released in March, 2015
A Guide to Organizing Women's Committees
Everything You Need to Know to Make a Difference
released in February, 2014
Women’s Committees in Worker Organizations
Still Making a Difference
released in August, 2010
New Approaches to Organizing Women & Young Workers:
Social Media & Work Family Issues
released in July, 2010
Stepping Up, Stepping Back:
Women Activists ‘Talk Union’ Across Generations
Is There a
Woman’s Way of Organizing?
Gender, Unions, and Effective Organizing
No Holds Barred:
The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing
Cornell study shows massive company law-breaking against unions
'I knew I could do this work'
Seven Strategies to Promote Women's Activism & Leadership in unions
released in April, 2012
The Next Generation:
A Handbook for Mentoring Future Union Leaders
released in September, 2013
Mentoring101 teaching guide: Powerpoint w.notes, worksheet
Young Workers: A Lost Decade:
Comprehensive AFL-CIO / Working America 2009 report:
In the early history of unionization, unions and other organizations limited the participation of women or organized them into separate unions. Such restrictions are not the case today, but the fact remains that genuine, systemic equality for women at the workplace, in unions, and within the labor movement is still unrealized.
A Guide to Organizing Women's Committees builds on the findings of the Women's Committees in Worker Organizations report to provide step-by-step instruction for forming women's committees in unions and worker-centered organizations. Union and worker center members can use this Guide to plan and implement women's committees at their organizations.
The Guide was written by consultant, journalist, and author, Jane LaTour, in consultation with Cornell University Workers Institute faculty Lois Gray and Maria Figueroa. It was produced with funding and support from the Berger-Marks Foundation.
This 2-hour workshop was developed by Dale Melcher, former staff of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Labor Extension Program and is based on the Guide to Organizing Women's Committees. It can be used at meetings and conferences to instruct participants on planning and implementing women's committees at their organizations. It explores the question of what a women's committee can do for a union or worker center and reviews steps and strategies for developing a new women's committee or strengthening an existing one.
The workshop is accompanied by a series of handouts for workshop participants that include: an overview of the Guide, a summary of the benefits of women's committees, information and worksheets on recruiting members, and information and worksheets for planning a women's committee.
Authors of this report set out to collect case studies of women’s committees, women’s departments and other union sponsored separate organizing for further insights on their value to unions and to their women members. This report summarizes findings from interviews and data collection on six programs sponsored by national unions and case studies for six local unions and two non-traditional workers organizations.
Questions examined include:
When we brought together 30 women activists -- half of them younger than 35, the other half older than 35 -- to New Orleans for an intergenerational conversation about the labor movement, we found out a lot about what it is about unions that turns younger women on and what turns them off.
The observations and recommendations of these vibrant, intelligent women are captured in this very readable report published by the Foundation.
Stepping Up, Stepping Back presents an honest and complete reflection of how these women view social justice, the American labor movement and the role of younger women in unions, and it pulls no punches in its critique of today’s unions. Its prescription for change includes practical, yet bold, steps to help make the labor movement a “safe space” for tomorrow’s women workers and activists.
"Some of the most exciting and innovative strategies and tools are being developed by young organizers using new technology and social media," says this report. It gives specific examples of how they use Internet websites, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and texts, while cautioning that these approaches are no substitute for personal contact.
And young workers are even more concerned than older workers about work-family balance and caregiving responsibilities. That often motivates the desire for improvements like job security, health benefits, and less overtime, but these priorities aren't always framed as work and family issues.
The study concludes that "the immediate challenge for unions will be how to provide organizers with these tools, the skills to use them and the budget to maintain them," and gives recommendations. It calls for "a new union culture that is attractive to young workers" and says, "an effort should be made to reframe work and family issues as core labor issues."
As traditional industries decline, people are hiring into “informal and low-wage sectors” where turnover is high, legal protections are scarce, unions are rare, and workers tend to be immigrant women of color. Organizing such jobs is especially hard -- often there isn't even a central workplace. Researchers began with a series of focus groups and roundtable discussions in 2008 and 2009, where workers and organizers, most of them women, talked about how they mobilized diverse and fragmented workforces, and the experiences of women in unions.
The report then examines the tactics that worked -- such as linking up with groups in the community, cultural activities, and developing relationships that can endure for the long haul, with less focus on the union election. The campaigns held meetings wherever and whenever it was convenient for workers, mentored women and helped them become leaders, and addressed non-traditional issues important to them.
The report's findings are hard-hitting. It concludes that "change is not optional... If U.S. unions find it impossible to change, workers will build (and already are building) new structures and organizations to fight for their interests.”
Two out of three companies that unions tried to organize through an NLRB election between 1998 and 2003 violated U.S. labor law to fight the union. That’s what Kate Bronfenbrenner reveals in this study of 1004 union campaigns. Bronfenbrenner, who has been studying employer behavior for 20 years, found that employer law-breaking has sharply escalated.
This report gives the most comprehensive look ever at company tactics during union organizing campaigns and in bargaining contracts. In addition to studying five years of organizing drives that led to National Labor Relations Board-run elections, her research team also held in-depth interviews with 562 organizers. They found that the vast majority of companies use extreme tactics, legal and illegal, to thwart workers.
PLUS: Free Discussion Guide and Handout on strategies for union women, inspired by this report
“Unions are good for women workers, but they could be much better at promoting women into leadership positions,” said Amy Caiazza, IWPR's Director of Democracy and Society Programs, who authored this hard-hitting report released December 5, 2007.
Based on interviews with women union activists, the report also analyzes key obstacles that hold women back -- from not seeing enough women visible in leadership to feeling more vulnerable to being fired, seeing the priorities of women workers neglected, and having jobs that offer little experience seeing what unions do . “The strategies outlined in this report are designed to help women claim a voice of authority in an area that is traditionally dominated by men,” says Caiazza.
Stragegies range from: Addressing Women’s True Priorities and Creating and Supporting Formal Mentoring Programs to Providing Opportunities for Women to Strategize Together and Providing Flexible Options for Involvement.
Women Organizing Women highlights the experiences and insights of a group of highly skilled union organizers during a retreat in November 2004. Facilitated by National Labor College President Sue Schurman, 19 participants explored the best ways to increase the ranks of women organizers and support them in their work. The report includes participants' recommendations for improving the position of union organizer and sets a roadmap for the Foundation as it looks ahead.
Note: This report is in Adobe Acrobat
If you don't have a recent version of the Adobe Reader on your computer, click here.
quotes from the report (also highlighted
on the Berger-Marks home page).
|Dr. Bronfenbrenner of Cornell being introduced by Paul E. Almeida, DPE|
Presented at the DPE Conference on Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century, at Crystal City, Virginia, on March 14-16, 2005, this Berger-Marks-funded study is the most thorough investigation of union organizing among professional women ever conducted. Its conclusions emphasize the importance of professional women to the labor movement's future (see quote at right).
Dr. Kate Bronfenbrenner, a widely respected Cornell University educator and researcher, authored the study, after the Department for Professional Employees -AFL-CIO received $22,000 in funding for it from the Berger- Marks Foundation.
Note: This report is in Adobe Acrobat pdf format.
If you don't have a recent version of the Adobe Reader on your computer, click here.
Berger-Marks funding of academic research
& how to apply for grants
– Brittany Shoot,