The gender pay gap. Unpredictable, inflexible work schedules. Discrimination on the job.
These were just some of the topics addressed today at The United State of Women, a summit hosted by the White House to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and find effective solutions to the most daunting issues still facing working females in our country.
More than 5,000 guests attended, and as they entered, they were greeted by photographs from the “Women Can Build” exhibit. The collection features the images of real women who make a living in transportation manufacturing, and is a project of the Jobs to Move America Coalition, of which TTD has been a member since 2013.
Each photograph is a powerful testament to the strength women bring to this country’s workforce, and a reminder of the barriers women are breaking. Each photograph also echoes what we already know: that union representation can have a profound and positive impact on the lives of America’s working women. That’s because strong union contracts, which employees negotiate together, ensure equal pay for equal work, set predictable work schedules, increase safety on the job and provide benefits like affordable health care and paid sick leave.
If our country is serious about changing the economic landscape for women, we must be able to provide quality jobs that benefit working women. As the photo exhibit shows, boosting America’s transportation manufacturing sector is one way to do that, and the Jobs to Move America coalition is leading the effort. By encouraging public transportation agencies to reward bidders that create U.S.-based jobs and hire a diverse workforce, we can create employment opportunities that benefit women, disadvantaged communities and help put unemployed Americans back to work.
But it isn’t just in manufacturing where women can thrive. Women have a place in all sectors of our nation’s transportation system. Thanks to strong union density in these fields, jobs in transportation pay, on average, nearly $4,000 per year more than the national median wage. For working women, who are more and more likely to be the breadwinners of their families, steady employment in these sectors means a better quality of life for them and their families.
Today, women represent approximately 35 percent of the workforce in transit and aviation and that number is lower in other sectors — which means there is room for growth. But as today’s summit highlights, our country has a lot of work to do to achieve equality for working women. Empowering women to see themselves as builders, welders, mechanics, fliers of airplanes, drivers of buses or captains of ships — and to know that they have a strong place in America’s transportation workforce — is a good place to start.
To learn more about the positive impact union representation has on the lives of working women, read remarks by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler, and Ariana Davis, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) from Seattle Washington, who spoke at today’s summit.