HERvotes Blog Carnival: Protecting Unemployment Benefits

by Hannah Gordon, Feminist Majority Foundation

Welcome to the seventh #HERvotes blog carnival on the need to protect women and employment during these tough economic times, with a focus on the importance of extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) before the December 31st deadline.

It is critical that Congress acts before the end of this calendar year to renew federal UI.  The loss of this lifeline will hurt over 6 million people and their families who stand to lose their benefits during 2012.

If Congress fails to extend the benefits, women will suffer.  According to Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist for the Department of Labor, 2.2 million women will lose their benefits if UI is not extended.  Many others will be affected too, including 500,000 Latinos and 400,000 Latinas, 1.2 million African Americans (including 500,000 African American women), and millions of children.

UI must be extended in order to protect American families.  1.8 million struggling families will be immediately kept afloat.  This will have a positive impact on our overall economy too; studies show that every $1 spent on unemployment insurance stimulates $2 in growth in the U.S. economy.

Extending unemployment insurance must be a vital priority for Congress.  For many American families and many American women, the protection of their benefits is crucial.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Let’s spread the word and make sure Congress hears our voices.

The blog posts below include personal stories and more information on why unemployment insurance is critical.  Happy reading and thanks for joining in the fight to protect women’s economic welfare.

#HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election.  We are very excited HERvotes is growing in membership and reaching millions of people.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Congress Must Protect the Lifeline Women and Families Depend On- Vicki Shabo, National Partnership for Women and Families

A Day Of Thanks & Of Aspiration: No Child Should Be Hungry On Thanksgiving, Or On Any Day – Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom’sRising.org

No Time for Games: Extend Unemployment Insurance- Katie Kopania, Say It Sister- NOW’s Blog for Equality

The Cycle of Abuse and Financial Security- Lauren Levine, Jewish Women International

Looking for Jobs that Don’t Exist Is Hard Work – Anna McClure, National Women’s Law Center

Latinas call on Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance Set to Expire on Dec 31- Natalie D. Camastra,  National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

 Extend Unemployment Insurance!- Heather Munro Prescott, Knitting Clio

At the Edge-Emily Alfano, National Council of Jewish Women

Women and Families Need Unemployment Benefits Extended Now!- Carol Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

I may lose my home because I can’t find work-  Juli from Wisconsin, unemployedworkers.org

I Want My Pay Equity-  Emmily Bristol, Sin City Siren

Women and Unemployment-  Dren

Women, Black Workers Hard Hit By Attacks on Public Employees- Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

Even in a Recession, Flex Makes (Dollars and) Sense- Nanette Fondas, MomsRising.org

Unemployment Insurance in the 1930s and Today- Michael J. Wilson

And Now, About Those Mega-Rich Alleged Job Creators…- Lily Eskelsen, National Education Association

Congress Should Act Now to Extend Unemployment Insurance- Beth Scott, American Association of University Women

The 99% and Our Homes- Nancy Wilberg-Ricks, National Council of La Raza

Small Steps Forward in Job Gains, But Not Enough to Close Gender Gap- Caroline Hopper, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Unemployment and Taxes- Andrew Brusnahan, UnemployedWoman.com

I Am ‘Occupying’ D.C. for My Children and Future Generations- Linda Evans

When My Husband Faced Unemployment- Karoline, Mom’s Rising

Unemployment Insurance is the LEAST We Can Offer Working Families- Elisanta “Lisa” Batista

Without Unemployment Insurance, My Family Would Have To Choose Which Bills to PayTeresa “Tigger” Rey, Mom’s Rising

Good Education. Good experience. Still Unemployed- Theresa Witt

Holiday Fear- Christy Jones, American Association of University Women

Unemployment, Congress, and People Like Me- Danielle Jackson, National Women’s Law Center

The Pathways Back to Work Act: A Must-Pass Piece of Legislation for Women- Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

Happy Holidays, Congress! It’s Time to Extend UI- Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

“No Christmas for Congress” Unless UI is Extended- Anna McClure, National Women’s Law Center

November’s Drop in Unemployment News Leaves Vulnerable Groups Behind- Abby Lane, National Women’s Law Center

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance- YWCA USA

Navigating Unemployment- Jen, Mom’s Rising

Women, the Economy, and Unemployment Insurance- Angel Savoy, Metro DC Chapter, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Unemployment Insurance, Good For People, Good For Country- Sherry Saudners, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Women and the Unemployment Crisis- National Association of Social Workers

Surviving a Corporate War on the Middle Class- Verlene Jones, Seattle Washington, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Extend Unemployment Benefits, But Don’t Stop There- Lindsay Beyerstein, Ms. Magazine Blog

Unemployed Blogger Finds Humor In Rich/Poor Divide- Claire Gordon, AOL.com

Tough Job Market for Recent College Grads- Corrina Beall, Feminist Majority Foundation

Women, Sexism, Racism & the Economy: Why Congress Needs to Reauthorize Unemployment Insurance- The Opinioness of the World

Women and Families Need Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extended Now!

By Carol Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Executive Director

Today I will be joining unemployed workers, members of labor unions, community activists and members of the religious community on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in a prayer vigil urging Congress to take action before December 31st to extend unemployment benefits. Visits to Congressional offices in DC and throughout the country will also be taking place by activists who will be imploring their representatives to “Do the Right Thing”   It is the right thing for the economy, for the country and for individual Americans who are without work through no fault of their own.

The AFL-CIO has just released a web page with the individual stories of some of the unemployed so Congress can see and hear their situation and their struggles – they are not just a statistic.

Here are a few examples:

Juli (Newmanstown, PA) :

“I just lost my job on Friday.  Without unemployment, I have no way to feed my two sons, to pay our rent, to try and find another job.  Our country has tough choices to make, but this should be easy.  Our own country and people should be the top priority of our government so let’s stop bleeding trillions of dollars in pointless, endless wars in the middle  east and tax the people and corporations who have the most money and don’t pay at all.”

 Rose (Erial, NJ):

 “I have worked all my life, except for two years periods where I attended school and potty trained my kids. After twenty years of working and never collecting unemployment, I developed a hernia and was unable to continue in my present job.  I have no medical insurance, and my unemployment disqualifies me from food stamps.  Without my unemployment I don’t know what I will do, or where I will go.  I am a full-time student seeking work and working towards a degree. I have done all I’m supposed to do, can’t congress do its job?”

 To see personal stories from members from the Coalition of Labor Union Women please check out today’s HerVotes Blog Carnival.

In addressing how unemployment impacts families, the National Employment Law Project’s Briefing Paper  “Hanging On By a Thread” states….”the number of people protected against destitution has increased nearly sevenfold since 2007 thanks to the unemployment program. They go onto say..”the federal investment in unemployment benefits has an immediate payoff for those kept out of poverty, but it also produces long-term dividends for children and families given the social costs associated with child poverty and severe economic hardship.  Children who experience economic hardship are more likely to drop out of school, suffer from poor health, and experience difficulty maintaining stable employment as adults. The National Center for Children in Poverty has documented the invaluable role that economic stability plays in laying the groundwork for later school achievement, economic productivity, and responsible citizenship.”

And how are women doing in this economic crisis – not good at all.

According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center – women lost 46,000 jobs from December 2007 – June 2009 while men gained 1.26 million.

Over the course of the recovery, women’s overall unemployment increased from 7.7 to 7.8 percent.

Heavy job losses in public sector employment have disproportionately affected women. While women represented just over half (57.2 percent) of the public workforce at the end of the recession, they lost a disproportionately high number of jobs there. Between June 2009 and October 2011 women lost 359,000 public sector jobs, 63.9 percent of all public sector jobs lost.

So what is Congress waiting for – this should be a no- brainer!!  Extend Unemployment Insurance benefits now and while you are at it how about passing the American Jobs Act! We want to work – how about a little help!!

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Surviving a Corporate War on the Middle Class

By Verlene Jones, Seattle Washington, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Washington State President,  verlenejazz@msn.com

I am a 57 year old black woman who has worked consistently all my life until being laid off from my job in April of 2009.

The years of hard work have taken a toll on my body and I am now faced with multiple physical limitations.

I apply for jobs weekly on a regular basis and have not been able to get past the first interview to be hired for employment.  I now have no health care and my unemployment insurance is the only thing keeping me from total financial devastation.

Extending the unemployment benefits is the right thing to do.  I am not asking for a hand out, I am asking for a return on the 43 years of making contributions to unemployment to keep me going through an economic down turn that has been imposed upon me through no fault of my own.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.


The new iPhone is promoting anti-choice extremism.

by Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas

News broke on Raw Story earlier this week that Siri, the new iPhone voice assistant, is directing women to anti-abortion pregnancy “crisis” centers in Washington, D.C., when they ask where to get an abortion. When users in New York City ask, Siri says she can’t find any abortion clinics. When a user asked her why she is anti-abortion, she replied, “I just am.”

Siri won’t help you find an abortion clinic or even where to get emergency contraception, but she will help you find a strip club, an escort service, and where you might be able to buy marijuana.

This is a serious problem–one that lots of people are talking about today. And Apple needs to fix it. 

That’s why I created a petition to Apple CEO Tim Cook on SignOn.org, which says:

Apple: Stop promoting anti-choice extremists. If a user asks for family planning services, they should be directed to a group that offers full services, like Planned Parenthood—not to a hard-right clinic with an extremist agenda.

In just a few hours more than 7400 people have signed it. Here’s some of what they’re saying:

Kiril Z. from Philadelphia

Also, if not for progress, then note that Google’s Voice Search immediately got many useful results without making comments on them. Keep up with the competition maybe?

Sarah from Brooklyn
When I ask Siri to find me places for family planning not one of the 5 Planned Parenthood clinics is listed, among those that appear are individuals and church-based groups.

Jen in North Carolina

This is ridiculous and hopefully a situation that will be fixed. Crisis centers should only be voiced if a person asks for them. Really? Strip clubs but not planned parenthood?

