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
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail