Women’s History Month: Care work

 

 

Care work is meeting the needs of others: teaching and raising the young, cooking and cleaning, caring for the elderly and other critical jobs. The International Labour Organization has a great explainer video on the care economy.

 

Care work makes all other work possible. But these jobs are often unpaid or underpaid, and outside regulations and social protections.

 

Care work in the U.S. has its roots in the stolen labor of enslaved people and immigrants, always predominantly women. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 excludes domestic workers, who were predominantly Black women, as a compromise to appease Southern congressmen.

 

The care economy also includes women caring for others in their own home. During the worst public health crisis in a century and an economic nosedive, there are few households in America not struggling to meet a caregiver crisis.

 

The burden is falling disproportionately on the shoulders of women, and without paid family leave and well-paying care jobs, it’s devastating. Women are the most likely to be laid off due to COVID-19 closures and the most likely to leave the workforce because of child care responsibilities.

 

So what do we do?

 

We demand policies that recognize the full value of care work and make those jobs well-paying union jobs.

 

We fight for paid family leave so that all caretakers have the right to balance their career and caring for their loved ones.

 

We’re asking you to call or write your senators to support the PRO Act, because collective action is a powerful tool to fight racism and sexism.

 

But we’re also asking you to intentionally look at who is doing the unpaid care work in your life. Then think about what you can do to share the work, whether it be taking on more or less.

 

In Solidarity,

 

Team AFL-CIO