News and Events

#100YearsofVoting: Labor, Justice and the Fight for Democracy

On August 18, 1920, women gained the Constitutional right to vote after a century-long fight for equal representation. This year will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. With less than 80 days to the 2020 election, the urgency to mobilize working women to vote is paramount in the goal of electing women candidates and candidates who advocate for women, and to getting this country back on track in the wake of the pandemic and its disproportionate impact on women, especially women of color.


In honor of the anniversary, the Office of Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler is hosting a roundtable discussion to celebrate women’s right to vote and uplifting the issues affecting working women. Join us for a conversation between AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, President Randi Weingarten, Vice-President Cindy Estrada, Alvina Yeh, Cassandra Hammond, and Dr. C.Nicole Mason on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 6:30pm EST.


Click here to RSVP to the event.

PED Training

In 2019, the LIUNA Women’s Caucus joined the African American and Latino Caucuses to create opportunities for members in the Public Sector to receive LIUNA training. The result of the Supreme Court decision on the Janus Case made it much harder for Public Sector locals to maintain their membership numbers. Recognizing this, the Caucuses established a Joint Caucus Scholarship Fund to help defray expenses for members attending this training. The scholarships are available to members in all Regions of LIUNA. This training is intended for individuals who are relatively new to their position within the Public, Healthcare, Education or Federal Sector or other non-construction Local Unions as Stewards, Executive Board members, Officers, or as new staff members. However, experienced individuals are also welcome to attend the training.

The 2019 recipient of this scholarship was Corey Webster, a Field Representative of Local 363 in Minneapolis, MN. Take a moment to read Corey’s thoughts on this training below.


This class was an eye-opening experience looking into the history and purpose unions! Especially the Laborers/Hod carriers.  Learning the history and understanding where you come from, really helps guide us into the future.

The Unions are more important now or just as important than ever.  They must be very important if the powers that be are trying to destroy and disband the unions as we know them. The union has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember!  The passion I have for the union was clear and present from the beginning of this class (Every Instructor showed knowledge and passion).  This helped me solidify my feelings for the union.

Learning all about the union will help me become a better Field Rep.  As we all know, the best Salesmen know their product.

I feel the knowledge I have gained from this class has strengthened me as a Field Rep and made the union stronger!  I can’t wait until the next learning opportunity.

In Solidarity,

Corey Webster

Improving Safety & Health for Women in Construction

There are over 11 million workers in the U.S. construction industry, but only 3.4 percent of frontline workers on construction jobsites are women. With demand for skilled tradespeople increasing, more employers are turning their attention to recruiting women into the construction industry. To accomplish that goal, both labor and management must take time to understand and eliminate the barriers stopping more women from choosing a career in construction. 

While many construction hazards affect men and women equally, some issues have a disproportionate impact on female construction workers. Recognizing and addressing these specific hazards, which include both physical health risks and issues related to mental health, has the potential to improve safety and health for all workers on site, regardless of gender.

1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In today’s construction environment, the vast majority of PPE, including respirators, fall protection harnesses, gloves and safety goggles are still designed with men in mind. The majority of PPE available on jobsites is too large for women or does not fit correctly. Ill-fitting PPE puts women at risk for caught-on/in/between hazards or health hazards when, for example, a respirator doesn’t adequately protect against chemical exposures. PPE that interferes with work or is uncomfortable is less likely to be worn at all, putting both the worker and the company at risk.

2. Sexual Harassment & Workplace Culture

Hostile work environments, sexual harassment, workplace isolation and fear of retaliation for reporting workplace hazards or harassment are a reality for many women in construction.

A hostile workplace can lead to numerous safety and health concerns, including long-term stress and other physical and mental health effects. Even the perception that harassment is permitted or tolerated can have negative impacts on a company’s ability to recruit and retain female workers. This includes situations where victims are punished for reporting, perpetrators are not appropriately punished for harassment or reports are not taken seriously.

