Women, Minorities, and Unions in the Public Sector

Women, Minorities, and Unions in the Public Sector

Women, Minorities, and Unions in the Public Sector

Women, Minorities, and Unions in the Public Sector

Synopsis

"Riccucci presents a well-researched analysis of the public-sector relationship of women and minorities to unions as well as the influence of unions on the wage and employment opportunities of women and minorities. Separate chapters discuss female and minority membership in public-sector unions, the legal obligations of unions to females and minorites, joint labor-management cooperation, including equal-opportunity and affirmative action committees and apprenticeship programs, women in uniformed service jobs, and unions and comparable worth." Choice

Excerpt

Women and minorities have historically had lower rates of unionization than white males (Freeman andLeonard 1987). This has been attributed to a number of factors including a desire by unions to keep women and minorities completely out of certain segments of the work force (Wertheimer 1984). Quite simply, women and minorities at one time represented a competitive source of cheap labor, which posed a serious threat to unions. As such, many unions would not foster the presence of women and minorities in the work force by organizing them; indeed, many were openly hostile to them. It was not difficult for unions to bar women and minorities from their ranks, particularly in the 1800s and early 1900s, given the position that women and minorities held in society.

Union leaders, like society in general, had very traditional views about women and hence about female participation in the labor force. Women's calling was in the home, serving the needs of a husband and children (Kenneally 1978). Even relatively progressive unions, such as the National Labor Union (NLU) which beginning in the 1860s permitted women to join with full membership status, saw women's participation in the work force and, hence, labor movement as an "unfortunate necessity" (Baxandall ,Gordon andReverby 1976, 77). For example, William Sylvis, head of the nlu between 1868 and 1869, made it clear that

Females should not labor outside the domestic circle. Being forced into the field, the factory, and the workshop . . . they come in direct competition with men in the great field of labor; and being compelled of necessity, from their defenceless condition, to work for low wages, they exercise a vast influence over the price of . . .

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