A dozen of the nation’s leading women’s organizations issued a letter to every Member of Congress this week urging support for the Employee Free Choice Act legislation that would restore workers’ right to choose to form unions in their workplaces, either through majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election. The Employee Free Choice Act would also offer mediation and, where necessary, arbitration to promptly resolve disputes over first contracts. It would strengthen penalties when workers’ rights are violated during organizing and first contract efforts.
“This legislation is important for women and for all workers,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “Unionized women earn appreciably more than their non-union peers, and are more likely to have critically important health benefits, employer-provided pension plans, and access to the kinds of policies that help workers meet the dual demands of work and family. The National Labor Relations Act has not been updated in 40 years. We need to pass this bill so workers will be able to organize and bargain effectively.”
Numerous studies document the many ways that unions benefit women. One recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that unionized women workers earn an average of 11.2 percent more than their non-union peers, or about $2 more per hour. In addition, women in unions are 19 percent more likely to have health insurance benefits and 25 percent more likely to have an employer-provided pension plan. Of special note, the study showed that unionization strongly benefits women workers in otherwise low-wage occupations.
The letter, addressed to Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell and circulated to every Member of Congress, was organized by the National Partnership for Women & Families. In addition to the National Partnership, signers are: 9to5, National Association of Working Women; Beth Shulman, Senior Fellow at Demos; Coalition of Labor Union Women; Family Values @ Work: A Multi-State Coalition; Feminist Majority; Legal Momentum; National Council of Negro Women; National Council of Women’s Organizations; National Organization for Women; National Women’s Law Center; OWL The Voice of Midlife and Older Women; and Women’s Research & Education Institute.