Sunday, March 13, 2011

Walker Budget, Union-Busting Hit Women Hard

I haven't done a deep analysis or crunched many numbers, but it sure seems like Walker's budget cuts and union-busting law hits Wisconsin women the hardest.


* Walker exempted male-dominated police and fire unions statewide from mandatory cuts in bargaining rights and also from out-of-pocket increases in health care and pension contributions.

* That leaves the female-dominated professions, like teaching and nursing - - as was evident by the large number of women in these fields carrying signs at Saturday's rally at the Capitol - - without the same bargaining rights, but with paychecks shrunk.

AFSCME could provide the data, but I'm assuming that women make up a very large percentage of many public agencies' line and office workers, so the gender disparities continue.

* Women also take the brunt of the across-the-board $20 cut to W-2 monthly checks proposed in the budget.

* Some low-income, female heads of households are going to be paying even more in state income taxes, though, if you believe the spin, the Walker budget is a no-tax-increase plan.

* And when you cut school breakfasts for poor Milwaukee children, who do we think is most likely to try and manage those consequences? Moms and women teachers.

* And Walker's going after family planning funding, too.

I had raised some of these issues when blogging about the budget as it unfolded - - but I am late in connecting the dots: it was the rally Saturday that helped open my eyes

If you look at Walker's inner circle, and the GOP Senate and Assembly caucuses, you see few women.

After a few months, when Alberta Darling is recalled and defeated, there will be one less.


Anonymous said...

Off topic but IMO important. Since the Walker fiasco there has been a real (and not good) change in the way the LeftyBlog roll displays. It seems lasting long enough to not be some type of glitch.

The roll is INUNDATED with piles of Kossacks. These people are often not from WI, but have (aparently0 merely used some WI-related tag (I am not on Kos so I can only assume the tag thing) yesterday for example the WI list was full of large numbers of posts about Michigan (Not written by the usual suspects in WI). Important too, yada yada, but 'sconnies were not to be found. Even the Local Only sort is looking weird, very minimal.

Kos is Kos - why dilute another venue in this manner? I haven't been the Cheddarsphere's main cheerleader I realize but for god's sake NOW is when "we" fill the bowl with Asian Carp?

In your case, I am surprised to see several posts exist that seem to have either never made it to the LB list or were rapidly pushed off? It's gonna be a pain to make a list because sometimes a random person who blogs only rarely will suddenly come up with a new bit from their area. You can't compensate for that with a personal "watch" list.
Anyways, it's BS. How can I irritate people if the list of victims goes all wonky? I could write to Kari of MandateMedia and bitch, but I assume this is just a decision he has made and thinks it's cool because it "fills out' his blogroll? meh, if I wanna go to Kos and read general US rants, I will do that.
and maybe Chedderheads don't care ,it seems blog readership is way up so, maybe ppl like this.
but grrr
Given a choice of random Kossacks or official Cheddarheads, I. Amazingly. prefer you Cheesebutts.

tomkraj said...

You have nailed a key fact about Walker. Deliberately or not he has nailed women with this budget. UW hospital employees (read women) will have no bargaining unit as I understand it. Home health Care workers (read women) will have no bargaining unit. Child cares workers have bargaining curtailed. This is why if you look at the demonstrators it is often that women are in the majority. Women gained in the 20th Century and if Walker takes us back to the 19th century, women are going to lose more than men. Women have been at the forefront of the protests. this is something Walker has not seen and does not understand. When momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy and momma ain't happy.

Mom said...

Believe me, the women of Wisconsin noticed right away!

G. G. McBride said...

Thanks for spreading the word about Walker's war on women -- the conservatives' war on women that has come to Wisconsin, as the UW campuses' consortium of women's studies programs has stated about the original budget repair bill, the biennial budget bill, and now the portion of the original budget repair bill that this past week became the collective bargaining bill to destroy rights of primarily women workers, owing to exemption of major male-dominated public employee unions.