3. Increased Risk for MSDs

Women are between two and five times more likely to experience upper body sprains and strains at work than men. Excessive lifting of heavy objects, performing repetitive motions and working in unusual or awkward positions for prolonged periods are all known risk factors for back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), regardless of gender. Strength, size, age and anatomical differences all play a role in the number of lifts a person’s body can tolerate. In addition, hand tools are typically standardized to fit a man’s hand and tend to be too large for a woman’s hand to grip tightly. All of these factors lead to women having to exert more force for the same task, which puts them at greater risk for injury. 

Photo courtesy of LECET Northwest

4. Reproductive Hazards in the Workplace

Construction workers have the potential to be exposed to chemicals and other hazardous substances at work. Many of these chemicals affect the reproductive system or other systems in the body, putting women who are at reproductive age at increased risk. Some employers have historically dealt with this by denying job access to women, effectively limiting work opportunities. This practice could also lead female workers to hide a pregnancy to maintain their job, possibly endangering themselves and the fetus. Although this article focuses on women, male workers can also be exposed to reproductive hazards. 

5. Inadequate or Unsanitary Toilet Facilities

Temporary toilet facilities are typically unisex and often lack clean toilet seats and hand-washing options. Doors that don’t lock, toilets with broken locks or poorly located toilets are all potential problems for female construction workers. Access to safe and clean toilet facilities for women in the workplace removes these stressors, allowing female workers to concentrate on performing their jobs properly and safely.

Building a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion

Photo courtesy of LECET Northwest

Construction employers should also work to address other issues that are less tangible, but no less important. At a basic level, many female workers do not feel welcome on construction jobsites. Examples could include not being given the same peer support on the job as their male counterparts, on-the-job training being limited to observation in an attempt to protect them from difficult assignments or being assigned the same routine tasks over and over again instead of progressing to more complex, skills-based tasks. This lack of opportunity denies women the ability to adequately learn their trade and build a career as a productive employee.

These examples may not violate any OSHA laws, yet they are real examples of the challenges women face in the industry. Successful companies create an environment that fosters respect and understanding and provides the same level of safety and job opportunity to all workers. In short, some of the old-school attitudes and culture within the construction industry must evolve.  

The LHSFNA’s new pamphlet, Women in Construction: Improving Workplace Safety & Health, includes more information on the hazards listed above, including steps that both employers and workers can take to address these issues. To order, visit the Fund’s website at and click on Publications. 


Applications to the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership Training Academy Class of 2020 are now open!

IWIL is seeking women from all over Illinois who are interested in running for office. Their annual classes are kept small to allow for the most impactful, in-depth training. Trainees spend over 125 hours learning from industry experts focusing on leadership development, communications strategy, advanced fundraising techniques, and much more. Throughout the year-long training, the class travels across Illinois and to Washington, DC -- a unique opportunity that separates IWIL Training Academy from many other programs.

Studies show that women need to be asked to run for office -- so they're asking YOU to apply or to ask a woman leader you know to apply to our program! 

Applications will close Friday, November 8th at 10:00 pm CT. For more information, visit their application online here or please contact their team at

Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership is seeking women from all over Illinois who are interested in running for office. Their annual classes are kept small to allow for the most impactful, in-depth training. Trainees spend over 125 hours learning from industry experts focusing on leadership development, communications strategy, advanced fundraising techniques, and much more. Throughout the year-long training, the class travels across Illinois and to Washington, DC -- a unique opportunity that separates IWIL Training Academy from many other programs.

Studies show that women need to be asked to run for office -- so they're asking you to apply or to ask a woman leader to apply to their program! 

Applications will close Monday, November 12th at 10:00 pm CTFor more information, visit their website or contact their team at   To apply you can find the application online here. 

Next Generation of Rosies

Below is a link to a survey for retired Tradeswomen that ANEW, co-host of the 2018 Women Build Nations Conference, is collecting data for the “Next Generation of Rosie’s” to be honored at the Women Build Nations Conference in October. If you are a retired Tradeswomen, be sure to take the survey.  The hope is to get 200 bios, so please help spread to the word to any retired Tradeswomen you know!


