Jane McAlevey discusses how women are leading changes in labor movement

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With traditional labor organizations at perhaps their all-time weakest, and with union membership steadily dwindling, the labor movement has finally made room for women leaders, according to a recent article published in The Nation.

There may be more at stake, however, than a few past-due seats at a molding table. In the article, Verso author Jane McAlevey discusses how female labor-leaders like herself have been working to expand the demands of the movement.

Drawing on her own experience as a labor organizer, as well as research done for her recent book Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), McAlevey insists on the necessity for a more holistic approach in the fight for labor justice.

“McAlevey’s approach blends the two realms, public and private life, which have historically been gendered—men go to work and care about wages, women stay home and care about the roof over their families’ heads and what’s for dinner. ‘If you want to contend for power, and workers need a lot more power than what they have in this country right now, we actually have to bring power to the table with us,’ McAlevey explains.”

Just as this is not the first time female workers such as teachers and nurses have led labor movements, McAlevey points out that a broad range of labor-reform demands is nothing new either.

“Labor organizing wasn’t always so focused on just the workplace: as McAlevey notes in her recent book Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), after the anti-communist witch hunts, the post-1955 labor movement turned from radical, militarized tactics to ‘a narrow focus on ‘bread-and-butter’ issues like wages.’”

Visit The Nation to read the article in full. 

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