U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a busload of fellow Democrats are on a tour promoting a minimum wage hike, paid sick leave, affordable childcare and equal pay for men and women. The bus stopped in Albany Sunday. Local politicians and activists turned out to hear from the former Speaker.
"If we had federal legislation in place that pays higher minimum wage for hardworking individuals, many being single parents, pay women the same wage as men doing the same job, and ensure that day care is affordable and reasonable, I believe it would help families build a better life for themselves and their children." Sandra McKinley of Albany, one of the local voices heard as part of the "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds" tour. McKinley shared her tale of being a single mom trying to better herself while raising four sons, forced to leave them home alone while she worked a night shift job, unable to afford child care.
Albany's first female mayor Kathy Sheehan says the changes Pelosi hopes to effect are critical for cities like Albany, where 30 percent of children live in poverty and the high school graduation rate is an abysmal 50 percent. "We need to have strong families. We need to make sure that women earn as much as their male counterparts for doing the same jobs. We have to raise the minimum wage above where it is, and all of those things will help turn where we are now in the right direction."
Pelosi says the bus tour's triple agenda is 17 votes short of becoming law.
Albany City Councilwoman Dorcey Applyrs says the movement is gaining traction; she gets a lot of calls from single moms struggling to survive. "When women succeed we have more progressive policies in place, we have young people who grow up to be more productive members in society... I'm so thankful to be part of this opportunity, and I'm thankful for Congressman Tonko, who as a man, and a congressman stands behind this notion that we need to support and invest in our women."
From the podium, Congressman Paul Tonko, who was scheduled to fundraise with the Democratic leader after hosting the public event, pushed the concept of equal pay for equal work and hiking the minimum wage. "To bring strength to our economy by empowering every household, because we will empower women, and that will strengthen the economy."
The four-day bus tour wraps up mid-week in Chicago.