Stronger CA Convening Sets Powerful Course for 2023
February 17. 2023
I am here today to use my voice for the children and families that don’t have a voice.— Rachel Church, Parent Voices
On January 25, Stronger California network supporters gathered in Sacramento to celebrate the policy wins of 2022’s successful legislative agenda. For the first time in three years, advocates and legislators were able to gather in person to exchange hugs, smiles, and thank yous for their mutual support of uplifting women, workers, and families across the state.
Speakers recounted the key wins from last year that empowered working families, while looking ahead to the policy priorities Californians can support this year.
Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates, spoke of last year’s successful legislation, as well as the Stronger California Network’s impact of passing 43 pieces of legislation over the past eight years. “In all of this, we wanted to make sure that California…really was a leader, was a bastion of hope,” she said.
“Workplace justice isn’t just an aspiration, but it is a reality. Paid family leave, equal pay…[are] all things we need to thrive in the workplace.”
Sharing the stage were leaders of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Senator Nancy Skinner (Chair) and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Vice Chair). Skinner proudly announced the growth of the now 50-member strong Women’s Caucus to a steady round of applause, while emphasizing a dire need to address child poverty: “We are committed, as the Stronger California network is, to ending that.”
Vice Chair Cecilia Aguiar-Curry embraced the impact of the Stronger California Network and the steadily growing women’s caucus: “Even the smallest things you don’t realize you’re doing, you’re changing someone’s life. But you’re also directing us to do good policy.”
Asm. Eloise Gomez Reyes discussed the success of her bill last year, AB 951, which will increase Paid Family Leave and SDI wage replacement benefits for Californians from 70% to 90% for low-wage and from 60% to 70% for all other workers. “We look forward to the day when that really starts getting into the pockets and the purses of working people,” she said.
Sen. Monique Limon provided powerful closing remarks: “There is no other law in this country that is being discussed in the labor space as much as our pay transparency law,” she said of the particular success of Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act (SB 1162). “This past year we were not short of working together in passing what has now become one of our country’s top-leading labor laws related to salary ranges and pay transparency.”
The star of the show, however, was hearing directly from the workers and families Stronger California is dedicated to empowering. Parent Voices Advocate, Rachel Church of San Francisco, shared an intimate story of her experience with homelessness and the inability to afford quality child care due to state family fees that once extracted a significant portion of her income. Low-income families count on every penny to survive, and instead of going toward housing, clothing, food, or child care, hundreds per month go to the state instead. “I am here today to use my voice for the children and families that don’t have a voice,” she said.
She thanked partners and supporters of Stronger California for helping to lead the elimination of family fees and expanding access to quality, affordable childcare. “I’m proud to share my story with groups like Stronger California so we keep fighting until every family in our state has affordable access to childcare when and where they need it.”
To watch the full livestream event, click here.