Every year, UALE (United Association for Labor Education) sponsors 4 regional “women’s schools”. These residential programs typically last between 4 and 5 days, and include classes and workshops on a variety of union-related topics. Women from all over the country and beyond learn the skills and knowledge needed to play leadership roles in their unions. Visitors from unions in other countries frequently participate. One of the most valuable aspects of the schools is the chance to meet and network with other union women from around the region and beyond.

Encouraged by the the rising feminist movement and the founding of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the UCLEA (University and College Labor Education Association) launched its first school in 1975 at the University of Connecticut. The residential schools bring together rank and file women workers, officers and staff to strengthen their knowledge of the labor movement and develop skills which will enable them to become more active and influential in their unions. The schools are a place where women unionists can share experiences and give one another support. The schools have educated thousands, many of whom have become leaders of their unions. 

Current union women summer schools are coordinated by the UALE Women's Committee and rotate in location as they are hosted by university labor education programs in each region. Scholarships are available. Classes are supplemented with networking opportunities. Often participants engage in demonstrations relating to local labor struggles.

See “Upcoming/current Summer Schools” for this year’s schedules and locations.

Sonia Lozano, Public Service Employees Local 572, Camp Springs, MD

Sister Sonia Lozano began her career with the Laborers Local 572 began as a rank and file member translating for her coworkers in 2004. Her work ethic, selfless dedication and superb managerial skills quickly earned her the respect and recognition for greater responsibility giving her the opportunity to serve as the Office Manager. Subsequently, Sonia’s consistent dedication for growth and loyalty led to her assignment as the Assistant Business Manager. On May 2010, she became the first elected Latino Secretary Treasurer in Local 572.


Sister Lozano has also served as the:

  • Delegate, Baltimore Washington Construction and Public Employees Laborers District Council Since 2008 and elected Executive Board Member in 2016
  • District Council PAC Treasurer since 2013
  • LIUNA Latino Caucus Board Member since 2012
  • Election Officer, Commonweal of Virginia Since 2007
  • Recording Secretary, Washington Metal Trades Council
  • Assistant Business Manager since 2007


Educational Accomplishments include:

  1. Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration at The National Labor College (Magna Cum Laude), graduating class of 2014.
  2. Associate of Science degree in Business Administration at Northern Virginia Community College. 


She is proud Union member, community leader, activist, military wife and mother of two children.  

Judy Simpson, Local 773, Marion, Illinois

Sister Judy Simpson began her journey with LiUNA in 2003 when a co-worker approached her with the idea of organizing their workplace. Judy joined the organizing committee and within the year, the employees of Southern Illinois University Libraries won their organizing campaign. Their first contract was finalized in 2004 and she became a union member.


Before accepting the position of steward, Judy prepared herself by taking Labor Studies courses offered through the University of Illinois, Labor Education Program (LEP). She then became a Steward and a year later, Chief Steward. During her tenure as Chief Steward, she took her membership from barely 51% to 94%.


She has attended women’s conferences offered by the Southern & Central Illinois Laborers’ District Council and the Midwest Region. Other training came from the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference and the Midwest School for Working Women. In 2016 she won the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Alumna of the Year. Judy also sits on the board of the Illinois Labor History Society.


In 2014, Judy left her work at the library to take on a new challenge. She was hired by Local 773 as a Field Representative where she works with a large variety of members. Her groups included school bus drivers, county & municipal workers, factory workers, mental health providers, and of course librarians.

