Report Helps Working Women in Unions

WASHINGTON —The Guide To Organizing Women’s Committees from the Berger-Marks Foundation was released to aid women in establishing women’s committees within unions. Jane LaTour, a New York consultant and journalist, and two Cornell University professors, Lois Gray and Maria Figueroa, author the report.

 

The report is based on research of the “most effective strategies, programs, and objectives of established women’s committees at a range of local and international unions and worker centers.”

 

A women’s committee is needed if an organization wants to urge more participation of women, if there are women who have a strong urge to participate, if women are underrepresented in leadership, if there is a lack of training and mentoring for new female leaders, and if the union does not already address issues of pay equity, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination.

 

Women’s committees can help unions increase effectiveness in collective bargaining, and political action because they help women join the conversation get involved in organization activities.

 

According to the report, “Research shows women need independent space to identify and create their own culture where they can speak about concerns and identify strategies to engage with and change the dominant culture.”

 

“Targeted programs for women are particularly helpful” for women who represent a small minority of members or in unions where few women are represented in leadership, the report highlights in case studies.

 

“Opportunity for networking and leadership development plays an important role in motivating women to participate, gain experience and training, and begin to express their views,” explains LaTour.

 

Informal social networking on Facebook and through fundraisers can help too. The women’s committee in one union had a bake sale to highlight the wage gap where they charged men $1 for baked goods and charged women 77 cents.

 

The report and additional workshop materials can be found at www.bergermarks.org

 

Source: PAI