FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2022
WASHINGTON – The heads of America’s leading labor unions joined U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and advocates from across America today for a virtual labor summit to recognize the critical role of women in the economy, celebrate the labor movement’s achievements, and highlight urgently-needed priorities for women in the workforce. Today’s summit is available to view online here.
Speakers who took part in today’s “Women, Work and A Better Future” Labor Summit, which was held in March to commemorate Women’s History Month, reinforced the importance of Congress making additional investments, as President Biden has proposed, that will lift women workers and ensure an economic recovery that rebuilds America’s middle class and expands opportunities for working families to get ahead.
As the American economy recovers, it is critical to center the experiences of women — Black, Latina, Indigenous, and women with disabilities especially — to ensure a stronger society that lifts up all communities and leaves no one out. Women of color often play outsized roles in their families, meaning that when their income lags behind their peers, it has an outsized impact on their communities. President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which the U.S. House has already sent to the Senate, contains the most significant investment on record in creating good jobs for working women of color. It is critical that the Senate maintain these investments in any legislative package they send back to the House.
“Today, we are shining a light on the invaluable contributions of women at work and at home. It’s critical that women are at the heart of the national economic recovery plan,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “That’s why we need to make sure women have the support they need to succeed in their jobs and in caring for their children, older loved ones, and loved ones with disabilities. Now is the time for action.”
“So many people, mainly women, have been sidelined by the pandemic because they’re primary caregivers,” said Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO. “And a half a million working people are still out of the workforce – because the dependent care system in our country is so badly broken. This isn’t just a women’s issue. This is a family issue. This is a working person’s issue. This is a core economic issue. Care work makes all other work possible. That’s the bottom line. And care jobs should be good jobs with livable wages, benefits and protections.”
“From garment workers at the turn of the last century to today’s teachers, nurses and the indomitable people who keep our care economy going, it’s often women—especially those in female-dominated professions—that have led the fights for safe and fair working conditions, upward mobility and a voice in the workplace,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Our members, and especially our women members—like food service worker Janine Miller, who fed children every day of the pandemic despite schools being closed and teacher and activist Marcia Howard who helps organize community events at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis—have recognized that together, they can accomplish far more than they would alone. That’s where the very idea of solidarity comes from, and why I believe so strongly that unions can serve as a powerful tool, particularly for women and people of color, to find a voice, and exercise it in a way that doesn’t just benefit them, but benefits their entire community.”
“As we look ahead and fight for a real recovery from the pandemic hardship, it’s clear who has been most impacted—women, people of color, and workers,” said Gwen Mills Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE hospitality workers’ Union. “Women leaders are paving the way for all workers to come back stronger. We invite working women everywhere to join our movement.”
“Federal care policies are critical to support working parents in caring for their families, obtaining needed health care, and balancing work and family responsibilities,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions. “NABTU understands that more must be done to lift up care providers and reduce the burden on working families seeking care. We want to provide better options for our members, and we will continue exploring ways to help on this issue until it is solved, not just for women, but all workers and their families.”
“An investment in home and community-based services will be game-changing for so many – for care workers who are mothers; for sons and daughters with aging parents; for immigrant workers who are demanding a pathway to citizenship, for not yet union care workers who deserve good-paying union jobs, and for people with disabilities so they can continue living with independence,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015 & Chair of SEIU Home Care Council. “Leaders in Washington need to understand that inaction is not an option. It’s time they make a historical decision, to build a desperately needed care infrastructure that will improve the lives of millions of home care workers, families and consumers.”