Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Valerie Jarrett — senior adviser to President Barack Obama — were among the Democrats headlining a downtown event Monday intended to highlight ways of improving the lot of working families, particularly those headed by women.
Several speakers at the Chicago Forum on Working Families said that if American businesses want to remain competitive globally, then they need to be more flexible — particularly when it comes to working mothers dealing with childcare issues.
“This isn’t just about government, it isn’t just about what’s good for workers, it’s really good for a business’ bottom line,” said Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Employers willing to be flexible face lower turn-over rates and are better able to retain talent, Tchen said.
U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said it is a disgrace that the United States is one of only four countries in the world — the others being Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland — that don’t have guaranteed maternity leave.
“This is not a list we want to be on,” Schakowsky said.
Durbin, D-Ill., deplored Congress’ inability to raise the federal minimum wage to a level that would lift hardworking families out of poverty. He said that he was headed back to Congress later Monday to debate that very issue.
“If you get up and got to work every darn day and work hard, you should not be living in poverty — period,” he said. “That should be our standard in America.”