This Women’s History Month, We’re Thankful for Unions
Unions won us the weekend. They won us eight-hour workdays. They won us child labor laws. They won us a minimum wage, and so much more. Unfortunately through the decades, union membership has declined due to several factors, like the brutal anti-union tactics by employers, Reagan’s good ole economic legacy of “trickle down economics,” that failed to invest in labor, and the misleading “right to work” laws that leave the right to organize insufficiently protected. To no one’s surprise, all this has led to an increase in the disturbingly huge wealth gap inequality between classes in this country.
However, things are changing. NWLC research shows that the labor movement is having a much deserved resurgence, and as of 2021, public approval for unions in the United States was at the highest point in 56 years. And as of right now, almost half of workers (46.8%) who are members of a union are women. It’s time we increase that number.
While unions are beneficial for all workers, union membership is especially important for women workers. Since unions fight for pay transparency, this transparency around salary forces employers to address any unjustified disparities between employees. Because of that, women in unions make higher wages and experience smaller gender wage gaps, making the overall gender wage gap for union members about half the size of the wage gap for those not represented by a union.
Women joining the labor movement is crucial in creating the economic justice we need to see in this country—it always has been. From the legendary Dolores Huerta, who organized farm workers in the 1950s, to May Chen, who led the New York Chinatown strike of 1982 (one of the largest Asian American worker strikes), to the Jon Donaire bakery’s women workers who recently organized and went on strike for four months to fight for higher wages, better benefits, and working conditions —and won! Women have always and will always be a powerful force of the labor movement and we must continue to fight for the worker rights we all deserve.
Happy Women’s History Month. Now let’s keep making history!