Financial Exploitation of Women in the Workplace Is the Canary in the Coal Mine

May 13, 2015 | | Truth Out |

Caroline Fredrickson, author of Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, recently shared her findings with Truthout on how female workers - particularly in labor-intensive jobs - continue to be economically shortchanged in the United States.

Mark Karlin: You make the alarming and ominous prediction that the exploitation of women in the workplace may be the canary in the coal mine for the growing plight of all workers. How do you see that "leaning together" might reverse this trend?

Caroline Fredrickson: When more than 50 percent of the 99% are women, and, increasingly, women of color, feminists and those fighting against income inequality must come together to fuse a more powerful movement where our policies make the world fairer and our economy more responsive, without trading off the interests of the most vulnerable to ensure benefits for the few. At each turn, so many women, and now an increasing number of men, have been left out of the core protections for the American worker, from child care and family leave to flexible hours and a workplace free from discrimination.

Our nation is in the midst of great change, with greater demographic diversity, where women, including mothers - from the most impoverished to the middle class and above - work in high percentages, and where more and more workers are falling into a legal wasteland of limited rights and contingent employment relationships. As the workplace changes, "their" suffering is increasingly becoming "our" suffering. Our safety net is in fact more like a sieve, letting more and more people slip through. It needs to be rewoven, so it will actually catch people when they fall.