Edwina Patterson, Local 563, Minneapolis, MN

For 12 years Sister Edwina Patterson worked as a Nurse’s Assistant.  In 2013, Edwina decided she could do better than “make ends meet,” so she joined the Laborers’ Apprenticeship Program and now works heavy highway and road construction making twice as much as she did as a Nurse’s Assistant.   During her Apprenticeship, she received the Klein Tool Award for being an outstanding Apprentice.  With only a few years under her belt as a Laborer, Edwina has quickly stepped up as a leader and a strong advocate for Unions.  At the 2016 Women Build Nations Conference, she received the Emerging Tradeswomen Award.  At the beginning of this year, Edwina was one of 12 Tradeswomen selected to participate in “Building Bridges 2017: The First U.S. Tradeswomen Delegation to India.”  Sister Patterson was one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Edna Social Justice Award given by the Berger-Marks Foundation for her work advocating for more people of color and women in the Building Trades.


Edwina is also a core member of both the People of Color Union Members and MN Tradeswomen, she’s as a member of the National Tradeswomen Task Force and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.   


Tomorrow is the big day! On September 27, 2016, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.

According to exit polls, 53 percent of voters in the 2012 elections were women, which means that women determined the outcome of the presidential election. So with that in mind, it is crucial to register unregistered women who understand the needs of working families.

CLUW members, here are actions you can take for National Voter Registration Day:

  • Find an activity in your area – search via zip code, or contact your local chapter to see if they will be hosting a registration event themselves.
  • Use our League of Women Voters Registration Tool available on sidebar of the CLUW website. With this tool, you can input your address to find information about polling locations, check your voter registration status, register to vote, and more.
  • Contact your local elections office for voter registration forms and state-specific rules
  • Post your voter registration drive to the Events Map
    • MTV will be publicizing this map for National Voter Registration Day
  • Spread the word about the amazing activities happening around the nation by using #VoterRegistrationDay
  • You can find more social media shareables like the one below in the Partner Toolkit

Please make sure you document the activities you participate in – take photos with your cell phone, provide the names and location of those participating, include any organizations with whom you are partnering and send this information to: with Voter Registration in the Subject Line.

Remember, every election year we’ve all heard people say that they couldn’t vote because they missed the deadline to register. Let’s make sure their registration is securely submitted long before the earliest state deadlines!

LiUNA Sisters Gather in Las Vegas, NV for National Convention
Sisters United!  Check out this amazing picture of LiUNA Women attending the National Convention in Las Vegas, NV!  Can you feel the power?  Yes, you can!


The Berger-Marks Foundation is now accepting nominations through September 16th for its 2016 Edna Award for Social Justice and Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Award.

The 6th annual Edna Award, named after Edna Berger, the namesake of the Foundation and an early organizer at The Newspaper Guild-CWA, is a$10,000 award given to a young woman who has made significant contributions to social justice and whose leadership inspires social change. In addition to the winner, the Berger-Marks Foundation will award two other exceptional nominees with $1,000 Edna Awards of Distinction.

The 3rd annual Kate Mullany Award, named for Kate Mullany, an inspiring young laundry worker who organized one of the first women’s unions at just nineteen 150 years ago, is a $1,000 award that honors young women who have stood up for worker’s rights and organized their own workplaces in the face of strong opposition.

The Berger-Marks Foundation will be accepting nominations through midnight EST on Friday, September 16, 2016. All nominations must be made online, and all nominees should be 35 years or younger as of December 31, 2016. For more information about Berger-Marks, details on the awards and how to access the online-only nomination forms visit:

You are encouraged to nominate young women from labor unions, women’s groups, workers’ rights groups or other areas of social justice for these prestigious awards. The awards will be presented at a reception in Washington, DC on February 9, 2017.

Every year, the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) sponsors four Women’s Summer Schools in different regions across the country. In 4-5 days, union women and activists learn through various workshops and classes how to strengthen their leadership skills and their knowledge of the U.S. labor movement.

This year, the summer schools will be taking place as follows (click on the name of the summer school to be directed to their website for more information):

For the second year in a row, CLUW will be offering need-based scholarships of $500 (one per each UALE school) to help defray the costs of a participant to attend. Applicants must be a CLUW member or become a member by the time the application is submitted. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 3, 2016. For more information and to access the application form, please see CLUW’s website regarding UALE. More details about the summer schools will be posted on the CLUW website as they become available. We hope you consider attending.

