Why Is This Woman Smoking At Her Desk? Doesn’t She Know What Year It Is?

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With Mad Men wrapping up this season, we will no longer be getting a weekly dose of what the workplace was like during the 1960′s.

Well, in a way, we will.

Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks appeared in a video on the site Funny Or Die this week in which she points out that when it comes to wages for women and the gender pay gap, we’re very much stuck in the 1960′s.

Hendricks appears as her Mad Men character Joan Holloway, recently hired at a modern office. She is hopelessly out of place: she can’t use the modern phones, mixes a martini instead of using the water cooler, and even tries to erase text on her computer with the back of a pencil.

When questioned about her odd behavior, she brings up a few key statistics: women make 23 percent less than their male counterparts, nearly 70 percent of minimum wage workers are women, and only 15 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female.

“So I figure if we’re going to run our businesses like it’s the 1960′s,” she says, “I’m going to act like it.”

“Or I could’ve had a stroke…I smoke a lot.”

Here’s what Hendricks doesn’t mention: that lawmakers across the country are working to to make these grim statistics a thing of the past, and that there are forces fighting equally as hard to keep the status quo.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would have made it harder for companies to pay women less than men and easier for women to take legal action against employers who deliberately pay them less. On April 9, 43 Republican Senators and 1 Independent joined to filibuster the bill, requiring a 60 vote threshold and denying us a public debate.

As for low wages, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, but it never reached an up-or-down vote. On April 30, 41 Republicans lead by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered the bill. All this while at least 69 percent of Americans support raising the wage.

(More on the ridiculousness of these filibuster votes and how the media reports them.)

Luckily, there’s been action in the states. In June, Massachusetts became the tenth state this year to raise the minimum wage, a list that includes Republican-dominated Michigan. And Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) signed into law a statewide version of Sen Mikulski’s pay gap bill in the Granite State.

Like its viral video hit “Minimum Wage Mary Poppins” last month, Funny Or Die is writing the book on how to use parody videos to shed light on economic issues. But often, when you include the part of the story about the individuals and forces working hard to keep things the way they are–or make them worse–everyone stops laughing.

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9 Key Facts About Women Workers Today

Liz Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

Today, we earn more college degrees and have infinitely more choices, but what has it meant? Take a look:

  • Progress toward gender equality has stalled. Women’s annual earnings are just 77% of men’s.
  • Most (60%) of women’s job gains during the economic recovery have been in low-wage jobs.
  • The unemployment rate for young (ages 16 to 24) women workers is 14.5%.
  • 43% of women working in the private sector are not able to take a single paid sick day when they are ill, and more than half of working mothers (54%) do not have even a few paid sick days they can use to care for their sick children.
  • Women in unions, on average, make 12.9% more than their nonunion counterparts, are 36.8% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and are 53.4% more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

How can we get progress on gender equality moving again? We could start by raising the minimum wage, enacting family-friendly policies like the FAMILY Act, investing in good jobs and restoring collective bargaining rights so all workers can stand together.

Photo by National Nurses United on Facebook

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Despite Gains, Millennial Women See Career Roadblocks Ahead

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that millennial women, who are between 18 and 32 years old, recognize that while women have made gains in the workforce in recent decades, many of the roadblocks that have limited the careers of previous generations of women will cause them problems, too. Women who have entered the workforce in the past decade start off more equal to men in terms of pay than any previous generation and they are more educated than both earlier generations of women and men of the same age group. But they believe that, like earlier generations, they will fall further behind men in terms of pay equity once they have children.

Young female workers (those between 25 and 34) earn 93% of what men earn, compared with the overall workforce in which women earn only 84% of what men make (when wages are controlled for hours worked). Millennial women were more likely than millennial men to have a college degree (38% compared with 31%), so the difference in pay isn’t based on education. Pew Research cites experts who suggest that gender stereotypes, discrimination, professional networks that are more robust for men than for women and hesitancy on the part of women to aggressively negotiate for raises and promotions account for 20% to 40% of the wage gap.

The wage gap between men and women has decreased in recent decades—in 1980, women made only 64% of what men made. Part of the shrinking disparity is an increase in women’s wages, which have risen 25% in the past 30 years. But more recently part of it is because of decreasing wages for men, who have seen their pay decline 4% since 1980.

