The Biden Administration’s First 100 Days: A Call To Support Women Workers of Color & Civil Rights for Students


By Noreen Farrell, Executive Director

The first 100 days of the Biden-Harris Administration brings critical opportunities to change the course of this country. Equal Rights Advocates thanks the Biden-Harris Transition Team for reaching out to our team and other advocacy organizations across the nation, who are close to communities in crisis, to listen and inform the road ahead. We understand the needs are many, and the harm inflicted over the past four years cannot be undone in just 100 days. But for women workers of color on the frontlines during this pandemic supporting our economy, and for students harmed throughout the Trump Administration’s tenure, these next 100 days are critical. We speak in solidarity with them, amplifying their experiences and needs.

Introduction: Our Priorities

Many essential women workers and their family members have been harmed by a virus the government failed to address. They and their families have fallen through the gaps of a patchwork health system rife with inequities. Forced by a lack of paid sick or family leave mandates, many essential workers make impossible choices every day between life and work. Essential women workers support the nation’s economy, educate children at home, and care for elders. However, they do so without childcare support, a fair wage, and protection from exploitative and abusive work conditions.

We urge the Biden-Harris Administration to address these systemic work and care infrastructure inequities that also disproportionately impact of COVID-19 on women workers of color. Black, Indigenous, Latina, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women have lost jobs at devastating rates since the pandemic. Indeed, Black women are nearly twice as likely to have been laid off, furloughed, or paid less during the pandemic. Black women are regaining employment at a slower rate as well. The gender and race gap revealed by new data released on January 15 is shocking: employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, and women accounted for 111% of those cuts, losing 156,000 jobs while men gained jobs. Immediate action is needed as Black and brown women deplete their meager savings, face eviction, and navigate food and housing insecurity.

We ask that the Biden-Harris Administration also prioritize bolstering students’ civil rights across the country in the next 100 days. Immediate action is needed to undo four years of relentless attacks by the Trump Administration (including former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos), depriving women and girls of color, LGBTQ+ youth, students with disabilities, and Dreamers their federal right to be educated free of discrimination and harassment and sexual assault. We call for the immediate steps to be taken to ensure COVID relief for immigrant students in need, reinstatement of guidance addressing school sexual misconduct, prevent discriminatory school discipline, and ensure school accommodations for transgender students consistent with their gender identity.

We are a nation of workers, breadwinners, students, and caregivers. We have always been essential. We have supported our nation’s economy during an unprecedented pandemic and led the defense of our democracy, even as we have borne the brunt of white supremacy, patriarchy, and racist power structures. Today is a new day. We thank the Biden-Harris Administration for meeting our needs, championing our rights, and celebrating our value. We are heartened the Biden-Harris Administration has moved so quickly to take the first steps making racial equity an outcome of all federal programs with its executive action. In solidarity with advocacy partners across the country committed to gender, racial, and economic justice, we call for the Biden Administration to expeditiously advance the following policy priorities in the next 100 days through executive or legislative action, as it also addresses other urgent needs.

We look forward to achieving these priorities as 2021 continues.

 

The First 100 Days

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  1. We call upon the Biden Administration to do all within the federal government’s power to stop the spread of COVID-19 with federal programs accelerating all Americans’ vaccination, including essential women workers of color. ERA strongly supports the Biden Administration’s plan to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days, including using the Defense Production Act to ramp up the vaccine’s distribution.
    ✓ Executive Orders signed by President Biden 1/21/21.
  2. Through executive action and/or work with Congress on a comprehensive COVID relief and economic stimulus package, we urge the Biden Administration to, at a minimum: 
  • Extend emergency paid sick days and paid family leave for workers not already protected. 
  • Increase Income supports, like the Economic Impact Payments and temporary expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit (outlined in the revised HEROES Act, passed by the House of Representatives in 2020)
    Executive Order signed by President Biden 1/22/21.
  • Restore the expansion of Unemployment Insurance benefits (which expired in July 2020) as needed until widespread job security increases.
  • Increase funding for nutrition programs (including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and housing assistance programs (e.g., rental/mortgage assistance, eviction moratorium, and homelessness alleviation)
    Executive Order signed by President Biden 1/22/21.
  • Provide immediate relief to child care providers and families, including strong support of the Child Care is Essential Act calling for $50+ billion in funding to stabilize the child care sector, prevent permanent closures – and keep women in the workforce who rely on this childcare.

