Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Year One of Our Blog

Our first year blogging has flown by. We've covered lots of territory and had more than a few challenges. We hope you have enjoyed our efforts. We intend to keep on blogging, so don't be shy about telling us what we can do better.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Improve, Don't Limit, Reproductive Health

Oppose Administration Regulations that Limit Family Planning Services

Take Action!

We invite our friends to join us in letting the Secretary of HHA know our distress over the regulations the agency is preparing.

Last week, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration was preparing regulations that would severely limit women's access to reproductive health and family planning services, including some of the most common forms of birth control. While current law does prohibit providers from using federal money to perform abortions, as well as prohibiting discrimination against employees who refuse to perform abortions, the possible new regulations would go many steps further.

Proposed Changes

Among the most startling of changes in the draft regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services is language that would redefine abortion to include "any of the various procedures - including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action - that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." Under this broad definition, many common forms of birth control, including birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception would be falsely labeled as abortion.

The possible proposed regulations would also permit health care providers to refuse to perform any service they deem morally objectionable. In addition, the proposed regulations would trump state laws that protect women's access to reproductive health care, including those requiring health insurance plans that provide drug benefits to include coverage of contraception; laws that require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape survivors; and laws that require pharmacies to fill patients' valid medical prescriptions. The proposed regulations also could severely limit access to counseling, education, contraception, and preventive health care services for low-income and underinsured women and men-those who need it most.

Our Position

AAUW supports the right of every woman to safe, accessible, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services and believes that access to complete reproduction health information and services enhance women's reproductive choices.

We urge the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the reproductive health and safety of all women and girls, rather than limit it.

Take Action!
Send a message to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt urging him to reconsider this attack on family planning. Simply click on the "Take Action" link in the upper right corner or copy and paste the following URL into your Internet browser. Then follow the instructions to send your message.

For more information, please read AAUW's position paper on reproductive rights.

Photo by littlemisskool

Women Are Now Equal as Victims of Poor Economy

Published by New York Times: July 22, 2008

Across the country, women in their prime earning years, struggling with an unfriendly economy, are retreating from the work force, either permanently or for long stretches.

Fewer Women at Work

They had piled into jobs in growing numbers since the 1960s. But that stopped happening this decade, and as the nearly seven-year-old recovery gives way to hard times, the retreat is likely to accelerate.

Indeed, for the first time since the women’s movement came to life, an economic recovery has come and gone, and the percentage of women at work has fallen, not risen, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Each of the seven previous recoveries since 1960 ended with a greater percentage of women at work than when it began.

When economists first started noticing this trend two or three years ago, many suggested that the pullback from paid employment was a matter of the women themselves deciding to stay home — to raise children or because their husbands were doing well or because, more than men, they felt committed to running their households.

But now, a different explanation is turning up in government data, in the research of a few economists and in a Congressional study, to be released Tuesday, that follows the women’s story through the end of 2007.

After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for a while.

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

Hard times in manufacturing certainly sidelined Tootie Samson of Baxter, Iowa. Nine months after she lost her job on a factory assembly line, Ms. Samson, 48, is still not working. She could be. Jobs that pay $8 or $9 an hour are easy enough to land, she says. But like the men with whom she worked at the Maytag washing machine factory, now closed, near her home, she resists going back to work at less than half her old wage.

Ms. Samson knows she will have to get another job at some point. She and her husband still have a teenage daughter to put through college, and his income as a truck driver is not enough. So Ms. Samson, now receiving unemployment benefits, is going to college full time — leaving the work force for more than two years — hoping that a bachelor’s degree will enable her to earn at least her old wage of $20 an hour.

“A lot of women I know, all they did was work at the Maytag factory,” said Ms. Samson, who joined Maytag’s assembly line 11 years ago. “They can’t find another job like it and they deal with this loss by dropping out.”

The Joint Economic Committee study cites the growing statistical evidence that women are leaving the work force “on par with men,” and the potentially disastrous consequences for families.

“Women bring home about one-third of family income,” said Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York and vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. “And only those families with a working wife have seen real improvement in their living standards.”

The proportion of women holding jobs in their prime working years, 25 to 54, peaked at 74.9 percent in early 2000 as the technology investment bubble was about to burst. Eight years later, in June, it was 72.7 percent, a seemingly small decline, but those 2.2 percentage points erase more than 12 years of gains for women. Four million more in their prime years would be employed today if the old pattern had prevailed through the expansion now ending.

The pattern is roughly similar among the well-educated and the less educated, among the married and never married, among mothers with teenage children and those with children under 6, and among white women and black.

The women, in sum, are for the first time withdrawing from work with the same uniformity as men in their prime working years. Ninety-six percent of the men held jobs in 1953, their peak year. That is down to 86.4 percent today. But while men are rarely thought of as dropping out to run the household, that is often the assumption when women pull out.

