Washington (PAI) — Democratic President Joe Biden’s sweeping Build Back Better agenda, now hung up on Capitol Hill, “will put working women at the center of” the U.S.’s economic recovery from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler says.
Shuler, an Electrical Worker (IBEW) member, says women, and particularly the AFL-CIO’s 6.5 million female members “worked overtime to deliver a pro-worker majority in the Senate, and voted in a pro-worker majority in the House—which includes a record number of women: 25 percent of all lawmakers and 40 percent of Democrats.
“When women run for office and win, when union women run for office and win, when our voices are in the halls of power, we create the change we need. And we have a generational opportunity right now to do exactly that,” she said
That Build Back Better (BBB) agenda, she explained, will help not just working women who returned to their jobs as pandemic-caused restrictions eased, or those who have found better jobs since they came off the jobless rolls, but also those still unemployed as the disease forced their employers to lay them off, close, or both.
Some 1.8 million of those working women can’t come back because child care is unavailable, too expensive to pay for if they’re going to work, or pays too little if they work at it, Shuler said.
Shuler pointed out the BBB legislation, officially the 10-year $350 billion yearly “reconciliation bill,” would ease that pain by pumping billions of dollars into better child care, including raising the child and home care workers’ pay to a minimum of $15 an hour and providing money to improve and upgrade child care centers.
The median hourly wage for those workers now is $11-$12, meaning half make more and half make less. “For far too long, women have been underpaid, undervalued, and expected to take on most of the unpaid work at home,” Shuler said.
“But this isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a fundamental economic issue impacting all working people. Building Back Better will put gender equity where it belongs: At the center of our economic recovery.”