Category Archives: Working Women

After ‘Harris v. Quinn’: The State of Our Unions

Source: Eileen Boris, Jennifer Klein, Joel Rogers, Joshua Freeman and Jane McAlevey, The Nation, July 2, 2014

After one of Supreme Court’s most anti-union rulings in recent years, is there still time for organized labor to save itself?…

….To help sort through these and other questions, we have gathered up a group of scholars and activists and asked them to expound. They include Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein, Joel Rogers, Joshua Freeman and Jane McAlevey. Their pieces range from meditations on what Harris v. Quinn means for the vast corps of women (particularly women of color) who make up this new “partial public employee” category to the way the Court has warped the First Amendment into a scythe to slice apart some of our most basic social protections. And if the meditations are not always cheery, well, this isn’t a particularly cheery topic. Then again, it’s not hopeless either. As McAlevey argues, labor still has time to save itself.

Reducing Labor to Love” by Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein

How Harris v. Quinn and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Turned the First Amendment into a Weapon” by Joel Rogers

Is Harris v. Quinn a Threat to Labor Peace?” by Joshua Freeman

Labor’s Only Real Choice: Beating Harris v. Quinn and Right-to-Work Attacks from the Inside Out” by Jane McAlevey…

Why the Supreme Court’s Attack on Labor Hurts Women Most

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation blog, July 7, 2014

…..According to a CEPR analysis of the “union advantage” and gender inequality, union women are more likely to have decent family leave policies, retirement benefits and wages. Unionized female health aides generally earn wages that are 16 percent higher than that of their non-union counterparts. Meanwhile, though the union workforce is shrinking nationwide, women are becoming the majority and have especially high representation in public service jobs, thanks in large part to the immigration-driven growth in Asian American and Latina workers.

And that brings us back to why Illinois home attendants were a perfect target for the anti-union movement. Union-supported homecare demonstrates how women, “big government” and consumers can effectively work together, so naturally, the right is fighting to destroy this model before it catches on in more states.

Hobby Lobby revealed how companies can lord over working women’s reproductive freedom in a deeply inequitable insurance system. Harris struck from another angle—eroding union women’s labor power and threatening public health services in the process. Unions are a tool for resistance; although unionization alone won’t overcome greed or religious chauvinism in corporations, a strong collective bargaining system would give women a platform to hold bosses accountable and thwart reactionary attacks on health programs for workers and the poor…..
Harris v. Quinn Is About the Right of Home Care Workers to Improve Their Wages
Source: Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute, Working Economics blog, May 20, 2014

Nine Facts About American Families And Work

Source: Council of Economic Advisers, June 2014

Fact 1: Mothers are increasingly the household breadwinners…..
Fact 2: Fathers are increasingly family caregivers…..
Fact 3: Women make up nearly half of today’s labor force…..
Fact 4: Women are increasingly among our most skilled workers, attaining the majority of college degrees, and deepening their work experiences…..
Fact 5: Most children live in households where all parents work…..
Fact 6: Caregiving doesn’t end when the children are grown: eldercare is a growing responsibility of workers…..
Fact 7: Men and women alike face challenges as they try to balance work and family…..
Fact 8: Many workplaces have not kept up with the needs of 21st century workers and families…..
Fact 9: Providing workplace flexibility and paid leave strengthens families, businesses, and our economy…..

Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now

Source: Sarah Jane Glynn, Center for American Progress, June 20, 2014

…In this report, we update Boushey’s analysis using the most recent data available on the status of working mothers as breadwinners or co-breadwinners. We offer new insights into the demographics of mothers whose earnings help keep their families afloat. We find that the trends first identified in “The New Breadwinners” remain in effect but that breadwinning mothers are not all cut from the same cloth. We compare mothers who are single breadwinners, married breadwinners, married co-breadwinners, and married with no earnings along a number of demographics in order to better understand the patterns and context within which mothers combine wage earning with caregiving. We find notable differences among the groups in terms of family income, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, age, and the age of the youngest child. Despite these nuances and differences, one striking fact remains: The days of the full-time, stay-at-home mom are long in the past for most families, and there is no indication that patterns will revert back to those of the 1960s. The fact that so many women are economically responsible for themselves and their families shows how far women have come in terms of education, career advancement, and their own economic independence. But we still have a long way to go….

