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Unions: Champions for Women


Because of the many and diverse benefits offered by unions, women are making up an increasing percentage of the construction workforce.

As we kick off Women In Construction week, let’s take a moment to spotlight a powerful force leveling the playing field for women: unions. The journey of women in the workforce has been fraught with systemic discrimination, harassment, unequal pay and limited opportunities for advancement. From the garment workers of the early 20th century to the women building New York City’s skyline today, unions have played a pivotal role in breaking down these barriers. 

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Unions have taken the lead in the fight against the gender pay gap, championing equal pay for equal work. Through relentless advocacy and negotiation, they've made strides in getting women the compensation they deserve. Recent studies prove the effectiveness of these efforts: the wage gap for women under union contracts is significantly smaller than in the non-union sector. 

Securing Essential Benefits

Beyond the paycheck, unions have been instrumental in winning benefits that allow women— still the primary caregivers in most families—  to have a work-life balance. Maternity leave, childcare support, and flexible working arrangements are just the start. These are more than just perks; they're hard-won rights that allow women to thrive both on the job and at home.

Fighting for Workplace Safety and Dignity

In the battle against workplace harassment, unions have drawn a line in the sand. On a union job, women have a clear path for elevating issues and fighting back. On a non-union job, they live in fear of being unfairly dismissed if they speak up. That’s because unions have comprehensive policies and support structures that empower women to stand up to abuse, ensuring that job sites are both safe and productive.

Unions have taken the lead in the fight against the gender pay gap, championing equal pay for equal work.

Amplifying Women's Voices in Leadership

Unions do more than fight for workplace rights. They give women a seat at the table and a platform to lead and influence. Programs like the LiUNA Women’s Caucus are shining examples of how to ensure women’s voices are heard. By promoting female leadership within their ranks, unions ensure that women's concerns are addressed and contributions are valued. The result? More effective and inclusive decision-making.

Looking Ahead

The journey towards full equality continues and unions are at the forefront of the fight. With every negotiated contract, unions are turning the tide, ensuring women get their rightful pay and the respect and opportunities they deserve. If you live in New York City, you can play your part by asking your realtor: “who built this building?”


Mark Colangelo is a writer and blogger.

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