Right smack dab in the middle of Women's History Month we've been treated to the spectacle of Wisconsin's new GOP Gov. Scott Walker taking apart public-sector workers' bargaining rights and women's labor gains in the process.
March 29, 2011– Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's slash-and-burn approach to public sector unions–imitated by over a dozen Republican governors across the nation–is the political equivalent of slamming women's labor history into reverse. Right in the middle of Women's History Month.
While women represented 57 percent of the public-sector work force at the end of the recession, women lost the vast majority–79 percent–of the 327,000 jobs cut in this sector between July 2009 and February 2011, according to a January report by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women's Law Center.
Of course these job losses–and those still to come–have a bad ripple effect, leading to even more unemployment, spreading the pain far beyond the initially affected workers.
As public school class sizes get larger, as sports budgets are cut and afterschool programs eliminated, who will help with homework, coaching teams and organizing after-school activities?
These regressive budgets cut funds for home-heating oil assistance, help for the sight-impaired, street repair, water and sewage facility maintenance, nutrition programs and respite care. Not only will women have fewer options for paid work outside the home, the day-to-day work of family life will increase as well. Pressures on finances and family time will intensify. Expand. Explode.
Even today–after decades of employment advances for women–many men upon marriage free ride on wives' unpaid household labor. Having a husband increases a woman's domestic labor responsibilities by seven hours a week. Getting married decreases men's housework by an hour a week. This well-known pattern was confirmed in a 2008 study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.