Unions Boost Women’s Earnings, Benefits, and Workplace Flexibility

Source: Janelle Jones, John Schmitt, and Nicole Woo, Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2014

From the press release:
Over the past four decades, women have played increasingly important roles as breadwinners in their families. At the same time, women’s share of unpaid care work and housework has remained high. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), “Women, Working Families, and Unions,” explores the role unions play in addressing the challenges facing working women and families in balancing their work and family responsibilities. The paper looks at trends in unionization for women; the impact of unions on wages, benefits and access to family and medical leave; and the role of unions in addressing work-life balance issues. … The report finds that unions increase access to benefits that help working families succeed in this economy. Women in unions are 36 percent more likely to receive health insurance benefits through their jobs and 53 percent more likely to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan….

Parents’ Employment and Children’s Wellbeing

Source: Carolyn J. Heinrich, The Future of Children, Volume 24 Number 1, Spring 2014

From the summary:
Since modern welfare reform began in the 1980s, we have seen low-income parents leave the welfare rolls and join the workforce in large numbers. At the same time, the Earned Income Tax Credit has offered a monetary incentive for low-income parents to work. Thus, unlike some of the other two-generation mechanisms discussed in this issue of Future of Children, policies that encourage low-income parents to work are both widespread and well-entrenched in the United States.

But parents’ (and especially mothers’) work, writes Carolyn Heinrich, is not unambiguously beneficial for their children. On the one hand, working parents can be positive role models for their children, and, of course, the income they earn can improve their children’s lives in many ways. On the other hand, work can impair the developing bond between parents and young children, especially when the parents work long hours or evening and night shifts. The stress that parents bring home from their jobs can detract from their parenting skills, undermine the atmosphere in the home, and thereby introduce stress into children’s lives.

Unfortunately, it is low-income parents who are most likely to work in stressful, low-quality jobs that feature low pay, little autonomy, inflexible hours, and few or no benefits. And low-income children whose parents are working are more likely to be placed in inadequate child care or to go unsupervised. Two-generation approaches, Heinrich writes, could maximize the benefits and minimize the detriments of parents’ work by expanding workplace flexibility, and especially by mandating enough paid leave so that mothers can breastfeed and form close bonds with their infants; by helping parents place their children in high-quality child care; and by helping low-income parents train for, find, and keep a well-paying job with benefits.

Disabling the Gender Pay Gap: Lessons from the Social Model of Disability

Source: Michelle A. Travis, University of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2014-12, April 1, 2014

From the abstract:
As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Title VII’s prohibition against sex-based compensation discrimination in the workplace, the gender wage gap remains robust and progress toward gender pay equity has stalled. This article reveals the role that causal narratives play in undermining the law’s potential for reducing the gender pay gap. The most recent causal narrative is illustrated by the “women don’t ask” and “lean in” storylines, which reveal our society’s entrenched view that women themselves are responsible for their own pay inequality. This causal narrative has also embedded itself in subtle but pernicious ways in antidiscrimination doctrine, which helps shield employers from legal liability for gender pay disparities.

The disability civil rights movement faced a similar challenge, however, and their response provides a potential path forward on gender pay issues. The causal narrative that erected barriers for disability rights was engrained in the medical model of disability, which also identified internal deficits as the source of individuals’ own limitations. The disability rights movement responded with a reconceptualized “social model,” which explains disability instead as the result of the environment in which an individual’s characteristics interact. The social model of disability is an alternative causal narrative: one that shifts focus onto the role played by employer practices and organizational norms in producing inequality. This article explores how a social model approach to women’s compensation could help shift the causal focus away from the manner in which women negotiate, and onto the institutional practices that produce unequal results. In doing so, the social model may help resuscitate Title VII’s disparate impact theory to allow challenges to employment practices that base compensation on employees’ individual demands, thereby moving us toward more effective structural solutions to the gender pay divide.

