Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.
This post is the eighth and last in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.
Like other labor force development institutions, labor unions and professional associations are important institutions that undergird our economy, increase the quality of work rewards, and improve workplace productivity and efficiency. Labor unions deserve credit for many of the workplace policies that Americans now take for granted—a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, pay for overtime, and protections from health and safety hazards. The labor movement continues to champion local, state, and national policies such as equal pay, paid sick days, paid family leave, quality and affordable childcare, higher minimum wages, and improved health and retirement benefits.
Gender and racial bias is minimized in environments where hiring, pay, and promotion criteria are more transparent. Women, and especially women of color, who are either affiliated with a union or whose job is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, earn higher wages and are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and retirement benefits than women who are not in unions or covered by union contracts.
In order to support a women-centered economic agenda, voters, policymakers, and community leaders should:
■ Support policies that protect and strengthen collective bargaining and other basic worker protections.
■ Work with unions to help organize women and workers of color and encourage their development as leaders.
With the increased importance of climate change and the disproportionate impact that natural disasters have on women and people of color, any economic agenda needs to include an understanding of climate change. Much like the Green New Deal, future economic agendas should work to ensure that climate issues are continually addressed through economic and social policy that improve equity along with protecting and restoring the environment.
This series was prepared by Elyse Shaw and Heidi Hartmann at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Financial Support was provided by the NoVo Foundation.