She has found that in this area progressive women share views with swing voters and Independents; lots of work is needed to spread this tripartisan [sort of] cause across the nation.
Karen has found in the course of her group's canvassing neighborhoods, that working women feel unconnected and isolated. Starbuck's and Walmart don't pay for sick days. "It's all about organizing," she said. "People must consider you empowered."
Then it's possible to fight back.
[an anecdote: Karen's last name was my maiden name. We were both in Boston in the seventies when she founded Nine to Five. I once received a phone call for someone wishing to speak with her, who became worse than crestfallen when I told him he had the wrong Nussbaum.
I rightly thought that she must be a very special person. I have heard more about her through the years, but back in the seventies I remember the anecdote she told about how she became an activist:
She was working as a secretary when someone walked into the roomful of desks and asked, "Isn't anyone here?"
Sometimes anger has good outcomes, as it certainly did in Karen's example.]
Sue's group rose out of the ashes of 9/11--that is, concern for food workers--there are 10 million of them in the United States, which conforms with the statistic she quoted that 75 percent of American families eat out, spending 40 percent of their incomes on it [hard to believe].
Fast foods and liquors are two industries thriving amid the shambles of nearly everything else. One reason may be that their workers accept payment of $8.86 per hour, a bit above the minimum wage. Among these workers homeless people are found.
ROC-United has some eight thousand members in eight cities and is spreading to thirty new states. The group has won many victories, promoting restaurants that grant sick leave to workers, and plans to publish diners' guides listing those that pay sick leave and those that don't.
The group actively goes from restaurant to restaurant trying to persuade managers to grant sick leave, telling them that it will boost the economy.
It is sickening to find out what happens as a result of the denial of sick leave. As one would expect, people earning low wages can't afford to stay home without pay and therefore come to work with extremely contagious conditions including stomach disorders and head colds [hey, watch out for my fettuccini!]
What's even more compelling is that the percentage of restaurant customers who became ill from eating out dropped dramatically, from 18 percent to 2 percent, in a study of restaurants before and after granting sick leave to their workers.
And so there's something in it for all of us, even when opponents, who undoubtedly eat out as much as the rest of us do, label restaurant workers contractors and therefore legally not to be reimbursed beyond the hourly wage.
[more tomorrow, especially about the march to the Capitol.]