Since 2006 A Better Balance has been dedicated to advancing justice for workers, so they can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their economic security. They’ve vindicated 1.5 million workers’ rights through impact litigation and direct legal services while securing critical relief for women and families.
This year alone the New York nonprofit advocacy organization has assisted over 3,000 people through a free and confidential legal helpline. The helpline directly supports and empowers workers who have questions about their legal rights as they care for themselves and their loved ones. A Better Balance also provides comprehensive know your rights information to workers through a Workplace Rights Hub.
A Better Balance hasn’t just advocated for change at the national level- they’ve influenced local and state policies. Through strategic litigation, they’ve helped to pass laws guaranteeing pregnant workers the right to accommodations at the state level in 30 states. The organization helped pass paid family and medical leave laws in 10 states, which equates to 15 million workers having access to paid family and medical leave. Additionally, they’ve passed paid sick time laws in 16 states and dozens of localities. This means more than 19 million workers who previously did not have a single paid sick day are now covered by a paid sick time law.
A Better Balance has been instrumental in legislation for working families; here are just a few. (A full timeline can be found here.)
- In 2014, California, Massachusetts, San Diego, and Oakland, CA, and seven cities in New Jersey enact paid sick time laws, using a model created by A Better Balance.
- In 2016, The U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Florence, KY, reach a groundbreaking agreement in response to A Better Balance case filed on behalf of two police officers who faced pregnancy discrimination on the job.
- In 2019, A Better Balance Co-President Dina Bakst testifies before Congress to call for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, highlighting the stories of women across the country who were forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy.
- In 2020, A Better Balance drafted and provided technical support regarding COVID-19 paid leave bills in more than 40 cities and states.
- This year, Co-President Dina Bakst testified before Congress urging them to remove barriers to justice for pregnant workers and mothers by immediately passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.
A Better Balance believes it is more urgent than ever that the government passes fair, equitable, and inclusive workplace policies to support caregivers—particularly low-wage working mothers of color, who have long been shouldering the brunt of the care crisis.
“Every day, we hear from workers who are forced to choose between their income and caregiving responsibilities. The pandemic has shone a light on the care crisis, but supportive policies for women and all caregivers have long been urgently needed and will continue to be crucial beyond COVID,” says Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst.
As the last quarter of 2021 approaches, A Better Balance finds itself advocating for the following before year’s end.
Paid Leave for All
A Better Balance is a leader in the federal Paid Leave for All campaign, and America’s need for a comprehensive and inclusive federal paid leave program is greater than ever.
“We’ve helped to pass successful paid family and medical leave policies at the state and local level across the country, but access to these critical policies shouldn’t depend on geographical location. We’re continuing to fight so that all workers can access time off work to care for themselves and their loved ones, without sacrificing vital income,” says A Better Balance Co-Founder and Co-President Sherry Leiwant.
Protections for Breastfeeding Mothers
As we hear all too often, new mothers returning to the workplace are too often forced to choose between breastfeeding and their paycheck, and the PUMP (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections) for Nursing Mothers Act would put a stop to this injustice. It would cover an additional 9 million workers with a right to time and space to pump breast milk.
“Right now, millions of nursing workers don’t have an affirmative right to the time and space they need to express breast milk on the job. This can have detrimental health consequences, and often leads to new parents being pushed off the job at a time when their paycheck is most important for their growing family,” says Bakst.
Maternal Health and the Climate Crisis
Extreme heat, weather disasters such as hurricanes, toxic wildfire smoke, and other climate impacts all have negative impacts on maternal health. Earlier this year, A Better Balance participated in a legislative briefing on how the climate crisis exacerbates the shocking racial disparities in maternal health in the nation.
“As temperatures soar due to the climate crisis, workers in high-heat environments need to be able to stay safe and healthy on the job. For pregnant workers, heat exposure has been shown to cause adverse infant and maternal health outcomes. We’ve played a leading role in fighting to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would ensure that vulnerable workers can access accommodations to protect their health and the health of their babies,” says Bakst.
Through legislative advocacy, direct legal services and strategic litigation, and public education, the legal team at A Better Balance combats discrimination against pregnant workers and caregivers and advances supportive policies like paid sick time, paid family and medical leave, fair scheduling, and accessible, quality childcare and eldercare.
“We’ve been fighting for fifteen years to advance justice for workers caring for themselves and their loved ones. Caregiving is a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure, and as the country begins to recover from the pandemic, we’re working to pass policies that invest in care and support and uplift working families nationwide,” says Leiwant.