For example, our most recent statement this past week:

We are writing to register concern over Governor Walker’s proposed “Budget Repair Bill” [in its new forms] because of the disproportionate financial, personal, and professional burdens this legislation places on women. Certainly the bill[s] would implement an array of policies and budget decisions that would have a devastating impact on the quality of life in Wisconsin for both public and private sector workers, but we want to highlight the many ways this bill is particularly damaging for Wisconsin women.

Specifically, the collective bargaining provision [now a separate bill passed this past week] will dramatically impact women in the workplace, while the other fiscal provisions will negatively affect women’s access to health care services.

First, taking away the worker’s voice provided by collective bargaining is wrong for everyone--but disproportionately affects women. Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate collective bargaining is applied in a capricious manner that punishes women workers. This has special relevance to the public sector workers who would be affected by this legislation, particularly in the way the legislation has been crafted to cover certain segments of the public sector work force but not others. For example, according to statistics from the Department of Labor, public safety workers—who have been exempted from the collective bargaining limitations—are male-dominated professions: men make up 96% of firefighters, 85% of police officers, and 79% of security officers.

Conversely, women make up 82% of elementary and middle school teachers, the third most prevalent occupation for women as of 2009. They are the majority of our nurses, teachers and social workers. Nationally, women make up 92% of registered nurses and 97.8% of preschool and kindergarten teachers: that means that most of the people whose jobs will be impacted by Walker’s bill are women. Other professions affected by this legislation are even more starkly gendered—for example, 95% of childcare workers (who are singled out in this bill as stripped of their collective bargaining rights) are female, as are 85% of personal and home health care aids. With median weekly earnings of $384 and $406 respectively, these latter two groups will be disproportionately affected by the fiscal aspects of Walker’s proposal.


G. G. McBride said...

Distressingly, the occupations who will experience the most loss of autonomy and wage-earning are already among those that make it difficult for these workers to make ends meet. A 2008 study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research reports that joining a union increases a woman’s salary and the likelihood she will have health insurance—strikingly, “All else equal, joining a union raises a woman's wage as much as a full-year of college, and a union raises the chances a woman has health insurance by more than earning a four-year college degree.” Supporting access to collective bargaining and union membership for women is an important part of achieving gender equity and helping working women attain self-sufficiency, very particularly for those occupations affected by the Budget Repair Bill. Collective bargaining provides women a voice in the workplace and is one way to help close what is still a substantial gender wage gap, documented by US Census data as women earning 77 cents for every man’s dollar, a wage gap worse in Wisconsin.

Second, taking away the worker’s voice provided by collective bargaining is wrong for everyone, but punishes women in specific ways. Labor standards like family medical leave, health benefits, paid sick days, and living wages are pro-family because the workplace needs to be structured so that workers
can succeed while caring for their families. The bill’s proposal to limit collective bargaining for some state employees to wages is insufficient to provide occupational security for women workers. Negotiating for family medical leave, health benefits, paid sick days, and living wages is critical for the survival of families in general. It is also particularly crucial for women to be able to negotiate these benefits safely since women still provide the majority of unpaid childcare in many homes as well as the majority of unpaid domestic tasks.


G. G. McBride said...

Occupational resources such as family medical leave are thus indispensable for women. Such leave allows women much-needed time with newborns and to recover from childbirth or to welcome an adopted child into the family environment; it allows women’s partners to share the work of parenting. In addition, it provides women, who are statistically more likely to provide care to sick family members, with the ability to provide this care without risking job loss. The Global Working Families report, a Harvard study, shows that 163 countries in the world mandate some form of paid family leave to care for a new baby or a sick family member; the US does not. Thus, it is incumbent upon individuals and individual workplaces to agree on family leave policies.