Equal Pay

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) recently released a report entitled: “Pathways to Equity: Narrowing the Wage Gap by Improving Women’s Access to Good Middle-Skill Jobs.” The report addresses “sex segregation in middle-skill jobs, and how gender integration of good jobs could both reduce skill shortages and improve women’s economic security.”


Last week, UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies released a report entitled: Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review.” The report focuses on the link between the lack of accountability for charter schools and how school discipline is applied to African American children and children with disabilities. The report found that that African American students “were four times as likely to be suspended from charter schools as white students” and that of the “5,250 charter schools studied, 235 suspended more than 50% of their enrolled students with disabilities.”

Center for American Progress
April 12, 2016  
  Next Steps for Progress on Equal Pay  
By Jocelyn Frye

The principle of equal pay for equal work is a cornerstone of the nation’s commitment to equality, fairness, and ensuring that every worker has a fair chance to succeed in the workplace. In the public discourse about equal pay, many point to the gender wage gap—the gap between women’s and men’s average earnings—as the most visible illustration of pay inequality. The gap currently stands at 21 cents; women earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gap is even larger for women of color: African American women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by white men, while Native American women and Latinas earn only 59 cents and 55 cents, respectively. Asian American women earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by white men; however, that figure varies widely by subgroup—among Vietnamese women, for example, it is only 62 cents. 

Fortunately, there are measures that policymakers can take to establish fair pay practices, combat pay discrimination, and close the wage gap. But to do so, they must have a clear understanding of the underlying problems and the solutions that could make a difference by improving workplace practices. This issue brief explains the difference between the wage gap and equal pay for equal work, discusses recent efforts to address both issues, and lays out priorities for policymakers.

Read more.

AFL-CIO Survey's Working Women

Equal pay for equal work is a top priority for working women, according to a new AFL-CIO survey. Respondents included union and non-union members. The survey found that 46 percent of union members and 48 percent of non-union members saw equal pay as a priority among a list of 21 issues. Affordable health care, guaranteed health care for all, affordable higher education, and raising the minimum wage followed. Among the survey respondents, 59 percent identified as the primary breadwinner in the family. Health care costs, low wages and the cost of higher education and student loan debt topped the list among the barriers to economic stability. Read the full paper here.

Sonia Lozano Profiled by the AFL-CIO and LCLAA for Hispanic Heritage Month

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, the AFL-CIO and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) are profiling past and present leaders who are working to protect and expand the rights of Hispanics, Latinos and working families.  Sonia Lazano, Secretary-Treasurer LiUNA! Local 572, was selected by the AFL-CIO and LCLAA to be highlighted!   Click here to view her profile.  Congratulations Sonia!

LWC Annual Membership Meeting 2015

The LWC Annual Membership Meeting was held in San Diego, CA on August 11, 2015. The meeting was attended by several Vice Presidents and Regional Managers, various LWC Steering Committee Members as well as LWC members attending the LiUNA Leadership Conference.  General President Terry O’Sullivan and General Secretary-Treasurer Armand Sabitoni also stopped in to address those in attendance. 

Discussion was held regarding the success of the recent Women Build the Nation Conference, which was held in May, 2015 in Los Angeles.  Many of the LiUNA sisters attending the LWC meeting were present at the WBN Conference and they shared what a great experience it was.  The Fundraising Committee reported that LWC T-Shirt sales will be available as a tool for raising funds to attend the 2016 WBN Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Chicago. 

Dave Hickey gave a report on political efforts being planned by LiUNA for the 2016 political cycle.  As General President O’Sullivan had reported to the leadership, in 2016, LiUNA will focus on local politics.  Given the state of national politics, it is apparent that LiUNA members will benefit greatly from local politicians that are labor friendly.  Recently, local politicians are having a far greater impact on the lives of our members and it is important to elect politicians that will support working men and women.  Carol James noted that this will be an area for sisters in LiUNA to make a difference.  As each and every Local will need political activists in 2016, this is an area where sisters will be able to use their connections within their communities to advance the political efforts of LiUNA.  

Patti Devlin reported that the AFL CIO is proposing a survey on issues impacting women and women’s leadership development .  The last survey, “Ask a Working Woman Survey”, was conducted in 2010.  Many LiUNA sisters participated in the project at that time.  She also reported that federal funding may be cut to WANTO (Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations). Members were asked to spread the word to contact federal representatives to ensure that federal funding remains intact. The LWC’s support of WANTO was also shared with the LiUNA Minority Advancement Department and members of the African American and Latino Caucuses were asked to support this effort.

Results of the 2015 Election of LWC Officers:

Chair                     Carol James

Co-Chair               Diane Lewis

Recorder               Nicole Hayes

Treasurer              Cassandra Hammond               


LWC Members and Local 1001 Help at Midnight Circus

LWC member Mac-Z Zurawski is President of the McKinley Park Advisory Council (Chicago) and needed volunteers for their Midnight Circus in the Park event.  Mac-Z approached LiUNA! Local 1001’s new Women’s Committee for assistance.  LiUNA Local 1001 stepped in to help with the event.  

Pictured left to right: Chicago 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, LiUNA! Local 1001 Secretary-Treasurer Victor Roa and LWC Members Shawn Mahon and Mac-Z zurawski.

August 26, 2015
Contact: Jennifer Clark,, 202.785.5100

Unionized Women Earn More than Nonunionized Women in Every U.S. State

In 32 states, the union wage advantage is large enough to cover the costs of full-time child care for an infant in a center

Washington, DC—A new briefing paper released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. In addition, union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts in the state, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. The analysis also finds that the size of the union wage advantage is large enough in 32 states to cover the costs of full-time child care for an infant in a center.

Women’s share of union members has increased markedly in the last three decades, from 33.6 percent in 1984 to 45.5 percent in 2014. While men are more likely than women to be in labor unions or covered by a union contract in the United States as a whole (13.1 percent of men, compared with 11.9 percent of women), there are eight jurisdictions—California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Vermont—where women are more likely to be unionized than men. More than one in four female workers (25.7 percent) in New York are in a labor union or covered by a union contract. Nationally, public sector workers are five times more likely to belong to a union than private sector workers (35.7 percent, compared with 6.6 percent).

There are 25 “Right to Work” states, in which labor unions may operate but they cannot require employees, even those who would benefit from a contract negotiated by a union, to become members of the union or pay membership dues. Generally, the share of women who are union members or covered by a union contract are higher in states that do not have “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” states are associated with lower wages for all workers (both union and nonunion), especially women.

“Union representation brings with it greater pay transparency and helps ensure that employers set pay based on objective criteria, such as skill, effort, and responsibility,” said IWPR Study Director Ariane Hegewisch, co-author of the briefing paper. “Unfortunately, many women around the country are not able to experience this union advantage.”

Women who are represented by labor unions earn 88.7 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a considerably higher earnings ratio than the earnings ratio between all women and men in the United States (78.3 percent). Women of all major racial and ethnic groups experience a union wage advantage, but black and Hispanic women are particularly likely to gain from union representation. Hispanic women represented by labor unions have median weekly earnings that are 42.1 percent higher than those without union representation and black women’s earnings are 33.6 percent higher.

The union advantage extends beyond pay to cover benefits, such as retirement plans and health insurance. Women represented by a union are more likely to participate in a pension plan and receive health insurance benefits through their job than those who are not unionized. Approximately three in four unionized women (74.1 percent) have a pension plan, compared with only slightly more than four in ten (42.3 percent) of nonunion women. As of 2013, more than three in four unionized women (76.6 percent) had employer- or union-provided health insurance coverage, compared with only half (51.4 percent) of nonunion women.

“This research shows that it pays to be in a union, especially if you are a woman” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Not only do union women experience a much narrower gender wage gap with men than women overall, they also earn hundreds of dollars more per week than nonunion women, with greater access to critical benefits that can ensure their longterm financial security and well-being.”

