I worked 22 hours a week. I had full-benefits, including healthcare, one week paid time off, partially paid maternity leave, 401K, employee stock program, and regularly offered paid training resource opportunities. What mom wouldn't want a job like that? I got to go be an adult, contribute to our household finances, and could still feel like I was there for my kids whenever they needed me. The job itself might not have been the career I would have chosen for myself, but there was no arguing with the awesome way it let me combine income production and child rearing.
And then in 2010 it all came to an end. I won't go into the minute details here, you can read all about in a previous post: My Job Loss, A personal view from the frontlines of the child care crisis . The long and short of it was that we got a new (male) boss who, unlike our previous (female) boss, hated part-timers. Or at least that was the rumor. The supposed word on the street was that he had been overheard in meetings complaining that part-timers made him mad because he hated having to juggle their schedules and that if they were part-time it meant they weren't truly committed to the company. (As a side note, it would not shock me if his wife was a stay at home mom, because only by being truly alleviated of all reproductive labor (housework, appointments, sick kids, errands, food preparation) could you be blind to the need for part-time work.
And so I was given a choice: I could work from 8:30-6:30 or 6:45 four days a week plus Saturday mornings, or I could resign. The fact that they were offering me another position meant they weren't "technically" firing me. With two children, and child care needs extending beyond the typical childcare day, working full time wasn't exactly an option. We tightened the purse strings as far as they would go and I resigned.
I had already been an advocate for a healthy work/family balance after writing my master's thesis on the steep increase of stay-at-home mothers in America between 1995 and 2000. But in 2012 I launched this blog, The Two-Penny Soapbox, to discuss the things I saw around me in my day-to-day life that were related to the work/family balance. But after a few years of shouting from my soapbox into the blogosphere (yes, that is an actual word), I decided it was time to do more than talk the talk (don't worry, I will never give up shouting from my soapbox), it was time to get up and walk the walk.
Enter: 9 to 5
For me, when I decided to give time to making real change in the work/family balance there was only ever one choice. The national organization, 9 to 5, was founded in 1973 and has gifted working families with legislation like The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, The Family Medical Leave Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in addition to other wins related to increasing minimum wage and decreasing sexual harassment. With a 40+ year history of winning justice for working women (and all families) it was obvious where I wanted to put my time in. As it states in their brochure, "if you are feisty, feel empowered (or want to be), fed up, or all three" then you should join up.
And lucky for me I happened to get in touch with them just in time for their membership drive, which meant memberships were discounted. Awesome, I can help out without breaking our budget! Things were getting better and better.
I put my sassy boots on and headed on over to the membership drive kick-off meeting where I got to meet some phenomenal women, who I am looking forward to getting to know very much. I also got to see what is on their agenda this year, which from the Two-Penny Soapbox's opinion is some pretty inspired stuff.
They are looking at creating an insurance program to pair with the Family Medical Leave act in order to ensure "employees in Colorado are able to provide critical care for themselves and their families without risking their financial stability." They are also looking at legislation for Parental Involvement, ensuring "protected leave when parents must miss work to attend school activities." And lastly, they are continuing the fight to bridge the pay gap between men and women.
So, as you can see, EVERYTHING that the Two-Penny Soapbox stands for! Sign me up!!
And now, dear readers I urge you to take advantage of their current membership drive.
There is no better time to band together and fight for change. Together, 9 to 5 and The Two-Penny Soapbox are doing the important work of changing hearts and minds and that can only be done with a unified voice that includes you. So please, please sign up. Even if you just send $5 and do no more than read my blog you are still helping enact change. But, of course if you want to get involved, there are lots of opportunities to do that too (and feel free to tell them Amie sent you).
As always, it is time to stop worrying about Family Values and start Valuing Families.