Other findings of the survey:

  • 75% say the country needs to make changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace (compared with 57% of men).
  • 63% say having children will make it harder for them to advance in their career.
  • 15% say they’ve been discriminated against because of their gender.
  • 34% say they are not interested in becoming a manager (24% of men).
  • 51% say society favors men over women; only 6% say society favors women over men.
  • 42% say they have asked for a raise in their working life (48% of men).

Read the full report.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Unless Something Changes, it Will Take Women 45 Years to Earn as Much as Men

Women will not receive the same median annual pay as men until 2058, if current earnings patterns continue without change, announced the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) this week.

“Progress in closing the gender wage gap has stalled during the most recent decade. The wage gap is still at the same level as it was in 2002,” said Heidi Hartmann, president of IWPR. “If the five-decade trend is projected forward, it will take almost another five decades—until 2058—for women to reach pay equity. The majority of today’s working women will be well past the ends of their working lives.”

IWPR released a new fact sheet that tracks the pay gap from 1960 to today and analyzes changes during the past year by gender, race and ethnicity.

“While there is no silver bullet for closing the gender wage gap,” said Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at IWPR and author of the fact sheet, “strengthened enforcement of our EEO laws, a higher minimum wage and work–family benefits would go a significant way toward ensuring that working women are able to support their families.”

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Gender Equality: The Unfinished Business of the Labor Movement

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center website.

Women at every level are “moving the labor movement in new directions” and “inventing new kinds of worker organizations and new ways of being a trade unionist,” says labor historian Dorothy Sue Cobble.

Gender equality is the “unfinished business of the labor movement,” said Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau in the conference’s keynote speech. “The strategic exploitation of women workers for the economic gain of business is one of the key global dynamics driving down wages and working conditions and keeping working people from their rights across the globe.Cobble, distinguished professor of history and labor studies at Rutgers University, was among several speakers opening a two-day Solidarity Center conference this morning, “Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality and Labor Rights: Transforming the Terrain.” Nearly 100 labor and community activists from 20 countries are gathered here in São Paulo, Brazil, to share strategies for achieving gender equality and worker rights in their unions and their workplaces.

“If we want to stem the unrelenting race to the bottom, we must fight for workers at the bottom of the supply chain, starting with the women,” she said.

Three Brazilian trade union leaders described their efforts to make gender equality and women’s issues central to their unions and part of legislative priorities.

“We have fought very hard, we Brazilian women, to take up the spaces of power,” said Maria Auxiliadora dos Santos, women’s secretary at Força Sindical. “We have to say, `Men will not speak in our name.’” More than 100 million women live in Brazil, yet they hold only 13.7 percent of executive positions and are only 22 percent of management, dos Santos said. But over the past 10 years, the governing Worker’s Party has enabled women to make tremendous gains because of the focus on alleviating poverty and improving the economic rights of workers.

Rosana Sousa de Deus, an executive committee member from Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT); Cassia Bufelli, women’s secretary at União Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT); and Lais Abramo, director of the International Labor Organization in Brazil, also spoke this morning.

Gertrude Mtsweni, national gender coordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), shared how women unionists pushed for the creation of a full-time gender coordinator position and gender coordinator chairpersons throughout COSATU. “A conscious effort was made to build an active gender structure,” Mtsweni said. The federation also integrates gender issues in collective bargaining and wages campaigns on a variety of issues crucial for women, including prevention of workplace sexual harassment and violence and creation of child care facilities.

Sally Choi, project coordinator for the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) on China and International Affairs, discussed HKCTU`s recent victory in moving the government toward improving the nation’s workplace sexual harassment laws, so that women in service and retail jobs are covered. An organizer and researcher, Choi has coordinated gender and labor programs in mainland China and has been active in the local women’s movement in Hong Kong for 10 years.

As Cobble summed up the conference goal: “Our challenge over the next two days is to think about how to sustain these new efforts, to learn from and spread their wisdom, to capture their stories and let the world know that labor women will not and are not being silenced.”

Check out more posts on women in the international labor movement from the Solidarity Center herehere and here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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