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This Labor Day, Meet America's ‘Newest Union-In-The-Making’

Published Sunday, September 5, 2021
by Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani Via CNN
This Labor Day, Meet America's ‘Newest Union-In-The-Making’

CNN Editor’s Note: Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code, an International non-Profit Organization working to close the gender gap in technology while teaching girls confidence and bravery through coding, and the founder of the Marshall Plans for Moms Movement.  She is the author of the forthcoming book: Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work and Why It's Different Than You Think?  The views expressed here are hers.  Read more opinion on CNN.


Before our Nation's Labor Day tradition began in the 1880s, Laborers commonly logged 70-hour workweeks in dangerous conditions - until they organized to change that.

Their Unions eventually created the work-life balance we consider the norm today - a 40-hour workweek and two-day weekend, a minimum wage and safe working conditions.

Still, there's one group of Workers who, this past yearrecorded 56-hour workweeks with zero days off.

They have demanding, unpredictable jobs and few workplace protections.

Quitting is abandonment and the position is unpaid.

These too-often forsaken Workers are America's 45 million Moms - and the past year has shown that the time has come to Unionize.

Moms have long benefited from Unions.

Recent research shows that Mothers in Unions are 17% more likely to use paid maternity leave.

Women who are in Unions enjoy higher wages overall and a smaller wage gap and more than 90% have paid sick leave to care of themselves and their families, according to the National AFL-CIO.

And yet, even though Motherhood is one of the most challenging and common jobs in America - and even though Women's unpaid labor was worth $1.5 trillion in 2020 alone - there is no Union solely dedicated to fighting for us.

If there were any doubt that Moms - both those who take on paid work and those who don't - need a Union, the Covid-19 Pandemic and its effects have exposed what Mothers are up against, despite the differences in our various circumstances. 

Studies show that more than two million Women "left" the workforce this past year.

In reality, many of those Women - and especially Moms - were forced to leave because they were laid off, because they needed to educate their children in the face of school closures, because they had at best inadequate economic assistance, from the government or their workplaces, to cover the cost of childcare or because they were fed up with coming home from work, only to take on a second shift of unpaid caregiving around the house.

To be sure, the pandemic was no walk in the park for Fathers, either - but research shows Mothers, regardless of employment status, shouldered most of the burden of educating their kids, doing housework and providing for their families.

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