In the fight for equality, women in the tech industry can learn from the Successes Women Have Had in the Labor Movement

Via The Coalition For Labor Union Women (CLUW)

In an article at Alternet, Brigid O’Farrell takes a look at the problem of sexism in the tech industry and suggests that women in tech could learn from the successes women have had in the labor movement:

Women who laugh off the behavior of the “boys,” the declining percent of women and their limited job categories and lower pay may be facing yet another long fight for equality. Women tech leaders like Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook advise women to “lean in.” Union women, on the other hand, suggest that women learn to “lean together.” Women and men of the tech industry might just learn something from the labor movement today.[…]

The labor federation [AFL-CIO] represents 57 unions and more than 12 million members, nearly half of whom are women. According to the Department of Labor, union women earn more than women who don’t have a union on the job, with median weekly earnings of $877, compared to $663 for nonunion women. They are more likely to have health insurance, pensions and sick leave. They also have a voice at work. The new AFL-CIO Women’s Initiative calls for “equality in pay and opportunity for all; the right of women to control their own bodies and be free from violence; and the right of every woman to meet her fullest potential and the opportunity to serve—and lead—her community. Nothing less.”

Union women are speaking out about the need for protections for women and challenging discrimination. Randy Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member AFT, supports the new inclusive measures being proposed by her union to expand labor’s voice and build labor’s strength for both public- and private-sector unions; not just for teachers, but for all workers.

Executive Director of the National Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai, who [was recently elected] to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, speaks movingly of her organization’s struggles on behalf of immigrant workers and the need for taxi drivers to have basic protections at work. She gives one chilling example of a woman who was raped by her customers and left in the trunk of her taxi to die, only for her family to find that the taxi company cared most about her final month’s payment for the taxi. Domestic workers like Myrtle Witbooi, the South African chair of the International Domestic Workers Network, are giving powerful voices to workers who have been too often pushed aside and for whom strong unions can make a big difference.

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