Women in American Labour Movement: Overcoming Exclusion and Sex-Based Discrimination

Women in American Labour Movement: Overcoming Exclusion and Sex-Based Discrimination

Marjory Diana Fields (Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, New York, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPPPHCE.2019070104


In this article, the author examines the history of exclusion and sex-based discrimination against U.S. women workers seeking to join unions established by men. The author describes how groups of women and girls working in fabric mills in the 19th Century took strike action against work speed up and increased production requirements, making demands for higher wages, equal pay with men, improved working conditions, clean water, health care and time off. Then, in the early 20th century, women teachers formed their own unions to gain increased pay and pension plans, and for social justice. These unions continue to the present seeking also social justice and exercising political power.
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Women’s Collective Action Continues

The 2018 industrial action by the AFT local union chapters of mostly women teachers in state-funded primary, middle and secondary schools, in six states has been successful. The members obtained increased public-school funding and pay raises for all teachers and school staff. The first was in West Virginia. These successes were the inspiration for subsequent successful industrial actions in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma (Turner, Lombardo, and Logan, 2018). In Oklahoma, some schools are open four days a week, instead of five days. There are insufficient text books for students. School funding has been reduced by 28% in two consecutive years, although pupil enrollment has increased. Teachers had not had a pay raise in ten years (BBC World Service, 2018).

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