Opinion: Unions have advanced policies important to women



Unions play an important role in helping to provide access to fair wages and good jobs for working women and their families.

On Aug. 7, Proposition A will be up for a vote in our state. This is a ballot measure that enacts legislation mandating that no person can be required to pay dues to a union or join a union as a condition of employment.

Unions have pioneered many employment best practices and have advanced policies that are especially important to women, such as paid sick leave and paid family leave. Because hiring, pay and promotion criteria and decisions are more transparent for union members, gender and racial bias is minimized. Women covered by a union contract are also more likely to have health insurance provided by their employer.

We also know from research that women — especially women of color — who are either affiliated with a union or who have a job covered by a union contract earn higher wages. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, among women working full time, those in unions have median weekly earnings of $942, compared with $723 for nonunion workers, an increase of $219, or 30 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that union workers earn more than nonunion workers.

As a part of our mission to support women in our region on their path toward economic independence, we want to shine a light on the work of unions in helping many women to achieve just that — so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families.

(Lisa Picker is the executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis.)



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