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.


Take Action Against the Cadillac Tax!

You may not have heard of the 40% benefits tax, also known as the ‎CadillacTax but it’s a penalty built into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could affect your paycheck and health care benefits in 2018 if not sooner. It’s urgent that Congress repeal this tax because it could destroy the health and welfare funds of millions of workers, including you and your LIUNA brothers and sisters. Take action now, by clicking here.

No Funding for WANTO?

LiUNA! Women Caucus members you may have heard, funding for Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) has not been included in FY 2016 budget bills passed out of committee in either the House or the Senate. Because of this, we need to make sure each of our Senators and Representatives hear from us about how important this funding stream is for improving women's access to nontraditional jobs before the budget is finalized.  If you'd like help, visit Wider Opportunities for Women’s website to access their WANTO advocacy tool kit.


7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap

A waitress carries food

SOURCE: AP/Ted S. Warren

Wendy Harrison, a waitress at the Icon Grill in Seattle, carries food to a table as she works during lunchtime.

  • Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.
  • Download the report: PDF
  • Read it in your browser: Scribd

See also: Video: Why Women’s Economic Security Matters for All

The Census Bureau reported this week that the gender wage gap between full-time, year-round working men and women in 2013 remained virtually unchanged, with women earning 78 percent of what men earn. The 1 percent increase from 2012 is not statistically significant, and there has been no real movement in the gender wage gap since 2007. While working women have made great strides since 1967, when they earned only 58 percent of what men earned for full-time, year-round work, there is still a long way to go before true pay equity is achieved.

This means that, although women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, dollar for dollar they continue to earn, on average, 22 percent less than their male counterparts, with Latinas and African American women experiencing the sharpest pay disparities compared to white men. There are a number of factors that contribute to the pay gap, including where women work, differences in hours worked, and education differences. But there is also a portion of the pay gap that is unexplained; researchers have estimated that as much as 10 percent to 40 percent of the gender wage gap cannot be explained even when taking into account gendered differences between the occupations, educations, and work histories of men and women.

Closing the gap will require multifaceted solutions that together help ensure that the work women perform is valued fairly, that women are not penalized unfairly for their caregiving responsibilities, and that there is greater transparency in workplace pay practices. Here are seven steps we can take that could make a difference.

1. Raise the minimum wage

Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and estimates show that differences between women’s and men’s occupations could account for nearly one-half of the gender wage gap. Raising the minimum wage will help hardworking women better support their families. While nearly two-thirds of mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families, women made up approximately two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in 2012. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which means someone working full time, year round earns only $15,080 a year. That is below the poverty threshold for any family with children and not far above the poverty line for a single person. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would boost wages for about 15 million women and help close the gender wage gap.


2. Raise the tipped minimum wage

The gender wage gap is particularly prominent among tipped workers. The federal tipped minimum wage, which hasn’t been changed since 1991, only pays workers $2.13 per hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, women make up two-thirds of tipped workers and are 70 percent of food servers and bartenders, occupations that comprise more than half of the tipped workforce. Tipped workers have a higher poverty rate than non-tipped workers, and 46 percent rely on government assistance to make ends meet.

As the burden of tipped-wage poverty falls primarily on women and their families, raising the tipped minimum wage could make a real difference in decreasing the gender pay gap. Recent proposals advocate raising the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the minimum wage to ensure that the majority of a worker’s income is coming from his or her employer, instead of from tips.


3. Support fair scheduling practices

Women, especially women of color, are more likely to work in low-wage jobs and often have rigid, unpredictable schedules that can change with little notice, making it difficult for working parents—especially mothers—to anticipate their schedules and arrange for child care. These workers risk losing their job because they lack the flexibility to alter their schedules when they need to take their child to the dentist or pick up a sick child from school—tasks that are more likely to fall to mothers than fathers. Legislation has been passed in Vermont and San Francisco in the past year that provides workers with a “right to request,” allowing them to ask for greater flexibility or scheduling predictability from their employer without jeopardizing their job. Being able to keep a job is essential to closing the gender pay gap.


