Planned Parenthood chapter should back its workers, not side with Trump

Guardian Web |

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is asking Donald Trump’s National Labor Relations Board for help in busting its staff union. Last December staff at the clinic voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); management is challenging that decision.

By using the rightwing Trump administration against its own workers, a Planned Parenthood chapter is effectively pitting two powerful beacons of progressive politics against one another, at a time when we all need them to be working together. That’s bad enough. But it’s especially troubling for a reproductive rights organization to take an anti-union stance, given that unions are central to feminist progress.

Unionized workers suffer less sex discrimination and sexual harassment than other workers, and when they do experience these things, unions offer grievance procedures to address them, as well as solidarity and guidance. By contrast, the neoliberal workplace – and the gig economy – offer women the opportunity to lean in and suck it up.

According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), union membership is crucial if women want equal pay: among unionized men and women, the pay gap is half that of non-union workers. Indeed, women gain even more from joining unions than men do ($224 per week, on average, according to the NWLC). Their greater income and job security gives unionized women more sexual freedom; when women don’t have to depend on men, they can choose their partners, leave bad relationships, or even, to the distress of the incel movement, choose not to marry or date at all.

Given this critical link between unions and women’s economic power, the Colorado Planned Parenthood chapter’s move is particularly short-sighted. After all, women’s material conditions determine reproductive freedom itself.

With the decline in private-sector union membership, many women lack the family wage that makes motherhood a 'choice' at all

Today, in the United States, “choice” is not equally distributed among women. Since the Hyde amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, women depending on Medicaid can’t easily get them. “Choice”, according to much of the Democratic establishment, means “have an abortion if you can pay for it”. Even before abortion was legalized in this country, well-off women could leave the country and get it done (as was the case in Ireland before the country’s recent referendum to legalize abortion).

But the relationship between reproductive freedom and class is bigger than that. “Choice” isn’t only about deciding not to have babies. When we are enslaved by poverty and bad working conditions, we are often forced to remain childless against our will, as left-feminist writers Jenny Brown and Moe Tkacik have noted. Many young women in the US who would like to have children – or larger families – simply can’t afford to right now. With the decline in private-sector union membership, many women lack the family wage that makes motherhood a “choice” at all.

All this partly explains why nurses and teachers – most of whom are women – are organizing more visibly and successfully than any other workers right now: women need the labor movement. (The staff of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains face issues similar to those faced by nurses and teachers: low pay for work that is skilled, professional and, like a lot of work done by women, emotionally demanding.) It’s also why the work that nurses and teachers are doing is so much more sustained, widespread and contagious than any other feminist organizing of the Trump era, despite the scale, passion and vivid pink on display during the inauguration weekend Women’s Marches in 2017.

Women in the US also need Planned Parenthood. The organization not only fights for abortion rights in an environment of constant, knuckle-dragging conservative backlash, it provides sex education to kids and life-saving healthcare to women, all over the country. But the organization must not ignore the inextricable ties between economic and gender justice. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains should rethink its disastrous alliance with the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief and join the nationwide feminist labor movement. The first step is bargaining with its staff in good faith.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Comments

Emerging Growth

Global Cannabis

Global Cannabis Applications Corp is engaged in the design, acquire data and develop applications for smartphones and tablets. The company offer Citizen Green platform, an end to end infrastructure to…