Newsflash:
Issues End Wars and Occupations, Redirect Funding Economic and Social Justice Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 21:30

Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job

Written by  Michelle Chen | In These Times

Back in the days before modern feminism, a young woman looking for work might typically be advised, politely, to “learn a trade,” with the implication that she wasn't bound for college or an elite career, but a humbler job as, say, a secretary or seamstress. Such a phrase might sound condescending today. Yet working in a trade might still be sound career goal for a woman, if she gets the right kind of job—in a union.

According to a new paper on women and unionization by progressive think tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), "Even after controlling for factors such as age, race, industry, educational attainment and state of residence, the data show a substantial boost in pay and benefits for female workers in unions relative to their non-union counterparts. The effect is particularly strong for women with lower levels of formal education."

In other words, all other things being equal, unions are good for working women, yielding higher wages and better job benefits. Specifically, “unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts, are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.”

Of course, unions are good for men, too. Across the unionized workforce—which includes higher-paying, male-dominated sectors like construction—men actually see a bigger wage boost from union membership than women do. But for women, who still face a gendered pay gap, the gains that unions provide can be critical. CEPR notes, "All else equal, being in a union raises a woman's pay as much as a full year of college does."

The study concludes, “Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women workers also care about unions.”

Even though it materially enhances many aspects of their working lives, the value of union membership for women tends to get overlooked. Media narratives and neoliberal feminist advice tracts like Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In tend to stress higher education, networking and climbing the corporate ladder as ways for women to get ahead. But the report's findings suggest that “good union work”—an idea that’s culturally more associated with rough-hewn longshoremen than single moms—may be an overlooked path to social advancement for women.

This doesn’t mean young women should ditch their textbooks and put on a hard hat. Contrary to stereotypes, unions and professional careers that require an education go hand in hand. Public sector professions with high concentrations of women, such as teachers, have strong rates of unionization—which is part of the reason women’s share of the union workforce has grown since the 1980s, despite a decline in the overall unionization rate.

According to CEPR, the union advantage helps even professionals with college degrees, such as teachers and nurses. Among women with bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees, union wages are about 13 and 10 percent more than their non-union counterparts, respectively.

Still, the biggest boost, nearly 15 percent, is for those with just a high school-level education. And the fact is that not every young woman will go to college. National Public Radio recently reported that in a national poll, 40 percent of parents expressed concern that students who are not college-bound are not adequately prepared “to enter the job market when they leave school.” For parents of girls, the rate of concern was even higher, about 50 percent. For women who don’t go to college, out of choice or necessity, getting a union job can dramatically change their long-term prospects in a precarious and sharply unequal economic landscape.

Clearly, all students should be able to pursue whatever path they desire, whether it’s a college degree or jumping straight into the job market from high school. But for those who are off the college track, especially girls, a union track may be their best, and perhaps only, hope for a sustainable career. And even those who do go to college may not find a “high skill” professional job right after graduation—just ask the ever-growing surplus army of unpaid interns across the country.

And here’s where modern feminism and labor and the struggles of working-class communities converge. For the girl who is shut out of the corporate bourgeois have-it-all vision of the Lean In class of women, a different kind of feminism is needed. The labor movement and the feminist movement are more closely entwined than you’d think from looking at the mainstream models of female empowerment, which feature power suits, MBAs and ruthless individualism, not collective bargaining, picket lines and organizing drives. Faced with evidence that good union jobs in skilled trades can greatly improve the prospects of young women, feminists ought to recognize that when unions penetrate and mobilize marginalized service sectors, they are shielding some of the poorest women against corporate greed and neoliberal social policy.

Throughout the recession and the anemic “recovery,” masses of women have been sucked into fast food and retail jobs. Paradoxically, even as organized labor is skewing toward women—they will comprise a majority of union workers by 2023—women workers in dead-end, non-union jobs are disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis. Those trends are now entwining to drive change, however, as women workers fuel grassroots organizing campaigns for fast-food and Walmart workers, demanding a living wage and a union representation in jobs dominated by women.

According to Nicole Woo, CEPR’s director of domestic policy, for the most marginalized groups of workers, “skills and education will get workers only so far. The larger context of growing inequality, of which the drop in unionization is a big factor, prevents large swaths of the workforce from achieving economic security.” The CEPR’s data shows that “even those workers who do everything right—getting more education and skills—[often] still find themselves with low wages and lacking benefits.” Whether they’re soldering on an assembly line or educating the next generation of young professionals or rallying in the street for a decent contract, union women are everywhere, and it’s high time that they are recognized for what they, and their unions, deliver to the economy.

Link to original article from In These Times

Read 2624 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 December 2013 18:39

End Wars and Occupations Articles

  • America's Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953
    America's Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953

    U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments leave the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.

    Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide's lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami.  He began his talk with a riddle: "Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?"  The answer: "Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C."  This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.

    Written on Thursday, 10 April 2014 19:30 Read more...
  • The Pentagon's Phony Budget War
    The Pentagon's Phony Budget War

    Or How the U.S. Military Avoided Budget Cuts, Lied About Doing So, Then Asked for Billions More

    Washington is pushing the panic button, claiming austerity is hollowing out our armed forces and our national security is at risk. That was the message Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered last week when he announced that the Army would shrink to levels not seen since before World War II.

    Written on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 18:57 Read more...
  • The Pentagon's Phony Budget War
    The Pentagon's Phony Budget War

    Washington is pushing the panic button, claiming austerity is hollowing out our armed forces and our national security is at risk. That was the message Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered last week when he announced that the Army would shrink to levels not seen since before World War II. Headlines about this crisis followed in papers like the New York Timesand members of Congress issued statements swearing that they would never allow our security to be held hostage to the budget-cutting process.

