Women’s Workforce Federation aka WOWFED
Women…The New Face of Labor Unions!
by Gena Bettencourt
There is a saying in the labor movement: The leadership should look like the membership. In the early labor movement, women were among the first workers to endure the rigors of the industrial revolution and took action to
protest their arduous working conditions and low wages. Since then, there have been significant strides and progress giving women a rising share of representation within the labor movement. Today 45 percent of union members are women. However, despite the growing share of union jobs, the faces of women are not likely to be seen in union leadership.
Women in the labor movement experience many challenges from paycheck fairness, access to affordable health care and childcare to planning for retirement. On top of everyday worries of making ends meet, women must also deal with the patriarchal society of unequal power relations between men and women as women are highly underrepresented in leadership roles. Men mostly fill the influential positions while the majority of women are in administrative positions.
Understanding gender in the union context is a struggle and the importance of eliminating barriers to women’s participation in the unions, Marcus Asay founded Women’s Workforce Federation, also known as, WOWFED.
WOWFED was inspired by Chairman Asay’s desire to create a workplace culture that transmits a message of completeness and diversity – including gender diversity. His goal is to empower and support women all over the country by making a compelling case for gender diversity, ensuring that hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair, and investing in women’s health, wellness, and continued training and education.
To fully move into the 21st century, empowerment is vital to the growth and future of women and I am proud to play an integral part of creating the new face of union leadership with WOWFED.