Family Values @ Work

Stop the Attack on the Women’s Bureau

Stop the Attack on the Women’s Bureau

June 7, 2017

By Wendy Chun-Hoon

Today, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta heads to the Hill to defend the Trump Administration’s proposed 20% cut to the US Department of Labor’s FY18 budget. As part of these cuts, the Administration aims to all but wipe out the Women’s Bureau – the sole federal agency charged with advocating for working women and for the economic security of women and their families.

Despite singing its praises in a blog published yesterday celebrating the Women’s Bureau’s 97th anniversary, the Administration is calling for a 75% cut to the Bureau’s budget, from $11.5M down to just under three, including a complete dismantling of all ten of its regional offices. In his budget statement, Secretary Acosta also unilaterally reduces the Bureau’s mission from a duty to formulate standards and policies that promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment to a mere research function.

While the Women’s Bureau’s line item constitutes less than one percent of the Department’s total budget, its impact for working women has been enormous. This small agency has worked on high priority policy issues such as paid leave and earned sick time, as well as highlighting the needs of women veterans and women in the trades. The Women’s Bureau has been at the forefront of addressing equal pay and ensuring breastfeeding and pregnancy accommodations. Issues that the Bureau once raised as “women’s issues” have become the standard for all workers today.

In just the past few years alone, the Women’s Bureau has updated both the Women’s Employment Rights Guide, which explains the rights and protections of all major federal laws and many state laws impacting women while working, when facing unemployment or when preparing for retirement (now available for free as an e-book on Amazon), and the Apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity regulations to improve the participation rates of women and other under-represented populations in apprenticeships.  Finally, since 2014, the Bureau has awarded more than $3 million through its Paid Leave Analysis Grant Program to 11 states and 6 local jurisdictions to research how to create family and medical leave insurance programs that effectively support working women and their families while promoting their attachment, retention and advancement in the labor force.  In doing so, the Women’s Bureau has propelled forward the conversation about paid leave in our country.

For all the lip service President Trump has given to job creation and security for working women (and men), including his attempt at a meager paid parental leave proposal, the proposed dismantling of the Women’s Bureau sends a clear message to the millions of working women whose opportunity, safety and advancement hang in the balance every day that their welfare is of no concern to this president. This proposal goes hand-in-hand in hand with the rest of the budget, which would savage women and their families with drastic cuts to health care, child care, nutrition and other essential programs.

More than 250 organizations and individuals have signed a letter working to stop this attack. Please join us!

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