ChoiceWords Blog

Posts Tagged: workplace rights

This is How You Build an Intersectional Reproductive Justice Movement

  We often criticize, push, and urge activist movements around us to go further, to be more intersectional. It’s not negativity that spurs this criticism; intersectionality is just an important practice that asks more of movements that are trying to build a better, fairer future. But when we critically engage with social justice movements we shouldn’t forget that people are already doing the kind of work that we imagine when we call for more comprehensive activism. Looking to them can inspire and sustain us. If you want to see an intersectional, reproductive justice movement at work, then look no further than the coalition of organizations who’ve worked to realize the farmworker bill of rights for over 40,000 laborers in Southern California. The bill of rights, inspired in part by the explosion of protests for workers’ rights in the past year, is… Read more »

Earth Day and Reproductive Justice

As many of you know, yesterday was Earth Day. Some of us may celebrate by making a pledge to reduce waste, or to avoid driving, or plant a tree. But what isn’t usually on our mind on Earth Day is how Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice are connected. As RJ advocates, we should look to any opportunity to expand our fight beyond the traditional issues and include other social justice issues that affect our communities. So you might be asking, how does Environmental Justice relate to RJ? The answer lies first in how our environment is linked to our health. Issues such as pollution can directly impact health, including reproductive health. And in addition to that, women and children are often more susceptible to the effects of toxins in the… Read more »

Kansas Regressing on LGBT Workplace Protections

This past Tuesday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order that removed workplace protections from being harassed, discriminated against, or fired based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The original order that extended those protections was signed in 2007 by former Governor Kathleen Sebelius. The protections included in the original order were fairly narrow in scope, and rarely enforced. As with any executive order, there are limits to what can be done. This particular order applied only to government agencies under direct control of the governor, affecting roughly 25,000 people. These people are important, and removing workplace protections may affect the job status of some. But, in a time when states are expanding protections for people, this move flies in the face of progress. There are few examples of… Read more »

Girls Can Fix Computers, Too

Going back to school for me also means going back to work. Separate from my writing, I also work at a local computing help desk. My coworkers and I work under an overarching Information Technology department and on the day-to-day, we assist clients with account issues, software troubles and general computer problems. Many of my coworkers want to have a career in a similar field—me, not so much—and our office is pretty evenly split with men and women, although the highest-ranking staff members are mostly men. However, despite the diversity of people that I work with, there’s a large stigma against women in IT. Such a stigma, in fact, that I wrote a research paper for one of my classes on the phenomenon. Here’s the down and dirty: the help… Read more »

To Shop or Not to Shop?

With Thanksgiving only a week away, people are already starting to talk about their opinions on Black Friday. Much has been said about Black Friday shopping from people on both sides of the issue. There are some people who would prefer that we restrict whether stores can be open on Thanksgiving day or the next day, saying people deserve to have that time off of work. There are others who insist that Black Friday is a great day for our economy, touting record numbers of sales that day. Both sides have legitimate arguments, so let’s take a look at the reasons given for each position. Reasons not to Shop 1. Consumerism There has been a movement to make Thanksgiving and Black Friday two days where it is socially unacceptable to… Read more »

Young, Pregnant, and At Work

Written by Kelsey Ryland, URGE Law & Policy Fellow The Supreme Court will hear the case of Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service (UPS) on December 3.  Kadijah wrote about the case for us, but in short: Ms. Young, a pregnant UPS employee, was instructed by her doctor to request light duty, but UPS refused to accommodate her request. UPS routinely accommodates other workers with injuries or other limitations. The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act should protect workers in this situation, but two lower courts have supported UPS. Now the Supreme Court will hear the case and determine whether or not the Pregnancy Discrimination Act has enough force to protect pregnant workers. Protecting pregnant workers is a reproductive justice issue that hugely impacts young people. This isn’t the 1950s anymore and most… Read more »

All About Young vs. United Parcel Service

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Young vs. United Parcel Service to determine the extent  to which employers have to provide work accommodations for pregnant women. Peggy Young, a former UPS package delivery driver, became pregnant after a succesful in vitro fertilization. Young requested a lighter assignment due to her doctor’s recommendation that she lift objects weighing no more than twenty pounds. On the other hand, UPS’ policy requires employees to lift up to seventy pounds. Her request was denied by the occupational health manager  because her pregnancy did not fall within the jurisdiction of UPS’s policy for receiving alternate work assignments. Because the request was denied, she was forced to take unpaid leave with the loss of health care benefits provided by the company. Upon returning to work… Read more »

Sexual Harassment in the Lives of Working Students

by Moira Bowman, Deputy Director, Forward Together I saved up money to go to college by working in restaurants–and continued working at restaurants my first year of school. Some days I sat fancy people at fancy tables and served them fancy food and cocktails. Other days, I slung what felt like hundreds of plates of deep fried fish cozied up to big steak fries and counted the hours till I could shower off the coat of grease from my face and arms. I haven’t thought back on those experiences for many years–but recently my organization, Forward Together, began working on a research project in collaboration with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) to look at experiences of sexual harassment and assault in the restaurant industry.  And I’ve been taken off guard at… Read more »

Gender, Race and the Executive Order for Equal Pay

There’s been a lot of talk about equal pay and the gender wage gap the past week and half. It was widely reported last week and the days leading up to it, that President Obama would sign an executive order that would ensure equal pay for a large sector of the workforce. According to NPR, the executive order will 1) prevent federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries with each other and 2) federal contractors would also be forced to give the Labor Department data about their employees’ pay along with their race and gender, under new rules the president is instructing the agency to adopt. This executive order is important. The gender wage gap exists and it’s hurting a lot of women and families. This order… Read more »

Shanesha Taylor: The Case of Punishing the Poor

With the reproductive justice movement, the discussion often gets bogged down in life or death rhetoric. Pro-choice advocates also assume the fight is over as long as Roe V. Wade is in place. We have abortion clinics, Obamacare allows for insurance to cover contraceptives, and women have the right to vote. However, there’s a huge difference between what the laws allow and the access that is given. Abortion restriction laws have sweeping effects for low-income, women of color who struggle to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. The case of Shanesha Taylor is more important than ever. News broke out earlier this week of Shanesha Taylor, a mother of two being arrested for child abuse charges. Her two children have been taken into the custody… Read more »