FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stand Up for Working Women!

The grassroots rage and organizing that countered Komen and GOP’s anti-contraception crusade showed just what feminist fury can do. Facing a cut-off in funds from the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, PPFA raised more money in a few days than it stood to lose from Komen all year. The federation’s supporters stirred up such a storm that a senior Komen VP was forced out with her Georgia Republican anti-choice agenda showing.  And the burdensome pressure tactics of gratuitous slap-suits and Congressional investigations finally made news – dirty tactics that women’s clinics around the states have been subject to for years.

And then came Daryl Issa’s panel on President Obama’s plan to require insurance companies to pay for contraception coverage when religious employers refused. Issa’s panel “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State” was as crazy as it sounds (and almost as crazy as the Clinton-conceded “conscious clause” itself) but it was no match for the Democratic response.  Democratic women on the committee begged to participate, asking Issa to let a college student testify. He refused. That refusal made that student a star guest on liberal cable shows across the country and Issa’s stupid hearing attracted more attention than any hearing on any topic for months.

And that’s my point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see feminist hackles rise. I only wish we’d see liberals as angry and activated about women’s labor, as about women going — or not going —  into labor. Capitalism’s crazies are just as righteous-rage worthy as the anti-contraceptive sort.

Take the two million paid home care workers in U.S, up to 95 per cent of whom are women, foreign-born or people of color. Many are undocumented. The multi-billion dollar home care industry is right now mobilizing opposition to an Obama administration proposal to extend basic minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. Industry claims that extending basic protections will cost jobs and leave elderly and disabled Americans without care are no less absurd than what Issa and his chums had to say about contraception coverage crushing the church.

Yet the  public has only a few more days to speak out, and so far, the din is,  let’s just say, not deafening. The Department of Labor is taking public comments until February 27.

Restaurant work, like domestic work and retail, is another female-dominated sector.  Think only women are affected by the congressionally mandated “sub-minimum” wage for tipped workers? Hardly. Since 1991, the sub-generous subminimum for tipped workers has stood at $2.13, thanks to active lobbying by the National Restaurant Owners Association (one of the top twenty-five lobby groups in the United States.) Food servers, it turns out, are twice as likely as the general population to use food stamps. How many of us thought about that this Valentines Day, one of the top dining-out holidays. Chances are good that the person who served up your love potion, cannot themselves afford to eat.

ALEC, the conservative legislative cabal liberals love to hate, is pushing right now to repeal all sub-minimum wage laws (along with the federal, non-tipped sort.) Senators in Florida, where state law provides an increased tipped-worker minimum, want to strike that increase down. If history is anything to go by, giving in on the tipped-workers’ minimum is what Democrats do when they have to strike a bargain with the corporate right. Clinton did it in 1996 in exchange for a lift in the non-tipped minimum wage. History repeated in 2007, the last time the non-tipped minimum got a lift.

Let’s be clear. Wages as a whole haven’t grown with the economy. But wages in female dominated sectors like domestic work, restaurant work and retail have grown the least.  As today’s favorite corporate model is the “feminized” labor model it would  behoove not just feminists to pay attention.  All today’s employers seem to prefer to hire workers part time, ideally through private, independent contractors. In so doing, they distance workers from their bosses, from labor law protections, from access to unions and the right to collectively bargain.  It’s not just sexist but it started where women work.

Governors in Indiana and Wisconsin are denying to public workers now what the federal government denied disproporationately to women workers when domestics, agricultural workers and freelancers were written out of the Fair Labor Standards Act — in 1936!

Today we have a chance to rebuild labor power, the old way or the new way. Millions of new jobs are likely to be created – eventually – mostly probably in the “feminized” part of the workforce.  We could make them good jobs. We clearly have movements that make a difference when they want to.  Or we could focus on choice. We have a choice.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail