6:54 PM Eastern - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Union Advantage for Women #default

Following several decades of decline, the first increase in union membership in a quarter of a century was recorded in 2007, with women accounting for almost two-thirds of new union members. Women make up roughly 45 percent of union members--and by 2020, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce.

Millions of female workers are getting the squeeze in today's economy. Even as women break the glass ceiling in business and politics, they still earn on average, 78 cents to every dollar earned by men--and unions are a big part of the solution. Women have a great deal to gain from unionization, with union victories working to pave the way for workers to bargain for affordable family health care, fair wages, improved working conditions, and a better life for their families. Did you know that...

  • Unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension (24.7 percent) and having employer-provided health insurance (19 percent)
  • Joining a union raises the amount women workers earn by 11.2 percent more than their non-union peers.
  • Among women workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, the benefits are even greater, with female union members earning 14 percent more than those workers who were not in unions.
"We need women in leadership in all levels in our country - in our unions, in our communities, in the social justice movement and in our government, to really make a difference for working families in our country and around our world," says SEIU's Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.

Watch SEIU's video tribute to Women's History Month here:

The Employee Free Choice Act could make an even greater difference in the lives of women. "What EFCA means is that women workers and particularly women workers of color, who are of the worst economic situation in this country, can finally move out of the worst jobs and the worst working conditions and into the kind of jobs which would allow them to support a family, buy a home, send their kids to college," says Cornell labor specialist Kate Bronfenbrenner.

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