by Noreen Farrell, Executive Director
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 oppressive power structures.
When Joe Biden entered office, Equal Rights Advocates had pressing requests. We called upon the Biden Administration to prioritize in its first 100 days support for women of color on the frontlines during the pandemic and students harmed throughout the Trump Administration. As we hit this milestone, we are grateful for the progress made by the Biden Administration and inspired by the momentum we see in Congress prioritizing the needs of communities we serve.
It has been 100 days, and we have a lot to report. Check out our 100 Day Progress Report Update below.
President Biden has moved fast since his January 20 swearing in. He has issued more executive orders so far than his three predecessors, with many addressing dire social justice and economic needs. On his first day alone, Biden revoked a Trump order that limited diversity and inclusion training in government agencies, directed agencies to protect LGBTQ people, and launched a whole-of-government initiative to advance racial equity. He sent Congress a comprehensive immigration proposal and signed a memo to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He ended discriminatory Muslim and African travel bans, expanded food assistance, extended the federal moratorium on evictions, and continued the suspension of federal student loan payments and interest charges.
To meet the urgent needs the pandemic has caused for women and their families, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill into law (the American Rescue Plan) less than two months into his term. Although it excluded a key provision proposed by the Biden Administration to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, this week, the President signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and eliminating the tipped subminimum wage for federal contractors by 2024. We urge the Administration’s continued strong support of the Raise the Wage Act (off to the Senate after House approval), including its key provision abolishing the subminimum wage for tipped workers. Biden’s fair wage progress compliments other important pro-worker actions, such as The Administration has also formally supported the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, as well as issued strong worker safety guidance to help mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19. To support labor organizing, the Administration has established the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment and strongly supports the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
Equal Rights Advocates strongly supports the Raise the Wage Act (and demands the abolishment of the subminimum wage perpetuating discrimination against tipped workers), the PRO Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Stay informed on upcoming advocacy opportunities for these bills and others by joining our Action Team email list. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.
The new White House Gender Policy Council has already engaged Equal Rights Advocates and other gender justice leaders to guide its government-wide approach to gender equality . Similarly, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is already engaging key stakeholders to roll back repressive Trump policies. Biden has issued an executive order to ensure that federal anti-sex discrimination statues prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Department of Justice issued a memo clarifying that Title IX protects LGBTQI+ students from discrimination. We also applaud the Biden Administration’s strong support of the Equality Act, which will broaden protection against LGBTQI+ discrimination in all public spheres. These efforts combine with bold attention to racial injustice in this country. Biden called upon lawmakers this week in his Joint Sessions speech to resurrect the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to address racial discrimination in police use of excessive force.
Read on for more updates.
Stay tuned for future reporting by ERA on Biden’s next 100 days, including consideration of The American Families Plan and The American Jobs Plan, recently announced by the White House. Both initiatives represent visionary proposals that would create transformative change if enacted,including guaranteed preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds; free and sliding scale childcare costs; raising wages for early child care providers and essential home care workers; a national paid family and medical leave program; free school meals for low-income students; increased protections for worker organizing, and advanced workplace health and safety protections.
We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress in the months ahead to push these priorities, for gender, racial, economic, and LGBTQIA+ justice!