“A woman gets laid off and she stays home for six months with her kids,” Ms. Boushey said. “She doesn’t admit that she is staying home because she could not get another acceptable job.”

The biggest retreat has been in manufacturing, where more than one million women have disappeared from payrolls since 2001. Like men, many have not returned to jobs in other sectors.

Wage stagnation often discourages them from pursuing new jobs, says Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. “While pay was rising solidly in the 1990s, you had women continuing to move into the work force,” Mr. Katz said.

Pay is no longer rising smartly for women in the key 25-to-54 age group. Just the opposite, the median pay — the point where half make more and half less — has fallen in recent years, to $14.84 an hour in 2007 from $15.04 in 2004, adjusted for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute. (The similar wage for men today is two dollars more.)

Not since the 1970s has that happened to women for so long a stretch — and because this is a new experience for them, “women may be even more reluctant than men to accept declining wages,” said Nancy Folbre, an economist at the University of Massachusetts.

Joyce Call, 39, of Howell, Mich., near Detroit, certainly fits that description. She took an accounting job in January 2006 at Forming Technologies, which supplies plastic to auto companies.

The pay, $14 an hour — more than $25,000 a year — was acceptable, she said, but not the raises, which came to only 28 cents an hour over two years, or the Christmas bonus: $150 the first year and nothing the second.

“I was treated poorly,” she said, explaining her departure.

For the moment, Ms. Call is home-schooling one of her two sons, falling back on her husband’s $70,000 income as a plumber, and looking for another job, to return to a work force she has seldom left since finishing high school in 1988.

“People are just not hiring in Michigan,” she said. What’s more, she is reluctant because of the high cost of gasoline to commute more than an hour each way to the next job. “It would be a tough decision to accept a job that required me to go farther,” she said, adding that she and her husband were cutting back on discretionary spending until she is employed again.

What helped drive up the percentage of women in the work force were the thousands who came off welfare and took jobs in the 1990s, pushed to do so by the welfare-to-work legislation. A strong economy eased the way. So did tax credits and more subsidized child care. Now as the economy weakens and employers shrink their payrolls, many of these women struggle to find work.

Lisa Craig, 42, is among them. Raising three sons in her native Chicago, she had worked only occasionally since high school and started receiving welfare benefits in 1993. For the next seven years she took courses in office skills, was a volunteer in a day care center and served for a while as an unpaid intern for a college vice president.

And then in 2000 she went to work. For most of that year she earned $10 an hour as a salesclerk at a duty-free shop at O’Hare Airport, selling luxury items, but left the job to move to Milwaukee with her children to be near her sister.

“I was in a bad marriage,” she said, “and I was getting a divorce.”

Over the last eight years in Milwaukee she has worked only sporadically although, as she puts it, she has applied for hundreds of jobs, struggling to supplement a $628-a-month welfare check that goes almost entirely to rent, plus $500 a month in food vouchers. The longest tenure, 11 months, was as a salesclerk earning $7.75 an hour at a Goodwill Industries clothing store.

She lost that job last November, but is volunteering at the Milwaukee office of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, hoping to draw a modest salary soon as a community intern.

Ms. Samson, the former Maytag worker, says she can afford not to work because she qualified under the terms of the plant closing for two years of unemployment benefits as long as she is a full-time student. She lost health insurance but shifted to her husband’s policy.

His $40,000 income as a truck driver and her $360 a week in jobless benefits gets them by while she takes an accelerated program at a William Penn University campus near her home. Graduation is scheduled for January 2010.

“If I were a single parent or did not have benefits,” Ms. Samson said, “I would have had to find a job. I could not have gone back to school to get my degree and the promise it holds of a better job.”

That for Ms. Samson is a good reason to drop out. Just working, which she has done nearly all of her adult life, is unappealing, she says. Even interior design, for which she once earned an associate’s degree, does not excite her anymore, she says, mainly because people can no longer afford to fix up their homes.

“A business degree will put me in a position to work for any company,” Ms. Samson said, “and put me in a position to work up into a well-paid human resources job.”

copyright New York Times

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Update: Hurley Mtn. Road Traffic Light

Update from Doris Goldberg:

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has been 'counting' the cars traveling on Hurley Mountain Road to and from Route 28 in an attempt to evaluate what safety measures could prevent accidents and fatalities.Mark Morano from the regional office of NYSDOT said that this matter was given priority because of the letters sent to politicians by people who wanted action taken after Dick Hlavsa's death at this intersection.(So YES, individual action can have an effect!)

