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May 14, 2018

5/11/18
(Montpelier) - Today at one o’clock Governor Scott signed H.294, a new law prohibiting inquiries about salary history.  

It prohibits employers from requesting salary history of prospective employees or their current or former employers, requiring the prospective employees’ prior salary history meet minimum or maximum criteria, and determining whether to interview a prospective employee based on their current or past compensation.  If the prospective employee voluntarily discloses previous or current compensation in the hiring process, the employer, once they offer the job, can seek to confirm that information. In addition, employers may inquire about salary expectations or requirements, and provide information about the position’s salary and compensation.

At the signing, Governor Scott, addressing the legislation as a workforce initiative, remarked, “This important piece of legislation will allow workers who have suffered from lower wages due to gender, race, or other forms of discrimination an opportunity to get out of the pay gap cycle, and receive equal pay for equal work.  For those who have been held back by their pay history, the legislation opens the door to new opportunities.  This will prevent hiring equally skilled or experienced employees at different rates simply because one person was paid more  in a previous job. Prior to this bill, low wage workers could be held back from climbing the economic ladder, because they were required to reveal their past wages when applying for this new position.”

Cary Brown, Executive Director of Vermont Commission on Women, provided testimony in both the House and the Senate on this bill and its relationship to the gender wage gap. She stated, “When the pay at a new job is based on the pay at an old job, this can force women, and especially women of color, to carry pay discrepancies with them from job to job.  A pay disparity early on can haunt a woman for her entire career.”

April 2, 2018

Equal Pay Day’s date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year due to the gender wage gap.

The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW), the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW) invite the public to join this annual gathering of advocates at the State House the morning of Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 10th, to help bring attention to the gender wage gap.
 
Upon opening of the day’s legislative session, projected to be 10:30 a.m., a resolution designating it Equal Pay Day in Vermont will be read in the House, put forth by lead sponsor Representative Mollie Burke and other policymakers, and observed by advocates (like you) dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap.  

At noon Governor Scott will sign an Equal Pay Day proclamation in his ceremonial office.  This event will feature several speakers, including Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, UVM's Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Marilyn Grunewald, BPW Parliamentarian, and Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director.
 
Change The Story VT (CTS) along with Vermont Business and Professional Women invite policy makers and guests to enjoy coffee in the cafeteria after lunch to mark Equal Pay Day and share information about how the gender wage gap impacts Vermonters. CTS partner Vermont Works for Women will provide their delicious Peanut Butter Bars by suggested wage gap-related donation.
 
We’re excited to be joined in the State House by advocates participating in the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s annual Legislative Day! 
 
Interested in joining us?  We’ve love to have you!  RSVPs to VCW.info@vermont.gov are appreciated, but not necessary.

April 2, 2018

In RUTLAND: on Thursday, April 19 from noon – 1:30 p.m. at Community College of Vermont

In St. JOHNSBURY: Tuesday, April 24th from 8-9:30 am at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital

In NEWPORT: Saturday, May 26th from 10 – 11:30 am at the Goodrich Memorial library

Choosing not to negotiate is leaving some serious money on the table. Over 50% of women say they are apprehensive about negotiating and only 30% of women consistently negotiate salaries. For many of us, even the thought of negotiating makes us nervous. How much do I ask for? When is the best time to do it? What if I don't feel like I deserve more? Let's answer these questions and more! This workshop is designed to teach you how to negotiate with confidence. We'll make sure you avoid the traps many of us fall into and leave plenty of time for practice.  Vermont Commission on Women's workshops are sponsored by the New England Women’s Policy Initiative and will be facilitated by Lindsey Lathrop, Career Coach at FromWithin Coaching.

March 20, 2018

Brattleboro’s Emilie Kornheiser kicks off the Vermont Commission on Women’s (VCW) statewide community listening project at the River Garden this Friday, as part of Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers noontime Brown Bag Lunch series.  Her discussion, “Women and the Economy,” will center on the place, needs, and strengths of women in Brattleboro.  This event is FREE and open to the public.  Thoughts and comments will help shape VCW’s policy work for women and families.  More info at strollingoftheheifers.com/calendar/commission-on-women/.

Commissioner Kornheiser was appointed to serve VCW in 2017 by Speaker of the House, Mitzi Johnson. She is currently the Early Childhood Action Plan Director with Building Bright Futures, improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of services for families with children under age  six in the areas of health, early care, and education.  Prior to this position, she worked with Promise Communities for the State of Vermont, supporting communities to identify and achieve shared outcomes for young children and families. Before transitioning to local service, she was an international development consultant,  strategizing, training, brokering, and evaluating partnerships between private corporations and government agencies to meet humanitarian and community development goals. She has worked overseas promoting democracy and supporting small business development, in various positions at community-based organizations serving vulnerable populations throughout Vermont, and started her own small business in Brattleboro.  She is Vice President of the board of the Brattleboro Food Coop, a town meeting representative, and a founding member of the Windham County Action Network.

