By JoAnne Powers, May 6, 2016
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler says working women and their issues are critical in this election year. The AFL-CIO is releasing results of its national survey of Working Women, highlighting those issues and providing direction for both the labor movement and the nation’s politicians on what working women need. The issue of equal pay is still front and center on the minds of working women.
[Liz Shuler]: “Working women make 79 cents on the dollar overall, and it’s even worse for women of color. So, African-American women, for example it’s 63 cents on the dollar and for Latino women 54 cents. In this day and age in 2016 we should not still be having this conversation. This isn’t just a women’s issue. Women are forty percent of the breadwinners in this country. So, when women are making less for the same work, it’s affecting families overall.”
Shuler says the labor movement is using direct feedback from thousands of working women to advocate improvements across a range of vital issues.
[Liz Shuler]: “The labor movement is on the front lines of policy changes. We’re advocating in congress for legislation on equal pay and quality child care and paid family leave, paid sick leave and making sure people can take time off and not have to worry about taking care of their families or making the choice to lose their job in the process. So, yes, the labor movement will be elevating these issues in not only 2016 but beyond. And then locally we are seeing coalitions forming and the labor movement is working with women’s groups and community organizations to make sure that these work and family policies are on the agenda for everyone.”
The union is touring three states this week to draw attention to the survey and issues facing working women. In Milwaukee on Thursday, Shuler spoke to Women of Steel, members of the Steelworkers union facing challenges to women in that industry. Shuler says women face similar issues across the country:
[Liz Shuler]: “Whether it was Miami, Dayton, Ohio, Columbus, right here in Milwaukee, women are facing very similar issues, regardless of the sector. We spoke to tradeswomen last night, women in non-traditional occupations who are still facing challenges with regard to promotions and accessing opportunities and discrimination.
Shuler says the AFL-CIO survey is a key piece of the union’s Working Women’s Agenda:
[Liz Shuler]: “Women are half the workforce. We’ll be half the union movement in ten years, and the issues that affect working women are front and center in this election. So, I think it’s our job in the labor movement to show that we are a movement for working women, that we care about the issues that are relevant to working women, and we’re gonna be out there fighting for them.”