There have been long standing safety issues for residents and businesses near the Route 28/Hurley Mountain road intersection because the road divider on Route 28 means that drivers must travel considerable distances to change direction or else incur risks by making turns at unmarked breaks in the divider. Louise Flood, longtime AAUW member, and Bruce Whistance both brought pressure to bear on the Town of Ulster which requested the NYSDOT to evaluate the matter in a written request that was dated March 10, 2008.

We are now writing to the Region 8 office of NYSDOT to find out if this request by the Town of Ulster covers both current safety hazards mentioned on Route 28 or if it is necessary to ask the Town of Ulster to make a separate request for he T-intersection.We will keep you posted on further developments. If you have any questions or ideas on how to hasten action, please call Doris Goldberg, 845-679-3239.

Friday, July 18, 2008

7/19/08: reminder -- come to the AAUW Diversity Party at ASK!

Saturday, July 19
4 to 6 PM

ASK Gallery
97 Broadway
Kingston, NY

Grace by A. D. Hadley

VisualLit art show

Appetizers, wine, soft drinks

Bring some friends and enjoy!

$15 suggested donation for AAUW Diversity Scholarships for Kingston High School students

Additional contributions are appreciated.
Any amount is welcome.

RSVP to Arlene Bruck (845-331-3015)
or Garnette Arledge (845-679-5246)

If you cannot come and would to contribute,
send a check to:
AAUW Kingston, P. O. Box 14, Glenford, NY 12433

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

September Trip Planned

Linda Gold and the American Association of University Women present:

Michelangelo & Monet’s Giverny in the Finger Lakes

September 7-8, 2008

$465 per person based on double occupancy/ $100 single supplement

Slip away and indulge yourself for two days of magnificent art and a stay at a luxurious four-star inn in the Finger Lakes Wine Country. Whether you’re sipping wine, soaking in the beautiful mineral pool, or discovering the joy of seeing Michelangelo’s drawings, this will be a trip you’ll never forget. Bring your camera, your sketchbook and your watercolors: this is a setting to inspire artists and art lovers alike.

We’ll be privileged to view the exhibit, titled “Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth,” organized by the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy, in association with the Syracuse University Art Galleries. The exhibition will include more than a dozen original drawings and writings by the Renaissance master. Since there are few drawings and no paintings or sculpture by Michelangelo in current American art collections, this exhibition will temporarily more than double the number of Michelangelo masterpieces in the United States, presenting a unique opportunity for those who have never seen his original work. These treasures are rarely seen in public, even in Florence, because they need to be kept protected from the damaging effects of light. Our tour will be self-guided, allowing us enough time to view the original work of this Renaissance genius.

Accommodations are at the Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles, NY. This four-star resort is an absolute wow, reminiscent of an old world country estate. All guest rooms feature a cozy fireplace, gorgeous oversized bathrooms and a view of a pond and impressionist gardens inspired by Monet’s home in Giverny, outside of Paris. You’ll view the waterlillies, the blue footbridge and the hanging wisteria. Our four-course dinner at “Giverny” is an elegant, culinary treat. The luxurious, world-class spa has a sauna, exercise room, and large aqua terrace with waterfall, open hearth, heated towels and steamy in-ground whirlpool.

We’ll visit the complex of MacKenzie-Childs, an internationally acclaimed design firm with the most unique, whimsical, creative home furnishings collection that will knock your socks off. We’ll take a tour of the restored 1870 Victorian farmhouse, sit by the duck pond, view the beautiful gardens, or browse the magnificent gift shop. Before leaving the area, we’ll stop for a wine tasting at the King Ferry Winery. On the return trip we’ll enjoy a delicious box dinner with wine while reminiscing with old and new friends about our memorable Finger Lakes experience.

The fee covers the motorcoach, luxury accommodations in a four-star inn, five meals including one dinner in the four-diamond restaurant of the inn (one lunch is dutch-treat); admission to Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth, tour of MacKenzie Childs Victorian farmhouse, private tour and wine tasting at the vineyard, handling of one piece of luggage and all gratuities.

The bus leaves on Sunday, September 7, at 8:15am from the front of the Monticello Government Center on North Street and 9:30am from the rear of the former Ames parking lot (now Steve & Barry’s) in the Kingston Plaza. To reserve, make your check payable to “AAUW – Kingston”, include your phone # and mail it to: Linda Gold, 1 Jacobs Lane, New Paltz, NY 12561. For further information, call 845-255-5256 or email Specify “art tours” in the space for “subject” so that your message is not deleted. A deposit of $200 is due with your reservation and full payment is due by August 5. There will be no refunds after August 5, unless the spot is filled. Your early sign-up is needed since the hotel has to be paid in full and cannot guarantee holding the rooms beyond the date mentioned. The assigned bus seating is on a first-come first-served basis. We’re looking forward to sharing this trip with you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

