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A Reminder of Where We Came From and What We Still Need to Do

Richard Trumka Quote

I’ll tell you the truth, I watched the PBS documentary "MAKERS: Women Who Make America" because one of our top staffers at the AFL-CIO and Working America, Karen Nussbaum, was in it.  I’m so glad I did.  I had forgotten what a steep climb it has been for women in this country.  It wasn’t that long ago women had little or no place in sports, culture, public life, or the workplace.

The MAKERS documentary weaves these stories together, and it’s “the MAKERS” themselves who tell them—the inspiring women who made these breakthroughs.  I was moved by the audacity of women athletes, the grit of women in non-traditional jobs and the bravery of women who demanded an end to violence and sexual harassment.

The progress is stunning, but there is so much left to do.  Much of the social agenda is still waiting for action.  Women and families need child care, after school care, control over work hours, earned paid family and sick leave—and a voice on the job.  I’m appalled to say that instead of progress, we’ve gone backward when it comes to the social safety net—fewer than half of workers have paid sick leave, retirement security has eroded and median household incomes continue to stagnate.  Women won’t have equality in the workplace until all workers have the resources to do their jobs well, the ability to care for their families and the right to bargain collectively.

The MAKERS reminded me of the urgency of this unfinished agenda.  Watch MAKERS.  And then go out and fight for good jobs and a social safety net that allows both men and women to have both a career and a family.


This blog was cross-posted on in cooperation with the AFL-CIO.