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Archive for the ‘Women Workers’ Category

This article was originally posted on AFL-CIO Blog

by Adele Stan, Dec 13, 2011

Listen to the conventional wisdom, and you’ll hear that women have fared better than men in the recent recession. In reality, women are not only shouldering the burden of being the sole breadwinner in more families than ever before, they also account for the majority of public-sector layoffs. Single mothers and women in communities of color continue to suffer rising unemployment of more than 12 percent.

Against that backdrop, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), as part of a coalition of 40 national organizations, is launching HERvotes, a nonpartisan campaign to mobilize women around the pressing issues of health and economic rights.

While it’s true that the initial rounds of layoffs after the housing bubble burst in 2007 and the stock market crash in 2008 hit men harder than women, men have now benefited significantly from the jobs added to the economy in the ensuing years. As CLUW Executive Director Carol Rosenblatt notes in a post on the HERvotes blog:

According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, women lost 46,000 jobs from December 2007 – June 2009 while men gained 1.26 million.

She also notes that women comprise nearly 64 percent of laid-off public-sector workers—a number disproportionate to their 57 percent representation in the public-sector workforce. (See our report, here.)

Drawing from the stories of unemployed people that appear on the AFL-CIO site where jobless workers are relating their stories, Rosenblatt highlights the comments of two women among those ranks, including a poignant entry from a Pennsylvania woman named Juli, who writes:

Without unemployment, I have no way to feed my two sons, to pay our rent, to try and find another job.

Rosenblatt’s post appeared in a HERvotes blog carnival, part of a campaign to get Congress to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits to those whose benefits are about to expire in January.

One way you can participate, via Twitter, is to retweet these, which both HERvotes and MomsRising have been sending from their Twitter accounts:

Call Congress: 888-245-3381 Tell your Rep to oppose @RepDaveCamp bill #HR3630 to slash unemployment ins. #extendUI #HERvotes PlsRT

#Unemployment Insurance=critical 4 #women! TAKEACTION:EZ Click-to-call: http://j.mp/uZOqhp Tell Congress #ExtendUI Oppose HR 3630 #HERvotes

#ExtendUI#Women speak up 4 #unemployed workers #HERvotes blog carnival http://t.co/kfQlC0qA

The HERvotes actions also included taking part in last week’s prayer vigil for jobless workers and a Friday gathering on Capitol Hill focusing on unemployment that featured Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority; Linda Hallman, executive director, American Association of University Women (AAUW); Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC); Nancy Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); Gloria Lau, CEO, YWCA USA; Donna Norton, national campaign director of Mom’s Rising; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; and CLUW President Karen See. After the event, many of the participants joined in a prayer vigil that took place outside the U.S. Capitol building.

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By Jacob Lesniewski

Dana Goldstein makes the important point that the public sectors workers targeted by Gov. Walker’s union busting and given a reprieve are different on one major characteristic: gender.  Firefighters and police offers, left out of the bill are predominantly male, and the teachers and others targeted by Mr. Walker and his Koch brother overlords are largely female. While the solidarity shown by firefighters and police in Wisconsin is pretty impressive, it’s a pretty clear cut of sexism, and one that we at Arise Chicago find all too familiar.  In our mission to seek justice and improve working conditions for all workers, we accompany union workers in their contract fights, organizing drives or other campaigns.    More and more, the unionized workers under attack in this latest attack on are in traditionally female dominated occupations. Here at Arise, we’re working with nurses, school teachers, and home health aides. These women (mainly) are fighting for their rights on the job in the face of attacks on their dignity and worth as workers, their commitments to those they service, and their supposed culpability in the financial crisis.

To be clear, it doesn’t matter that those who are engaged in attacks on the freedom of association (collective bargaining rights) of women workers would claim that their attacks are unmotivated by sexism or gender bias. What matters are the results: systematic assaults on women in the “helping professions.”  What matters is that the women in these jobs, jobs which have been traditionally viewed as inferior women’s work, were able to grasp a modicum of dignity at work through collective action are now under attack from the slick white puppet masters of propaganda and reaction, putting to rest at last the notion that the battle in Wisconsin, and the upcoming fights in Indiana, Michigan or Ohio have anything to do with fiscal austerity and balanced budgets.

- Jacob is an Organizer for Arise Chicago’s Worker Center

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