President's Letter: AAUW Diversity Scholarship Party

Past President Arlene Bruck mentioned last winter that it had been the AAUW custom to have a summertime cocktail party with spouses and guests. That idea sounded great fun to me. It has since grown into an informal gathering with wine, soft drinks and appetizers in a charming Rondout art gallery. Arlene is planning the food, so please contact her with what you will bring. She also has a letter I have written for merchants to take to your favorite store for a donation platter or bottle. Doris and I are doing the publicity. We ask you to bring a guest or two -- the space is large enough for that! Also there's a pleasant collaboration between area poets and artists to view. Mostly it's a party yet also a fundraiser for our Kingston High School Diversity scholarship and gift card program. We would love to have your RSVP so we can plan well. Affectionately, Garnette

DATE: Saturday, July 19
TIME: 4 - 6 p.m.

97 Broadway, Rondout, Kingston

VisuaLit Art Show
artists inspired by literature

with appetizers, wine
soft libations

"Grace" by Anita DeFina Hadley

Suggested donation $15 for Kingston High School AAUW - Diversity Scholarships
Additional contributions appreciated yet any amount welcome

Everybody come, enjoy the evening. Bring friends.

Chairperson Arlene Bruck (corrected phone number 845- 331-3015)

If you cannot come and wish to contribute, send checks to Kingston AAUW
PO Box 14, Glenford, NY 12433. For AAUW information, call 845-704-2120

Invitation designed by Garnette Arledge

Kingston's Lisa Library needs volunteers to help get new books to underpriviledged children

Recently I met with a team of six retired teachers from Poughkeepsie AAUW Branch at the non-profit Lisa Library, located at 77 Cornell St across from the 'new' Kingston main postoffice. The room is filled with bookshelves of publisher's over runs, all brand new children's books that need to be easily scanned and shipped out to prisons, after-school programs, and underfunded children's libraries. The prison project entails providing the incarcerated with recording devises and books age appropriate as bedtime stories for their children back home, i.e. Bedford Hills Women's facility.

Lisa Library's manager, Elisa Gelibtier, who lives in Saugerties, would welcome a team of us coming in for two hours once or twice a month to help. There's no lifting of heavy boxes involved. Please email me with your interest at I will coordinate with Elisa and all interested to set up a beneficent time. Elisa was happy we might come, especially as their air conditioning starts this week. See below for the email from Betty Harrel of the Poughkeepsie Branch. Let's grow a Leading to Reading project here. Then we can donate to Ulster County groups through Lisa Library as Poughkeepsie does in Dutchess. Let me know about your enthusiasm. Cordially, Garnette,

Dear Garnette, As part of the Poughkeepsie Branch Leading to Reading project, we have been volunteering at the Lisa Libraries warehouse in Kingston. It is a foundation which donates books to groups working with underprivileged children across the country. They've donated a number of books to our project, and we wanted to thank them in a small way.

They recently installed a computer system and are in the process of entering their inventory into the system. Some of our members are going up this summer to help. They're also very interested in working with the Kingston Branch.

Do you think any of your members would be interested in volunteering? I can put you in touch with the manager, Elisa Gelibtier. We've enjoyed working with her and I know she'd love to work with your branch as well.

Thanks for your help!

Betty Harrel

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Garden City AAUW Celebrates "Clean Elections" Resolution

Past and Present Presidents of Garden City AAUW and Public Policy Chairperson meet Assemblyman McKevitt (left to right) Georgene Harrison (Co President), Margaret Delahunt, Rose Ann Palmer (Public Policy Chairperson) Assemblyman McKevitt, Mary Knox, Jane Cox (standing) and Sylvia Ebert (Co-President)

Nice going AAUW Garden City! Read this Clean Elections article in the Garden City News:
Women (AAUW) are in a celebratory mood over passage of a 'Clean Elections' resolution at the organization's annual state convention. (See end of article to read the resolution} The branch Public Policy Study Group chose 'Clean Elections' for its annual project, then arranged to have a Resolution: Clean Money: Clean Elections presented by its author, Ms. Irene Miller, AAUW member and member of the Board of Trustees of 'Citizens' Action New York' at the New York State AAUW convention at Cooperstown in April. The resolution passed by an overwhelming majority vote and will be presented to the New York State Legislature.

The reason for celebrating is that 'Clean Elections' could save taxpayers lots of money, allow candidates to run for state offices without begging for dollars, and restore the principle of one person, one vote. How? By providing full and equal public funding to all qualified candidates who refuse private money so that they can feel free to work in the public's interest rather than in that of contributors to their next campaign." [Read more]
That's the kind of press we need all over the state. And, our own Kingston Branch member (Public Policy Chair) Irene Miller, wrote and sheparded the proposal through the state convention. Thanks, Irene.