Roundtable Strategy Session III:
Increasing Working Women''s Voices

Expanding union membership to new groups of workers brings new issues to the attention of union leaders. Whether women have participated in union leadership themselves or in caucuses and rank-and-file movements, their presence as active union members increases the voices heard within unions. Despite differences in union structures across different countries, occupations and economic sectors, the participation of women in unions has had a transformative effect on internal participation in decision-making by rank and file workers. Persistent voicing of women workers'' concerns either forces union administrations to alter some of the less-participatory ways in which they function or resist women''s influence and agenda. The former in turn holds the promise of making union membership and participation more attractive to all workers; while the latter, despite the fact that women are the fastest growing proportion of union membership, helps to sustain an image of labor as ''men only.''

Last Updated: 10/12/2005