Cecile Johnston and her husband Kevin Diffily have just filed for bankruptcy. Their mistake? They had a new baby, and Johnston took 12 weeks off to care for her, as is provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
"I was working at part-time jobs for two agencies," explains Johnston, who is a community educator and organizer, "and had only a small amount of accumulated sick and personal leave from one job. The other agency agreed to lay me off under the impression that I could then get unemployment insurance. But that turned out not to be the case."
Hazel Dews is slightly embarrassed when you ask about her salary. She pauses and then confesses that after 25 years cleaning the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington five nights a week, she makes barely $22,000 a year. That's not what really bothers her, though. What irks her is that men who do the same job earn $30,000.