It’s a vast, systemic issue. Women’s legal rights – at the moment of hiring, when they receive their paycheck, when they get pregnant, after they give birth – are consistently trampled, and many of them feel powerless to fight back. A recent WSJ/NBC poll found that an overwhelming 84 per cent of American women perceive bias in the workplace.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend! It’s #momdance (& link opportunity) time!

It’s time to celebrate! Here’s a fun and free way to celebrate Mother’s Day! Check out MomsRising’s Mother’s Day video you can customize and send your mom (or to yourself!). Check it out here: http://momdance.com

Every year, MomsRising comes up with a creative way to tell Mom she’s the best. This year, the inspiration came from all the cool dances we’ve seen (and, yes, maybe tried). Everything from a healthy food Harlem Shake (with a real Harlem Shake dancer) to a fair pay fandango is in there. It’s a lot of fun!

Check it out and let us know what you think! Tweet @MomsRising or leave a comment right here. Thank you!

And BIG thanks to all those who are sharing it! Here are some other sites where you can find the #momdance:

Working Families Flexibility Act is an Oxymoron

This blog post originally appeared in 9to5.org.

Much like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the falsely cloaked Working Families Flexibility Act (HR 1406) would hurt, not help, families. The Working Families Flexibility Act, a true misnomer, would in reality ensure workers have less time, less flexibility and less money.

This anti-family proposal would force workers to spend more time away from their families in exchange for possibly getting to spend time later with their families. Under this proposal, the employer, not the employee, determines when earned comp time can be used.

In other words, a low-wage working mother could be forced to work 50 hours one week during Spring Break when her children are off from school and in exchange for the overtime work get 10 hours off another week when they are back in school. This may be flexibility for the employer, but it would cost the employee extra money for childcare, less money in overtime earnings and less time with her family.

Actually, Failing Our Children Is What’s Unflippingbelieveable

A few weeks ago, Melissa Harris-Perry appeared in a “Lean Forward” promotional ad for MSNBC and said:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.

What’s Wrong with Comp Time? Ask Government Workers

This week, Martha Roby (R-AL) will introduce the same discredited comp time bill that leaders in her party have been pushing for years. Misleadingly titled “The Working Families Flexibility Act,” HR 1406 would permit private sector employers to offer compensation time in lieu of overtime pay to their hourly work force.

At first glance the idea seems great: flexible time, family friendly. What’s not to love?

Public sector workers can answer this question.  In 1985, Congress voted to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allowing government employers to offer comp time in lieu of overtime pay.  Family and flexibility had nothing to do with it:  the bill was framed as a cost-savings measure for cash strapped government agencies. The results:  longer work hours and less pay for America’s families.

Eric Cantor’s New Plan Would Cost Workers Time, Flexibility and Money

Cross-posted from the Family Values @ Work Blog.

Listen up, working moms and dads:  Rep. Eric Cantor has a deal for you – more time to spend with your family! What’s not to like?

Except for one hitch: You get to spend more time with your family only after you’ve been forced to spend more time at work away from your family. And your boss gets to decide when you take that extra time you’ve earned.

After some reflection on why women have deserted the Republican Party, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave a speech laying out the GOP plan to “Make Life Work” for working families.

Enter the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Cantor and his Tea Party colleague Rep. Martha Roby. Instead of being paid time and a half for overtime, workers may be offered comp time – a paid hour and a half off in the future in exchange for an extra hour on the job this week.

Need to go to your kid’s school play? Take your dad to the doctor? Heck – you could even save time for when the baby is born. Whatever you like.

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