GOP War on Public-Sector Unions = War on Women
Women make up half the public-sector workforce, but when state and local governments started slashing jobs during the economic recovery, 83 percent of jobs lost were women's. That's because most of the nation's teachers, nurses and public-sector clerical workers are women.
In what are known as the helping professions, such social work and nursing, a unionized job is often the only ticket to a decent wage with benefits.
Writing in The Nation (and reprinted by AlterNet), Bryce Covert demonstrates how, even if Obama were to see his proposed budget, with its "investment" strategy, implemented, women in the public sector are still disproportionately hurt:
President Obama’s State of the Union outlined an ambitious investment agenda—in infrastructure. It’s unlikely that those new jobs will reach women. Only 5 percent of women work in transportation and material moving and 1 percent work in construction and maintenance. They make up about 13 percent of the construction workforce and 28 percent of the manufacturing force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, women in these sectors are still being laid off as men’s jobs come back—from November 2009 to November 2010, men gained 126,000 manufacturing jobs while women lost 18,000.
This assault on women's jobs doesn't just hurt women: it hurts families. Few are the two-parent families that can afford to have one parent stay out of the workforce; for them, loss of a woman's job can mean the loss of a significant portion of the family's income. If that woman works in the public sector and her partner does not, chances are that the family gets its health care through her benefits package.
For households headed by single women, a job loss can mean descent into abject poverty. In Wisconsin alone, 39 percent of female-headed households operate below poverty level.
For unpartnered women, the scenario is also frightening; women are far more economically vulnerable than men.
So, as we celebrate Women's History Month, we might consider the events taking place in Wisconsin's state capitol as a sad day in women's history.