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Don’t Be Ladylike! Women Leading AFL-CIO Labor Councils in New England

February 27, 2024
6:00PM - 7:30PM
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  • President Katherine Maurice (VT AFL-CIO)
  • President Cynthia Phinney (ME AFL-CIO)
  • Secretary-Treasurer Danielle Bombardier (VT AFL-CIO)
  • Secretary-Treasurer Shellye Davis (CT AFL-CIO)
  • Executive Vice President Ellen Kaye (VT AFL-CIO)

Behind the encouraging news articles highlighting an increase in union elections, strike activity, and general support for unions are the many women who have been organizing and leading these efforts. Almost half of workers represented by a union are women (47.1%), and approximately 60% of newly organizing workers have been women over the past decade. Women make up 23% of the National AFL-CIO Executive Council. Among AFL-CIO State Federations, women hold the top offices in 16 out of 50 states. 

While much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. A recent study identified six barriers to women’s leadership in unions: One is the extra burden of family care, which still falls mainly on women; two, the additional discrimination and scrutiny women face at work and beyond makes them fearful of retribution; three, the lack of women in current leadership provides too few role models; four, social and cultural gender roles do not portray leadership as a role for women; five, women are less aware of how union leadership may benefit their lives as workers; and, six, unions place too little emphasis on the priorities and concerns of women.

Join us for a conversation with the women leading AFL-CIO Labor Councils in New England to discuss how they overcame the odds, why they became leaders, and what they are doing to lower the barriers to union membership and leadership for women.