The inability to bargain over family medical leave would make it disproportionately difficult for women to continue to care for loved ones while maintaining quality of life as well as career and financial stability.
Workers must also retain the right to collective bargaining over paid sick days and health benefits: women, who have primary responsibility for the care of children in many homes, are particularly affected by the availability of sick days and good healthcare. Maintaining personal health as well as being able to visit quality providers when ill means that women can be well for their families and partners. Good healthcare also relates directly to the well being of those families and partners themselves. For single parents, most of whom are women, such care is a necessity. Without affordable healthcare and the ability to take paid sick days, single women with families are particularly vulnerable to financial devastation and job loss, especially as women in the fields listed above make about 15% less than their male counterparts already, a wage gap that is even worse in Wisconsin.


G. G. McBride said...

If workers lose the legal power to negotiate for everything except their wages, the flexibility and access to care necessary to raise a family effectively will vanish. Again, such changes would be disproportionately negative for women because they shoulder most of the responsibility for childcare and eldercare, because they are more often the heads of single-parent families, and because they occupy the majority of public sector jobs in education, childcare, and social work – precisely the areas most impacted by this bill.

Third, taking away the worker’s voice provided by collective bargaining is wrong for all, but it will devastate many minorities. Labor standards highly impact minorities who even with current standards lag significantly behind in pay. Taking away the benefit of collective bargaining will put more people of color at risk for poverty. The workplace needs to be structured in a way where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender can receive a fair wage.
Collective bargaining provides women of color a voice in the workplace. Women in general and women of color specifically still have a long way to go to achieve wage equality. As the Status of Women Report published by the Institute for Women’s Policy notes, “[White] Women in Wisconsin
have among the lowest wage ratios compared to men in the country: they earn only 71 cents to men’s dollar for full-time, full-year work, compared to 76 cents nationally, and rank 45th among the states on this indicator.” While these statistics are appalling for all women in general, they are far worse for women of every other racial and ethnic group in Wisconsin. Thirty percent of African American women in Wisconsin live in poverty, double the overall national rate of poverty.


G. G. McBride said...

Poverty rates for families headed by women of color in Wisconsin are very high. Taking away collective bargaining rights will effectively alienate women of color who are already disadvantaged in political, social, and economic status. Women of color who have equal opportunity to bargain collectively have a better opportunity for raising themselves and their children out of poverty. We need people of all races, ethnicities, and genders in the workforce to make a strong Wisconsin.

If women lose collective bargaining, history shows they will be unequally rewarded for their work. There are social costs to women as a group being unequally rewarded for their work. With many types of benefits (such as social security, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, and pensions) linked to one’s salary, paying women less means apportioning inadequate amounts of social guarantees to a huge number of the populace. American women over sixty-five are already more than twice as likely to be poor as men of the same age, and the numbers are greater for women of color. Leaving women and especially women of color to struggle at the end of their lives, imposes substantial economic costs on society trying to move forward toward equality for all citizens.

Though the removal of collective bargaining rights has a particularly detrimental impact on women workers, young women and seniors will feel this bill in other, negative ways, specifically in their access to healthcare services. For example, as the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health reports, the bill eliminates Badgercare for some poor families (at 133% of the poverty level), depriving 55,000 families of affordable health care services. It eliminates the Title V family planning program, reduces funding for a program that helps pregnant women with smoking cessation, reduces funding for sexual assault victim services, and repeals the law requiring insurance providers to cover prescription birth control. The proposed non-fiscal changes to the operation and oversight of Medicaid programs—granting an unprecedented level of authority to the Department of Health Services to make changes to the program’s eligibility, benefits, and cost-sharing aspects without input from the public or legislative approval--has the potential to seriously restrict access to reproductive and overall healthcare services for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin women. For example, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health notes that nearly 300,000 women are in need of contraceptive services that they access through publicly supported services. This includes nearly 100,000 teenagers.

Clearly, this piece of legislation will not serve our state’s citizens well, but it is particularly damaging for Wisconsin women.

James Rowen said...

To G.G. - - Thank you for the data. You could send me a guest posting and I will repost it.