Dear IWPR Supporters and Colleagues,
Today, we celebrate the contributions, achievements, and resilience of working Americans.
Labor Day began as a way for workers to fight for the eight-hour day, the five-day work week, and the many other labor rights and protections we often take for granted. Today, we are fighting—and more and more refighting—battles for higher wages, quality health insurance, and a secure retirement.
The continued struggle to recognize the value, contributions, and dignity of every worker is why I’m proud to be a part of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and its work to assist workers and their representatives with policy analysis that advances all workers.
One of the fastest growing occupations is care work for children and elders, an industry where demand will continue to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages. It is also an industry dominated by women. Overall, however, care workers have experienced stagnant, or in many cases declining, wages over the past decade. A new report published by IWPR showed that the number of care workers grew 19 percent from 2005 to 2015. Care workers are predominantly female and although the occupations have become more diverse over the past decade, the percentage of care workers who are living at or near poverty levels remained relatively unchanged at 47%.
Unions are showing their highest support in 15 years, but a recent ruling from the Supreme Court (the Janus vs. AFSCME ruling) has the potential to derail much of the progress that unions have made in fighting for worker’s rights—although the first response from union members makes me think that they are sticking with their unions. IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., had this to say on the decision: “Unions play an essential role in boosting the quality of jobs around the country and the research shows that women and people of color especially benefit from the collective bargaining power unions provide. Labor unions have been at the forefront of the fight for fair pay and helped secure labor standards that are cornerstones of the American workplace, including the 40-hour work week, a national minimum wage, premium pay for overtime, health insurance, and family and medical leave.” The evidence is clear, the collective bargaining power of unions improves conditions for all workers, closes the gender wage gap, and promotes equal pay for women. Weakening unions threatens the improvements we have won.
It is with renewed importance that we take time to reflect on the contributions and struggles of workers then and now. With your support IWPR can continue to provide clear, fact-based research that enables activists, policymakers, the media, and you to fight for your rights at work.
I ask you for your support to advance this essential research by making a donation to IWPR today in honor of the countless women workers around the world.
Lorretta Johnson, Chair, IWPR Board of Directors
Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.