Support these priorities. Sign our petition to the White House.

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Workplace and Immigration Reform Valuing Essential Women Workers of Color and Their Families

  1. We ask that the Biden Administration immediately repeal all unfair and discriminatory executive orders of the Trump Administration harming essential women workers, including immigrant women workers and their families. These include:
  • EO 13673 (Trump 2017) reversed requirements of pay transparency of federal contractors. It removed bans of forced arbitration for victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination.
  • EO 13950 (Trump 2020) banned implicit bias & diversity training by federal contractors and subcontractors.
    Executive Order to end this ban signed by President Biden 1/20/21.
  • EO 13769 (Trump 2017) banned Muslim immigrant travel to the United States.
    Executive Order to end this ban signed by President Biden 1/20/21.

2.  We ask the Biden Administration, through executive action or strong encouragement of Congressional legislation, to support: 

  • Protecting the rights of Domestic Workers and any other worker excluded from labor and employment protections, consistent with the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights
  • Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and abolishing the federal subminimum wage of $2.13 per hour for tipped workers, including support for the Raise the Wage Act (passed by the House of Representatives in July 2019)
  • Closing the gender and race wage gap, including passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act passed by the House in March 2019.
  • Ending workplace harassment, including passage of the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act and the EMPOWER Act.
  • Explicitly extending federal civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as outlined in the House’s Equality Act in May 2019.
    Executive Order to enforce these protections signed by President Biden 1/20/21.
  • Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment of the United States Constitution

Support these priorities. Sign our petition to the White House.

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Family Care Infrastructure Investments Critical to Essential Women Workers of Color

We ask the Biden Administration, through executive action or strong encouragement of Congressional legislation, to: 

  • Closely follow 187 expert organizations’ recommendations, set forth here: Child Care and Early Learning: Addressing the Urgent Crisis and Investing in the Future
  • Ensure immediate relief to child care providers and families, including strong support of the Child Care is Essential Act calling for funding to stabilize the child care sector and prevent permanent closures. 
  • Immediately introduce comprehensive legislation and budget investments to ensure quality and affordable child care and fairer compensation for the childcare workforce. 
  • Support Fairness for Pregnant Workers, including passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (passed by House in September 2019)
  • Provide partial wage replacement for workers who take time off to care for themselves and their family members, as outlined in the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act and the Healthy Family Act, previously considered by the House.
  • Protect employees with caregiving responsibilities, including the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act

Support these priorities. Sign our petition to the White House.

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Strengthen Civil Rights for Students

We urge the Biden Administration and his Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, to use the rules process to recommit the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education to the protection of civil rights for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, students from religious minorities, and student survivors of sexual violence and harassment so that barriers to their equitable access of education are removed. Student-focused priorities for the first 100 days should include: 

  • Action consistent with these recommendations by Equal Rights Advocates and more than 100 other civil rights organizations and survivor advocates made in December 2020, calling for strengthened Title IX enforcement, increased support and resources for anti-sexual harassment, support of federal legislation protecting student survivors and preventing sexual harassment in schools, and improved data collection by the Department of Education.
  • Prompt drafting of new regulations under Title IX and immediate issuance of interim guidance to return to Obama-era standards for how colleges respond to sexual misconduct. These actions would rescind DeVos-era Title IX guidance that opened the door to cross-examinations, adversarial live hearings, witness testimonies for student complainants of sexual misconduct claims, and a burden of proof more suited to criminal court than student misconduct proceedings. 
  • Commitment to return the Office for Civil Rights to its original purpose – to ensure equal access to education without vulnerable students being forced to drop out or abandon their educational goals because their schools refused to keep them safe.

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