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March 13 2014

Celebrating Working Women

Worker Institute organizes International Women's Day celebration

Tish JamesNew York City Public Advocate Leticia "Tish" James spoke at the annual International Women's Day event, Women Uniting...Leading...And Moving Forward!, on Friday to celebrate the continued growth of women's leadership in unions and the workforce.

"Together we will build a better New York, by taking on major issues facing women and workers," said James, addressing a crowd of more than 150 representatives of the New York City labor movement.

Women in New York City make 70 cents for every dollar a man makes, James said."In New York City, we are seeing the feminization of poverty; too many full time working women are on public assistance and in danger of homelessness."

This event was the third annual gathering co-organized by the Worker Institute at Cornell and the Workforce Development Institute to commemorate International Women's Day.

Maria FigueroaMaria Figueroa, director of policy and research at the Worker Institute at Cornell, said, "Every year, in collaboration with Sonia Ivany at the Workforce Development Institute, we bring labor women together to celebrate women's achievements in the workforce and to reflect on the challenges that women continue to face."

"This year, we were extremely honored to have the participation of the two most important women in New York City politics," said Figueroa referring to the participation of James, along with Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Following James' speech, presentations were given by women labor leaders including representatives of Transport Worker Union Local 100, United Federation of Teachers Local 2, 1199 SEIU and AFSCME DC37.They discussed issues specific to working women and their continually growing representation in NYC unions and politics.

Helen Schaub from 1199SEIU focused on issues facing front line health care workers, a workforce that is more than half immigrant workers and more than 90 percent female. "In New York City, more than one hundred thousand home care workers go to work every day to make sure that our loved ones can stay in their homes." Home care workers need a dignified wage and safe working conditions, Schaub said.

Barbara Edmonds of DC37 addressed the benefits of unionization for working women."Union women are 37 percent more likely to have health insurance and more than 50 percent more likely to have retirement pensions than their non-union counterparts," Edmonds said.

Sonia IvanyThis event was held at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Labor Studies and co-sponsored by the New York City Central Labor Council and the New York City Coalition of Labor Union Women.

For more information about the event, contact: workerinstitute@cornell.edu