The Battle for Equal Women’s Rights

UE has been leading the fight for equity for women workers since the 1940s. In the current political climate women need unions more than ever, as they are the best way to ensure greater earnings, benefits, and protections from discrimination in the workplace. Until women have full and equal rights, all workers are held back. 

Forty-one percent of women are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families. The huge gender income gap makes it even harder for them to provide for their families. Nationally, women earn only 80 cents for every dollar men earn. While this gap is slowly closing, at current rates the gender pay gap will not be erased until some time in the mid 22nd century. African-American women only make 61 percent of what white men bring home, and Latinas only make 58 percent. 

The U.S. is ranked 100th in the world in women’s representation in national legislatures; only 23.7 percent of the members of our Congress are women. In Congress and state legislatures, men continue to push bills that eliminate healthcare opportunities for many women, including the defunding of Planned Parenthood, stripping maternity care from mandated health insurance coverage, and gutting Medicaid, the effects of which would fall disproportionately on low-income single mothers. Nearly a dozen states have passed laws in 2019 restricting access to abortion, stripping women of their reproductive rights and flaunting the constitutional status of Roe v. Wade

Public revelations brought forward by the #MeToo movement demonstrate the depth of harassment and assault that too many women still face in the workplace. The women's marches of the last two years and the record number of women running for elected office have been a clear and welcome counterpoint.

UE members need to apply ever-greater pressure on politicians and bosses to advance and maintain women’s rights. This war on women’s rights needs to stop and we must remain leaders in this fight. 


  1. Calls on the union at all levels to: 
    1. Support locals in fighting legislation that negatively impacts women's and families’ rights; 
    2. Bargain for gender equality and to fight women’s oppression in the workplace; 
    3. Demand pay equity, recognize the intersection of race and gender, acknowledge and address the urgent political and safety issues experienced by trans women, and commit to address pay inequities at all levels;
    4. Create a consistent environment to educate and support women to assume positions of leadership within their locals, regions, and the national union; 
    5. Educate members, all officers, and staff on sexual harassment and programs to combat harassment, intimidation and sexist attitudes wherever found, through trainings and developed programs; 
    6. Continue the implementation of the anti-harassment policy for regional councils and national conventions, including continued training of ombuds as needed, at least one of whom will be a woman;
    7. In jobs primarily held by women, demand that employers file timely injury report forms for all worker injuries, as well as report such injuries to all appropriate state agencies, while creating strong health and safety language to be placed in collective bargaining agreements;
    8. Press for employer-paid training programs which allow women to upgrade their skills to enter jobs that have been traditionally reserved for men; 
    9. Renew the fight for employer-funded childcare, both through legislation and within the union; 
    10. Support the candidacy of pro-labor women to public office; 
    11. Provide dedicated time and space for women’s caucuses at regional and national levels within UE; 
    12. Provide quality childcare for meetings and conferences to allow parents and guardians to participate in the activities of the union;
    13. Bargain language providing a safe, clean and private space for nursing parents; 
  2. Supports the right of all those seeking reproductive healthcare, regardless of economic status, to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy, to have access to free, confidential, and effective birth control and family planning services, to be protected against forced sterilization, and not be discriminated against because of reproductive health issues; 
  3. Demand Congress: 
    1. Improve and expand the Family Medical Leave Act and ensure all workers receive full benefits; 
    2. Enact: 
      1. A federal paid parental leave program and a high-quality federal day care program; 
      2. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, calling for stricter and clear mandates for employers to provide accommodations for pregnant workers; 
      3. The Be Heard Act, which would make law some Obama-era executive orders governing federally subcontracted workers, addresses workplace harassment, includes the employment nondiscrimination provisions, and an end to the tipped minimum wage; 
    3. Create a subsidized system which does not penalize individuals for providing homecare and which provides a living wage and quality homecare; 
    4. Enact a new federal law prohibiting employers from asking about pay history in order to reduce pay disparities;
    5. Protect and expand the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other programs that assist low-income families and children;
  4. Encourage UE members to engage with organizations fighting for women’s rights.