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Pelosi's WA Visit Prompts Focus on Family Issues, Women's Pay Equity

PHOTO: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brought ideas about updating Washington workplaces to fit modern families' priorities to Seattle this week. Photo courtesy EOI.
PHOTO: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brought ideas about updating Washington workplaces to fit modern families' priorities to Seattle this week. Photo courtesy EOI.
November 27, 2013

SEATTLE - This has been a big week in Washington politics, with both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the stump in Seattle, fund-raising for Democratic candidates.

Pelosi, D-Calif., left behind some big ideas for Washington families to consider - including a campaign called "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." It combines the issues of equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and access to affordable child care - all of which affect economic and social health.

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, who attended Pelosi's presentation, said equal pay and 21st-century workplace policies will help drive the state's economy.

"Part of the problem is, even if you're a business and you want people to come and buy your stuff, there aren't enough people who are earning a good enough income now to be able to go buy your cars, to go buy your services," said Jinkins. "That's the kind of approach we need to be thinking about."

Jinkins said she's working with the Washington Work and Family Coalition on a paid sick leave bill for the next legislative session. Pelosi says she has combined the three priorities because 40 percent of working women are now their family's primary breadwinner, and yet public policies in many areas don't support balancing work and family life, either for women or men.

Kristin Bennett, with the group MomsRising, told the crowd her husband quit his full-time job and now works part-time to help with their children and allow her to work, too. She said many young families are making similar trade-offs, because child-care costs can be higher than rent or a house payment.

"I have three kids, they're all under the age of 10, and two of them in preschool," she said, "It's a whole other ballgame. It's really expensive and hard to find good care, and it's so valuable."

The Economic Opportunity Institute reports that Washington is among the top 10 states for highest child-care costs. Currently, working women earn about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA