Friday, April 03, 2009

Unions, Women and Fair Labor Practices

Jill at Feministe was kind enough to run a guest post from yours truly on the Employee Free Choice Act, unions, and why they're feminist issues. I'm going to give you the beginning here, but ask you nicely to read the rest over there since she gave me the platform.

So our economy is falling apart, right? And the government keeps bailing out these massive financial firms while talking Very Sternly to the auto company CEOs about how they need to restructure and cut costs. Of course, the number one cost CEOs and reporters love to talk about is the “labor cost,” all the while nicely avoiding mentioning that “labor cost” is what real people make in wages and other benefits.

Unions, in other words, are a convenient bogeyman, yet they do and have done more to improve the living standards of American workers than anything else. And 44% of union workers are women. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

“If the share of women in unions continues to grow at the same rate as it has over the last 25 years, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce by 2020.”

There’s a bill in Congress right now that you’ve probably heard of called the Employee Free Choice Act. Briefly, the bill would allow three things: it would allow workers to form a union simply by signing a card—the so-called “card check” provision; it would provide binding arbitration for employers and workers when they cannot agree on a contract; and it would strengthen penalties against employers who seek to intimidate workers trying to form a union.

And I believe it should be a feminist issue.

Read the whole damn thing.