U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi visited Philadelphia Friday to push for a Democratic plan designed to boost women’s economic prospects.
The series of bills is aimed at closing the gender wage gap, making child care more affordable, and requiring paid sick and family leave for many private-sector workers.
Pelosi said it is unconscionable that women in full-time jobs are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar made by men.
“You’re going to work for the first three months of the year for free, for free, compared to what he’s doing,” said Pelosi. “Is that fair to your children? To your grandchildren?”
The bills are part of Democrats’ efforts to win over female voters. Legislation aimed at erasing the gender pay gap would bar employers from punishing workers for sharing income information and direct the Department of Labor to boost training on wage disparities. Other proposals would expand the federal tax credit for child care, and require paid leave for many employees who are sick or need to deal with a family emergency.
At the Community College of Philadelphia event, which attracted about 70 people, Pelosi was flanked by local workers such as Onetha McKnight, a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport. Without paid sick days, McKnight said she faces impossible decisions.
“It’s a Catch-22,” she said. “If I miss work, I lose income that I desperately need to pay for my bills and pay for my medication. But if I have to work sick, I may be putting my health and the health of my passengers at risk.”
Critics of mandated paid sick leave say it will cost jobs. With Republicans controlling the House, the Democratic initiative faces an uphill battle.