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Letter to the Editor: Why Unions Are Good for Working Women

May 25, 2011

Women at UNH need a union because of our demands in the workplace and at home that can negatively affect our economic status. To better understand the socioeconomic position of working women, it is best to look at the facts:

  1. Women comprise 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 46.9 percent of the labor force in 2018.*

  2. Women make only 77.5 cents for every dollar that men earn.**

  3. Men with children appear to get an earnings boost, whereas women with children lose earnings. And women with children earn about 2.5% less than women without children.**

  4. Women may work longer than men to receive the promotions that provide access to higher pay and power.*

  5. 33% of women 45-56 years old are simultaneously caring for parents and their children.***

Nationally, working women are especially vulnerable to economic insecurity. There are more than 53 million “women on their own” who are divorced, separated, widowed, are with male partners and have chosen not to marry or are in relationships with other women.  How many women at UNH can identify with “women on their own?” We don’t know because as an institution, we have not recently (if ever) looked at the various ways UNH female staff members are impacted by the national economic climate or how they will be impacted by the proposed budget cuts. If women had a voice at the table with the administration, we would be able to ensure those studies are conducted and the results were used to inform and guide change at the system level – for all women.

Because millions of working women across our country have organized and joined unions, they are earning better pay, exposed to more career opportunities, and enhanced benefits such as health insurance, childcare, family leave and flexible working arrangements. Being in a union has been found to raise women’s wages by 11.2 percent – about $2 per hour – compared to nonunion women, with similar characteristics. And among women workers, those in unions are about 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance. Unions are good for women.

We are a group of women, from various positions at UNH, who support the PAT Union. We want to go home each night knowing we are still not making 77.5 cents to the dollar less than our male counterparts. We encourage all our PAT colleagues to join us in an effort to make our voices and unique concerns heard at UNH. We hope that you will sign your authorization card today. Doing so is one step in a long process of ensuring that we have a future that opens up options for working proactively with the Board of Trustees to ensure that our equity is a priority, not an afterthought.

Signing your authorization card is a confidential process; learn more at www.supportpat.wordpress.com or at our information tables around campus.

Amy Culp is a 9-year UNH employee and works at SHARPP. She is an ex-officio member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Katherine Derby is an 11-year UNH employee and works in Information Technology.

Katherine Gillen is a 7-year UNH employee, having worked as an instructor in the English department and now in the Writing Program.

Delia Konzett is an 8-year UNH employee and is Associate Professor of English and Cinema/Women's/American Studies.

Maria Larkin is a 7-year UNH employee and works in Health Services.  

Trece Mettauer is a 10-year UNH employee, currently a non-tenure line faculty member and Coordinator of Community Outreach Scholarship on the Manchester campus.  She is a former member and co-chair of the UNH Women's Commission.

Krystalynne Morris is a 9-year UNH employee and works in the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies.

Melissa Nicholson is a 1.5 year UNH employee who works at Health Services.
Joelle Ruby Ryan is a 2-year UNH employee and works as a Lecturer in the Women's Studies Program. She is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Ellen Semran is a 5-year UNH employee and works at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Siobhan Senier is a 10-year UNH employee and teaches in the English department.

Vickie Smith is a 13 year UNH employee who works in The Women’s Studies Program.

Sarah Stitzlein is a 4-year UNH employee who teaches in the Education department and Women’s Studies.

Cait Vaughan is a 3-year UNH employee and works at the Center for the Humanities.

Lori Wright is a 10-year UNH employee and works in Media Relations. She is co-chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Dawn Zitney is a 7-year UNH employee, having worked at Health Services and now at SHARPP.   She is a former member and co-chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Faina Bukher is a 3-year UNH employee and works in Residential Life.


*United States Department of Labor
** General Accountability Office (GAO)
*** National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women

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