    Written on Friday, 07 March 2014 00:44 Read more...
  • 35 Countries Where the U.S. Has Supported Fascists, Drug Lords and Terrorists
    35 Countries Where the U.S. Has Supported Fascists, Drug Lords and Terrorists

    The U.S. is backing Ukraine's extreme right-wing Svoboda party and violent neo-Nazis whose armed uprising paved the way for a Western-backed coup. Events in the Ukraine are giving us another glimpse through the looking-glass of U.S. propaganda wars against fascism, drugs and terrorism. The ugly reality behind the mirror is that the U.S. government has a long and unbroken record of working with fascists, dictators, druglords and state sponsors of terrorism in every region of the world in its elusive but relentless quest for unchallenged global power.  

    Written on Friday, 07 March 2014 00:20 Read more...
  • We Need To End the Disastrous Failure Of The War On Terror
    We Need To End the Disastrous Failure Of The War On Terror

    America's military adventures have fueled a global explosion of terrorism and a historic breakdown of law and order.

    Twelve years into America's "war on terror," it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence, war and instability in an "arc of terror" stretching from West Africa to the Himalayas and beyond. 

    Written on Tuesday, 04 February 2014 01:28 Read more...
  • Iran Breakthrough a Triumph for Pragmatists and a Defeat for the Warmongers
    Iran Breakthrough a Triumph for Pragmatists and a Defeat for the Warmongers

    The implementation of the Iran accord Monday signaled a modest but still important sea change in that country’s relationship with the world. As with all good diplomacy, the deal is a win-win for Iran and the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members.

    Written on Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:29 Read more...
  • Syria Peace Talks: Bitter Exchanges Mark First Day Of Negotiations
     Syria Peace Talks: Bitter Exchanges Mark First Day Of Negotiations

    MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — The United Nations is taking a day to see if there is enough common ground between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition to talk directly for the first time since the rebellion began in 2011.

    Written on Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:23 Read more...
  • No Seat For Syrian Women at the Peace Talks
    No Seat For Syrian Women at the Peace Talks

    The talks in Syria began today, with the Syrian government and opposition exchanging accusations and invectives. Missing was the voice of nonviolent civilians, especially women, even through they have been trying for months to have a seat at the table.

    Written on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 17:16 Read more...
  • Drones Will Be Tested in 10 US States - Is Yours One?
    Drones Will Be Tested in 10 US States - Is Yours One?

    At least ten states will be sites for testing drones — unmanned aircraft — in the next couple of years, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) announced on Monday. Six institutions have been authorized to operate test locations for the use of drones and for studying how they will interact with air traffic systems.

    Written on Sunday, 05 January 2014 20:49 Read more...
  • Demilitarizing the Economy: A Movement is Underway
    Demilitarizing the Economy: A Movement is Underway

    As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing - but what about the communities dependent on the massive post-9/11 military budget?

    End wars. Shrink the Pentagon budget. Reinvest the savings in neglected domestic priorities. It’s a logical progression. Right?

    Written on Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Congresswoman Lee on Nelson Mandela’s Passing
    Congresswoman Lee on Nelson Mandela’s Passing

    Washington, D.C.— Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the passing of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela:

    Written on Friday, 06 December 2013 17:29 Read more...
  • Anti-Drone Movement Speaks: 'End the Secrecy, No to Kill List'
    Anti-Drone Movement Speaks: 'End the Secrecy, No to Kill List' Activists from across the globe kicked off the largest-ever anti-drone summit Friday with a boisterous White House rally then march to the headquarters of one of the most notorious weapons manufacturers in the world.
    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 01:11 Read more...
  • US built 'powerful organs of state terrorism' in Iraq
    US built 'powerful organs of state terrorism' in Iraq

    Iraq is still suffering from the US invasion because the apparatus of state oppression and terror is still in place, killing people every day. But few in the US seem to realize the scale of the war crimes committed in Iraq, an expert author told RT.

    Written on Saturday, 09 November 2013 19:49 Read more...
  • The Tragic History of U.S. Military Supremacy
    The Tragic History of U.S. Military Supremacy

    Having the most expensive and destructive military does not make the American people safer. The idea of U.S. "national security" seems inextricably entangled with the notion of "military supremacy."

    Written on Friday, 25 October 2013 02:20 Read more...
  • Reading Obama’s Iran Speech
    Reading Obama’s Iran Speech

    All of a sudden we’re talking to Iran. Now, granted, that shouldn’t be such an astonishing bombshell. But given the reality of the last several decades, it pretty much is. And that’s all good. It’s been too long coming, it’s still too hesitant, there’s still too much hinting about military force behind it… but we’re talking. Foreign minister to foreign minister, Kerry to Zarif, it’s all a good sign.

    Written on Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:36 Read more...
  • Beating Swords Into Solar Panels
    Beating Swords Into Solar Panels

    A trillion dollars.  It's a lot of money.  In a year it could send 127 million college students to school, provide health insurance for 206 million people, or pay the salaries of seven million schoolteachers and seven million police officers.

    Written on Thursday, 19 September 2013 23:17 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Email Your Senators and Representatives - Ask Them to Support Peace Legislation

There is no faster way to send a message to your Congress members than using our Email Advocacy Tool.

  1. Enter your Zip +4
  2. Use our letter or feel free to edit and create your own
  3. Choose an Advocacy Alert and have your letter sent directly to your Congress Member


Advocacy Alerts

Bennis: There is No Military Solution to Syria

Miriam Pemberton - Progressive Central

Building the Peace and Justice Movement

Miriam Pemberton - Swords into Ploughshares