Women In The Labor Force: A Databook

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS Report 1049, May 2014

Women’s participation in labor force activities has greatly expanded since the end of World War II. Immediately following the war, less than one-third of women were in the labor force. However, women soon began to participate in greater numbers, and their labor force participation rose rapidly from the 1960s through the 1980s before slowing in the 1990s. By 1999, women reached the peak of their labor force participation, 60 percent. Since then, however, labor force participation among women has declined. Nonetheless, women’s labor force participation remains relatively high by historical standards, particularly among women with children, and a large share of women work full time and year round. In addition, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education: among women ages 25 to 64 who are in the labor force, the proportion with a college degree more than tripled from 1970 to 2012. Women’s earnings as a proportion of men’s earnings also have grown over time. In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men earned; in 2012, women’s earnings were 81 percent of men’s. This report presents historical and recent labor force and earnings data for women and men from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a national monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unless otherwise noted, data are annual averages from the CPS.

Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world

Source: Laura Addati, Naomi Cassirer and Katherine Gilchrist, International Labour Organization (ILO), 978-92-2-128630-1[ISBN], 2014

From the summary:
This report provides a picture of where we stand and what we have learned so far about maternity and paternity rights across the world. It offers a rich international comparative analysis of law and practice relating to maternity protection at work in 185 countries and territories, comprising leave, cash benefits, employment protection and non-discrimination, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare. Expanding on previous editions, it is based on an extensive set of new legal and statistical indicators, including coverage in law and in practice of paid maternity leave as well as statutory provision of paternity and parental leave and their evolution over the last 20 years.

The report also takes account of the recent economic crisis and austerity measures. It shows how well national laws and practice conform to the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), its accompanying Recommendation (No. 191) and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), and offers guidance on policy design and implementation.

This report shows that a majority of countries have established legislation to protect and support maternity and paternity at work, even if those provisions do not always meet the ILO standards. One of the persistent challenges is the effective implementation of legislation, to ensure that all workers are able to benefit from these essential labour rights.
Maternity leave duration per country
Paternity leave duration per country
Maternity protection makes headway amid vast global gaps
Economic crisis lends unexpected support to families in some countries

Advocating for Better Salaries Toolkit

Source: Editors and Writers: Jennifer Dorning, Tara Dunderdale, Shannon L. Farrell, Aliqae Geraci, Rachel Rubin, Jessica Storrs, American Library Association – Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), Fifth Edition: April 2014

Successful salary improvement efforts begin and end with library workers. This toolkit is designed to provide library workers with the resources and strategies they need to improve their salaries. Library workers are not alone in their fight for fair compensation. …. The toolkit has four parts: Building Your Case for Better Salaries; Pay Equity; Unions; and Speaking Out. This toolkit will be helpful whether you are a librarian, administrator, or support staff.

Part 1 focuses on building the individual library workers’ case for better salaries and providing tools for salary negotiation. To build the case, the toolkit outlines resources to help you determine your fair market value and effectively demonstrate your value and the value of your library. Part 1 also includes information on living wage campaigns and the effect of faculty status on salary. Part 1 concludes with salary negotiation advice for individuals as well as advice aimed at administrators looking to improve staff salaries.

Part 2 outlines the process for initiating a pay equity campaign in your library. This section provides tools for identifying pay inequities in your library and outlines the options for recourse. While legal recourse is available in pay equity cases, this section also outlines the steps libraries can take to revise job descriptions, position classifications, and job evaluations to achieve pay equity.

Part 3 provides resources for library workers who want to seek union representation in their library. This section also outlines the benefits of joining a union as well as frequently asked questions about unions.

Part 4 explains the five steps necessary to presenting an effective case for increasing salaries. Part 4 also looks at how to handle challenges and setbacks when seeking fair pay, including budget cuts, employee turnover, and labor market saturation and recruitment.