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Women's Employment Issues CommitteeFebruary 19, 2010:
MAINE JOBS COUNCIL 120 STATE HOUSE STATION AUGUSTA, MAINE 04333
WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT ISSUES COMMITTEE (WEIC) Maine Jobs Council February 19, 2010 MINUTES
Present: Voting Members: Sharon Barker, Gilda Nardone, Darylen Cote, Sarah Standiford, Christy Cross, Valerie Carter Non-Voting Members: Joni Boissoneault, Esther Clenott Guests: Susan LeClair, Jill Myer, Mel Arsenault Staff: Peaches Bass
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes from the October 23, 2009 meeting were accepted as presented.
Sarah Standiford: Lilly Ledbetter will be speaking at the Senator Inn on March 30, 5 – 7 PM. Darylen Cote: Over 50 per cent of the participants at the Engineering Your Future conference at UMPI were girls. Her Upward Bound program is facing a huge challenge; the Obama administration budget does not include funds to support all the Upward Bound programs and they will have to compete against each other for funding. Esther Clenott: Goodwill Industries met with personnel from the Cumberland County Jail. Goodwill will apply for a grant to mentor incarcerated women. Susan LeClair: The Maine Tradeswomen’s Conference will be March 20 at the Senator Inn with a Career Options Fair on March 19. Women Unlimited is excited about its upcoming trainings and registration is up. Jill Myer: Jill lives in Damariscotta, has a passion for women’s social issues, and she is looking for work. Christy Cross: Theresa Savoy is now full-time director of the the Maine DOT Civil Rights Division. There are rumors that there will be some (personnel?) changes at the Federal Highway Administration. Valerie Carter: Jane Crouch in the Bureau of Labor Education is 99% finished with a paper on minimum wage. Valerie is working on a paper analyzing tax reform in Maine. The BLE staff would like to off more training, for example: Employment Law, Stewards Training. Morale at U Maine is low due to impending budget cuts and uncertainty about what is going to happen. Joni Boissoneault: Family Self-Sufficiency programs are going well. HUD is returning to its original focus on increasing income. The Portland Housing Authority is interviewing for an Executive Director. Gilda Nardone: There are several upcoming Totally Trades (TT) Conferences. Women, Work and Community (MCWWC) is excited to be back on track with TT. MCWWC is working with the Maine Department of Education on nontraditional occupations within the Career and Technical Education schools. CA$H Coalition programs are offering free tax information, financial education, asset building and Earned Income Tax Credit information. Sharon Barker: The Maine Girls Collaborative Project is accepting applications for mini-grants. The New Leadership Program for Maine college women is accepting applications for its summer 2010 program.
UPDATE: WORKING WOMEN IN MAINE REPORT
The report and executive summary are both finished. In preparing the summary, Peaches noticed significant typos in the Spotlight headings. In her spare time, she will correct them. She described the help Gail Dana-Sacco offered and how it affected the report’s section on minority women, including how to consider future work on this topic and changing the wording to “women of color.”
Peaches asked the group, “Who will write next year’s report?” Suggestions included former WEIC member Nicole Witherbee, Valerie Carter and the Bureau of Labor Education, an intern, or some combination.
The 2010 report will focus on a five year analysis of the data and trends, along with recommendations for future policy work that will form a basis for working with various entities on women’s employment issues.
GREEN JOBS FOR WOMEN FORUM
Sharon Barker reported on the December 11 Green Jobs for Women Forum held at the University of Maine. A full report and executive summary of the forum are available, along with a video of the complete program on the internet. The forum was a good first step. Everyone who was contacted for participation was excited about contributing and recommended others who could participate. The event opened up new avenues to explore, and created some new connections and networks. Between eighty and one hundred people attended.
Many of the materials made available at the forum were very helpful, particularly the Green Jobs Toolkit. The US Dept of Labor Women’s Bureau will be issuing a compendium of all the forums held across the country. Sharon said she felt very supported, and she was appreciative of the time, help, and guidance people lent to the event.
A discussion ensued, with Gilda Nardone opening the conversation by asking the WEIC what its role is in helping women prepare for and obtain green jobs. Comments included making Green Economy a priority issue for women’s organizations, identifying the current barriers women face going into green occupations, and the inconsistent service some women pursuing green job training are receiving from CareerCenters. Sharon pointed out that the big picture has so many components that need to be addressed, such as accessibility of training, job market, transportation barriers, and open resistance. Christy Cross commented that even within her agency (Maine DOT) it’s hard to shift the culture. There was general discussion of the circumstances that keep women from advancing. Gilda told the group that Women Unlimited and Women, Work and Community have presented a model program to the Local Workforce Investment Board directors to help women improve their job seeking skills and increase their access to good paying jobs.
2009 SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAM
Mel Arsenault, Director of the Bureau of Employment Services, gave a history of the Summer Youth job program. The state received Recovery Act funds serve 16 – 24 year old youth. BES wanted participants to receive Work-Ready credentials and obtain meaningful work. 720 youth participated. According to Mel, the youth were great and had a lot of fun. In 2010, there won’t be enough funds to repeat the program.
Sarah Standiford gave an update on what’s been happening in the legislature. She mentioned a bill carried over from the last session that would link the state minimum wage to inflation. Sarah was personally surprised that low Low wage workers who testified were not treated respectfully by every member of the Joint Committee on Labor. Sarah was personally surprised that one opponent’s testimony was not challenged by the Committee. Advocates focused on not ending up with a weaker bill (i.e. exempting teen workers from the minimum wage).
LD 1665, the “Paid Sick Leave” bill has been quite contentious. At the time, it was still viable and advocates were optimistic about the bill’s passage.
Other bills up for consideration address the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, expedited partner treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and phasing out the use of DECA (a flame retardant compound also found in plastic pallets).
As the legislature grappled with the $438 million budget gap, they were considering a $90,000 cut to sexual assault services.
The Coalition for Women Day at the state house went very well.
The meeting adjourned at 4:00 PM, with the next meeting scheduled for April 23, 1 – 4 PM at the Maine Department of Labor. Polycom will be available in Presque Isle.
NOTE: The June 25 meeting will be held at the Wilton CareerCenter.