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