Vermont Commission on Women is a non-partisan state commission working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls since 1964. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from twenty-seven organizations concerned with women's issues guide VCW's public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts.  For more information, please visit women.vermont.gov.
 

March 12, 2018

Ensuring Vermont has enough high-quality, affordable child care is essential to supporting gender equality in the workplace, according to a new report co-authored by Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) and the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW). The report outlines policy recommendations—including increasing investments in Vermont’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program and passing paid family leave—as key strategies to supporting working women and their families.

The report, “Women, Work, and Child Care,” was released during a press conference on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018) at a Williston child care center featuring remarks from LGK, VCW, Vermont Works for Women, a child care program director and a working mom. The report is available online here: http://bit.ly/VT-women-work-childcare.

“We need to level the playing field for Vermont women when it comes to economic opportunity and that means ensuring women have the supports they need to stay and thrive in the workforce,” said LGK Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire.

LGK’s February 2018 Stalled at the Start report found that more than half of Vermont infants and toddlers likely to need care don’t have access to any regulated child care programs and 77% don’t have access to high-quality programs.

“While we know some women intentionally make the decision to leave the workforce to care for children, we also know—and research has found—that many women feel like they don’t have a choice in the matter because their families simply can’t find or afford quality child care,” Freedner-Maguire said.

Highly-qualified women are three times more likely than men to leave the workforce when families can’t access quality child care, according to one national study.

“The fact is that women still earn less than men for doing the very same work. In Vermont, women earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. It’s precisely because women earn less that it makes economic sense in many families for women to drop out of the workforce when quality child care is unavailable or unaffordable,” said Marybeth Redmond, a VCW commissioner.

When women leave the workforce to look after their young children, the decision not only impacts their family’s immediate economic stability but also their long-term economic situation, according to the report. For example, a woman earning Vermont’s median income of $56,990 would face a projected loss of $610,050 over her lifetime if she had or adopted a child at age 35 and remained out of the workforce until the child was eligible to enroll in kindergarten.

Jen Oldham, executive director of Vermont Works for Women, emphasized how lack of access to quality, affordable child care is particularly challenging for single mothers and low-income families. 

“According to the US Census Bureau, 13% of all Vermont families with young children under 5 years old have an income below the poverty line, but for women-headed, single-parent households, this number jumps to 44.6%. Women who don’t have access to quality, affordable child care and paid leave after starting a family are more likely to be locked in a cycle of poverty,” Oldham said.

Trisha Scharf, owner and director of Children Unlimited in Williston where the March 8 press conference was held, noted that Vermont’s early care and learning workforce is made up largely of women who are barely making ends meet and struggling to support their own families. The median annual income for child care workers in Vermont is about $25,000, often without benefits—which is not a livable wage.

“Child care providers are a crucial part of Vermont’s economy. The work we do allows parents to go to work, support their families, and pay taxes to help build and support the infrastructure of our state,” Scharf said. “And, most importantly, we are literally building the brains of Vermont’s future workforce. But without available, high quality, affordable child care, we are not going to be able to keep this future workforce in our state.”

Victoria Marini, whose daughter attends Scharf’s program, said she got on child care program waitlists before she even told her mother she was pregnant. After a five-and-a-half month unpaid maternity leave, during which time her family went into debt, Marini said she felt lucky to find a space at Children Unlimited.

“When my daughter grows up, I want her to be able to make choices about work and family without the barriers working women and their families face today,” Marini said.

On Wednesday, March 14, hundreds of early childhood advocates will gather at the State House for Early Childhood Day at the Legislature to ask their legislators to invest in Vermont’s youngest children and their families.

“As Vermont faces an aging population and shrinking workforce, we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to support working parents with young children. We can't afford to keep leaving women behind by failing to provide families with the supports they need to stay and thrive in Vermont’s workforce,” Freedner-Maguire said.

About Let’s Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids is a statewide public awareness and advocacy campaign designed to educate the public about the need for more high-quality, affordable child care in Vermont and to build public will for sustainable increased public investments in high-quality, affordable child care to better support our children, families, communities and economy. Let’s Grow Kids is an initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, a privately funded nonprofit whose mission is to ensure all Vermont families have affordable access to high-quality child care by 2025. Learn more at www.letsgrowkids.org.

About the Vermont Commission on Women
The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is a non-partisan state commission advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women’s issues guide VCW’s public education, coalition building and advocacy efforts. VCW offers many services to the public, including a toll-free information and referral service at 800-881-1561 and many publications, including the handbook The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont. For more information, please visit www.women.vermont.gov.

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