For weeks, protests have raged in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s plan to strip public employees, except for police, state troopers, and firefighters, of collective bargaining rights. Democratic lawmakers fled the state to prevent the bill from coming to a vote. Last night, in a procedural move that some are calling illegal, the Wisconsin State Senate, minus the Democratic lawmakers, passed the bill.
Why does the matter to women? Because women are the teachers, nurses, administrative assistants, child care workers, and home health care workers providing vital services to local communities who will be harmed by this attack on workers’ rights. Women are the majority of state and local employees, and given the Wisconsin exemption for police and firefighters, the great majority of those affected by the Wisconsin law. Collective bargaining raises women’s workers wages and helps close the gender wage gap, achieving greater economic security for women and their families. It improves working conditions for women, which in many instances not only helps women workers, but also those who depend on their services. If more nurses work a particular shift, patients benefit. If child care workers receive additional training, parents and children benefit.
The law passed yesterday in Wisconsin is just one example of a nationwide attack on public employees. To learn more about women’s stake in the fight, check out our new factsheet, and take a closer look at what’s happening in your own state. Are women workers bearing the brunt of this battle?