4. Support pay transparency

When women are not able to discuss their salaries with their colleagues, they often cannot tell when they are making less than their male colleagues for doing the same job. The Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce pay secrecy, give women better tools to address pay discrimination, and make it more difficult for companies to pay male workers more than female workers—an important tool in combatting the gender wage gap.


5. Invest in affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education

Each day, 11 million children spend time in the care of someone other than a parent. Among children under age 6, 65 percent either live with only a single parent who works or two parents who both work. For parents of young children, particularly those who are low-income, the lack of affordable, high-quality early childhood programs can prevent working parents from ensuring that their families are cared for while they fulfill the demands of their jobs and can inhibit their long-term success. Furthermore, child care costed more than median rent in every state in 2012, yet access to reliable child care is a requirement for working parents to maintain employment.

Legislation such as the proposed Strong Start for America’s Children Act invests in high-quality and sustainable early learning environments for young children, working families, and the future of our country. Investing in affordable, high-quality child care creates long-lasting structures that support both working parents and children, increasing women’s ability to keep a job, excel in the workforce, and lower the gender wage gap.


6. Pass paid sick days legislation

Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Almost 40 million U.S. workers, or about 40 percent of the private-sector workforce, do not have access to any paid sick days. For part-time workers, that figure climbs to 73 percent. As a result, these employees often must go to work sick, send their sick children to school, or leave their sick children at home alone because they fear they will be reprimanded or fired for missing work. A 2012 poll found that one-third of parents of young children report that they will experience negative job consequences if they have to miss work to stay home with a sick child. Paid sick days would help close the gender wage gap by ensuring that women, who most often care for sick family members, would not lose pay or their jobs just because they or their child fell ill.

If employees must take unpaid leave from work when they fall ill, the loss of wages can take a toll. The strain is most acutely felt by low-income workers, most of whom are women; these workers are also the least likely group to have access to paid sick days. Eleven cities and two states across the country have recognized that this is bad for workers, bad for business, and bad for public health and have thus taken the lead in pushing legislation to guarantee paid sick days for workers through active campaigns and bills at the state and municipal levels. One such bill, the Healthy Families Act, would create a national standard by allowing workers to earn sick leave regardless of where they live.


7. Pass a national paid family and medical leave insurance program

Because caregiving responsibilities most often fall to women and mothers, women are more likely to have to leave the paid labor force to provide family care. Furthermore, working women can be targeted for discrimination and denied job opportunities altogether because of negative stereotypes about their caregiving roles—stereotypes that men are less likely to face. According to estimates, slightly more than 10 percent of the gender wage gap is due to women spending less time in the labor force than men, often stemming from these disproportionate family care responsibilities. Access to paid leave has been proven to shorten time away from work and facilitate re-entry into the workforce and makes it more likely that women will return to work, return to their previous employer, and return with the same or higher wages, all of which can help to close the wage gap. And when gender-neutral paid family leave is offered, men are more likely to take it, which reduces stigma and caregiving penalties for workers.

A national paid family and medical leave insurance program would provide wage replacement to working women—and men—when they must take time off to care for their families, bolstering families’ economic security. Paid leave would help reduce the gaps in work histories, which women are more likely to experience, that contribute to the wage gap and affect women’s opportunities to rise through the ranks. The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee workers paid maternity leave after the birth or adoption of a child. In fact, only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have implemented state-level paid family leave programs, and a national system such as that proposed in the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, would help decrease the impact of the gender wage gap by supporting the vital work of caregivers and reinforcing families’ economic security.


The seven actions outlined here offer concrete opportunities to reduce the gender wage gap in the United States. Together, they can help further the cultural and structural change that will bring us closer to making the 22 percent wage gap a thing of the past.

Sarah Jane Glynn is the Associate Director for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Milia Fisher is a Research Assistant with the Women’s Initiative at the Center. Emily Baxter is a Research Assistant for the Economic Policy team at the Center.

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