New AFL-CIO report reveals working women are overstretched at home and on the job
A new report released by the AFL-CIO reveals that more than half of working women spend less than four hours a week on themselves after fulfilling their work and caregiving responsibilities.
The AFL-CIO launched the National Survey of Working Women last fall in an effort to gain a multi-faceted picture of American women. Nearly 25,000 union and non-union women across the country took part in the survey.
“It offers a telling glimpse into the issues that matter most to America’s working women,” said Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer. “As a woman and a union member myself, I understand the constant balancing act that many women are forced to play. I also know that union membership opens doors to leadership opportunities and economic power for women.”
Shuler recently released the survey results alongside local working women, the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).
“As a single parent, being a part of UFCW has made life for my family and I so much more secure,” said Kim Mitchell of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. “I am not a faceless employee. I have a voice – a voice I wouldn’t have if I didn’t belong to a union. As a union member, I am somebody.”
The results included critical information about women voters for presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle. Women, who comprise a critical voting bloc, reported being most concerned with the issues of affordable health care, equal pay, affordable higher education, and raising the minimum wage.
"The results of the survey reflect what I have been hearing from working women all across the nation: they are working harder than ever but still can’t make ends meet, too many are forced to make an impossible choice between caring for their families and providing for them and pay discrimination makes it impossible to just break even, let alone get ahead,” Scott said.
“The good news is that joining a union is one of the surest ways that workers can raise their pay, and secure benefits like paid leave and fair work schedules.” He added. “That’s why I introduced the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy Act, to strengthen women’s ability to speak up together and to help them make a better life for themselves and their families."
The survey also revealed that 59 percent of women fill the role of primary breadwinner in their household and that women view healthcare costs and low wages as major barriers to their economic stability.
“Millions of American women are juggling work and family responsibilities and it is not getting any easier,” DeLauro said. “From equal pay and an increased minimum wage, to affordable healthcare and paid leave, nearly 25,000 working women have made their voices known in this survey and spoken on the issues that can help families succeed.”
“Now it is up to Congress to listen and to enact legislation that makes the workplace a better place for all women,” she said. “We can start by passing the FAMILY Act, to guarantee paid family and medical leave for all employees, and the Healthy Families Act, to allow workers have access to job-protected paid sick days. The time to act is now. The American worker deserves nothing less.”
In addition to being the breadwinner and financial decision maker for their families, the survey found that more than 25 percent of women spend over 30 hours a week on caregiving activities.
“Women know how to get things done – whether at home or in the workplace,” Matsui said. “Yet, as the AFL-CIO’s survey clearly demonstrates, too often women are stretched between the responsibilities of childcare, caring for aging loved ones and their increasingly expanded role in the American workforce. It is past time we update our outdated policies to reflect the realities that women face today and elevate the economic issues facing women in America.”
Frankel agreed and added: “This report shows how critical closing the gender gap is for America’s working families. It’s time for this country to make women’s equality more than a slogan and enact meaningful paycheck fairness policies.”
For more detailed information about the survey, click here.