On March 8, International women’s day was marked by speeches, blogs, articles and events worldwide. Women make up over 40 percent of global labor force and unions, which remain a powerful force for women’s workplace equality, have been there every step of the way.
Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU issued the following statement in honor of International Women’s Day: “Even as we celebrate National Women’s Equality Day, we cannot lose sight of the work yet to be done to achieve full equality. The remaining wage gap in this country is an affront to the millions of hardworking women who deserve the same compensation as their male counterparts.”
Unions have been a powerful force for women’s equality. Collective bargaining cuts down on employer favoritism, which helps women—and importantly, women of color—get a fair chance at work. Unions protect workers’ rights regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and union membership lifts wages significantly for women.
Unions, like SEIU, have helped boost socio-economic status for working women:
Unions helped pass legislation key to equal rights for working women including:
- The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963
Unions continually defend the rights of women in the workplace, fighting discrimination and working for wage equality.
- Unions supported Lilly Ledbetter in her claim of gender-based wage discrimination, a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, and helped pass legislation making it easier for victims of wage discrimination to seek compensation.
Unions continue to help boost working women’s earning power.
- Women in unions make 33% more non-union women, and are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and pensions.3 The benefits of union membership are especially large for women in low-wage occupations.