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Report: ‘The Union Advantage for Women’

“This report makes clear what we in the labor movement know in our bones,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Being in a union helps women access the American Dream and raise their own and their families’ standard of living,” she added.
Click here for Weingarten’s full statement on the report.
“The union advantage for women isn’t a happy accident,” said AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker. “Just like women’s right to vote, it is a hard-won victory — one we’re still fighting to maintain and build on today,” she added.
The report’s release coincided with the 95th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote and notes pay transparency among the fronts where organized labor has led the way. 
“Unions can help close wage gaps related to sex and race, in part by minimizing pay secrecy which makes it difficult for women and men to find out whether they are paid fairly,” the authors stressed. “Non-union workers in the private sector are more than twice as likely as union workers to say that they are discouraged or prohibited from discussing their pay [even though] transparency in criteria and decisions related to compensation, recruitment, and promotions can prevent bias and help women advance in their careers,” they added.
Among the additional highlights of the report:
  • Among full-time workers aged 16 and older, women represented by labor unions earn an average of $212, or 31 percent, more per week than women in non-union jobs;

  • Union women experience a smaller gender wage gap than their counterparts in non-union workplaces; &
  • The union wage advantage extends to women across racial and ethnic groups — the difference in earnings between those with and without union representation is largest for unionized Hispanic women, who have median weekly earnings that are 42 percent higher than those without union representation.
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“Research shows that labor unions tend to raise wages and improve benefits for all represented workers, especially those at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution, who are disproportionately women,” said the report’s authors.
Click here for national press coverage of the report.
“This report is a reminder both of progress made and yet to be achieved,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “While the gender wage gap for women in unions has narrowed, the rest of the female workforce earns less than their male counterparts. It’s release on Women’s Equality Day is a call to action to organize not just in our workplaces but in our communities,” she added.
“I have witnessed the union advantage for women firsthand,” said AFT Connecticut Executive Vice President John Brady. “Before we organized our local union, the pay for registered nurses with the same experience was vastly different — and male nurses on average made more than their female colleagues. Now, with a union contract, all the nurses at Backus Hospital are paid based on experience, not their gender,” he added.
The report is the latest in the “Status of Women in the States” series spearheaded by IWPR and supported by a coalition of labor, equal rights and social justice organizations. The project has previously released data-driven public policy reports on older women, millennials, same-sex households, women of color and immigrant women.
Click here to learn more about the Status of Women in the States project.

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