Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) has pre-filed a package of bills in advance of the 30th Alaska Legislature intended to promote economic fairness in the workplace in Alaska. House Bill 26 would mandate that employers in Alaska provide reasonable unpaid break time for breast-feeding mothers and a private and sanitary space to breastfeed or express breast milk. H.B. 30 requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave at the rate of at least one hour for every 40 hours of work. Both of those bills were announced as part of the first release of pre-filed legislation earlier today. Rep. Tarr is also pre-filing legislation focused on equal pay and creating a living wage in Alaska. Specifically, the bill calls for the minimum wage in Alaska to be increased to $15.00 an hour. “I represent hardworking Alaskans, many of whom are frustrated with current economic policies that make it hard for working families to get ahead,” said Rep. Tarr. “While some Alaskans enjoy benefits like good pay, paid sick leave, and flexible schedules for nursing moms, many do not. That forces people to work multiple jobs, which denies them important family time. It also causes people to work when they are sick, which makes workers less productive and helps spread diseases and infections. The lack of time to breastfeed or express breast milk during work hours also limits the ability for many mothers to continue working after they give birth.” A 2015 survey found that 51 percent of food workers, including individuals who grow, process, cook, and serve food, always or frequently go to work when they are sick. An additional 38 percent said they sometimes go to work sick, meaning that almost 90 percent of food workers are likely at some point going to work while sick.“ Two other important economic fairness issues are equal pay and living wages. We know that women in Alaska earn on average 67 cents for every dollar a man makes. This is a family issue because more and more women are the breadwinners in their family,” said Rep. Tarr. “A living wage can help lift families out of poverty. We need to work quickly to address these issue so families can succeed and fewer families will need state support. That’s why I have put forward this package of economic fairness legislation, which I hope will be supported by my colleagues in the House and Senate.”
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