Whatever the reason for this–whether its bad programming or by design–Apple needs to listen to its customers and act quickly.

Apple works hard to maintain its brand as a progressive company. Earlier this summer, they cut ties with a right-wing Christian network when customers complained that the network was funding anti-gay extremism.

If enough of us speak out, we can get the to act on this too. If you haven’t yet, sign the petition and pass it on to your friends:


Birth Control Under Attack

by Debra Ness, President, National Partnership for Women and Families

Anti-choice extremists are trying to undermine women’s right to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The health reform law covers preventive services, including birth control, without copays, deductibles or other added cost. For most women of reproductive age, contraception and birth control are the care they need most, the care they get most regularly, and their main reason for interacting with health providers, so this is one of the greatest benefits to women from the new law.

We were thrilled in August when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed and announced that women will have access to all approved contraceptive methods without co-pays or added cost under the Affordable Care Act.

But all women need this coverage. The administration included an unfair, broad — and potentially terribly harmful — exemption for certain religious employers, who would not have to provide coverage for contraception to their employees.

Too much is on the line for these women who rely on insurance to pay for their birth control. That’s why we’re urging President Obama to do what’s right for women’s health — to remove this religious refusal provision and not leave any women behind.

Tell President Obama that all women need access to contraception without co-pays or added cost, including women who work for religious employers!

Let’s not leave any woman to fend for herself.

Cross-posted with National Partnership for Women and Families

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Losing My Religion: Catholic Bishops Attack Reproductive Rights, Hoping to Undermine Birth Control Coverage

by Megan Kearns, Opinioness of the World

As an atheist who was born Catholic, I’m all too aware of the Catholic Church’s ridiculous no birth control stance. While the U.S. contains far more religiosity in its laws and customs than many of us may realize or admit, politicians and lobbyists often forget one crucial thing. The separation of church and state. But the church continually invades politics and healthcare. And of course attacks reproductive rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been doing some hardcore lobbying to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expand a clause in the Affordable Care Act to allow any (that’s right any) religious institution to opt-out of birth control coverage. A fucking “conscience clause.” Lovely.

Is there a conscience clause for Viagara or Cialis? Nope. Cause the Catholic Church, an entity run by old white men, doesn’t care about controlling men’s reproduction. Only women’s.

The fabulous Abigail Collazzo, Fem2.0 Editor, argues:

“You know what violates my religious beliefs? Unjust war. Health insurance that covers Viagra but not abortion. Tax breaks for criminals. Punitive jail sentences for drug addicts who need treatment and counseling. The death penalty. Among many, many other things. But I don’t see anyone calling for me not to have to pay the taxes that pay for any of those things.”

“The thing is though, I don’t remember voting for the Catholic Church to be President of the United States.  Frankly, I don’t even recall seeing them on the ballot.”

It boggles my mind why the hell the Catholic Church thinks it possesses any right to deny healthcare. Shouldn’t medical decisions occur between a patient and their doctor? Absolutely (rhetorical question, folks).

When people control their reproductive health, they lead healthier and happier lives. Contraception is a tool of empowerment. It allows people to take charge of their bodies and sexuality; deciding if and when they want to have children.

Almost all women use birth control. More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. Out of the 43 million women who are fertile, sexually active and not looking to get pregnant, 89% use birth control. But birth control affects people from various incomes differently. Denying coverage would strain peoples’ pockets.

If the Obama Administration listens to the bishops, 6 million people would be affected.  It would impact students, teachers, social workers, nurses, admin staff and their families at religiously affiliated schools, universities and hospitals. As Kim Gandy, former NOW President, writes at Ms. Magazine and HERVotes:

“…regardless of the religious beliefs of those employees and students.”

The Catholic Church wants to mandate what they constitute as “morality.” But what about my morality? What about quality healthcare? What about access to abortion and contraception? Gay marriage and adoption? Laws protecting domestic violence survivors? Evolution not creationism taught in schools? Comprehensive sex ed? No, the Catholic Church doesn’t give a shit about that kind of morality.

While President Obama is pro-choice, he has bent to the will of the anti-choice movement too many times. Responding to the shock over the Obama administration contemplating “caving to the anti-choice movement,” Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check writes:

“It is disturbing.  But it is also completely predictable because it has happened repeatedly. Think Stupak Amendment executive order; think Nelson Amendment to the health care reform bill in the Senate.  Think about the President’s complete 180 on the Hyde Amendment. Think about the HHS regs that voluntarily expanded the denial of coverage of abortion care, applying the Stupak Amendment to exchanges, even though this was not required by law. Think of Obama’s silence in the face of clinic violence and the death of Dr. Tiller.  Think about the continued ab-only money and the fact that our international funding is still going to discredited programs.  I could go on but will stop there because it is all too depressing.”

Um remind me again…don’t we have separation of church and state?! Hopefully Obama remembers that too. Ugh.

This post is part of the HERVotes Blog Carnival: Women v. The Bishops. Sign the petition to ask President Obama to support birth control coverage. Follow the #bcrefusal and #HERVotes tweets.