Center for American Progress, Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan and Engage Michigan host Women and Families Economic Security Summit in Mackinaw City during the Mackinac Policy Conference.                                         

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. – Living paycheck to paycheck is the reality for many Michigan families, which is why experts and activists are gathering today to look at how to help more Michiganders get ahead instead of just getting by.

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that more than two-thirds of Michigan mothers now are the sole, primary or co-breadwinners in their families. But the center’s director of women’s economic policy, Sarah Jane Glynn, said policies such as paid family leave, equal pay, access to affordable child care and a livable minimum wage are stuck in a different era.

“It is ridiculous that in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, that people can lose their jobs because school calls and tells them that their child is sick and they have to come pick them up,” she said, “or that many families can’t afford to put food on the table and pay for rent and pay for child care.”

Glynn said those will be among the topics at the Michigan Women and Families Economic Security Summit, which will take place today on Mackinac Island. Meanwhile, the state’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel, which also opens today, is slated to focus on roads, schools and urban revival.

Legislation has been introduced that would provide eight paid sick days to standard full-time workers in Michigan. Glynn said more and more states and municipalities are taking steps to ensure parents can raise their families and still do their jobs.

“I think people really understand that this is a moment that is right for change,” she said, “that we need to bring our workplace policies up to match the reality of where we and our families are today.”

Republican lawmakers in Lansing have argued that paid sick leave would hinder job creation. Three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have enacted statewide social insurance programs to provide paid family leave time, while California and Connecticut both have passed statewide paid-sick-day laws.

The Center for American Progress report is online at americanprogressaction.org. The text of the paid-sick-leave legislation, House Bill 4167, is at legislature.mi.gov.

May 27, 2015 – Mona Shand, Public News Service (MI)