How Unions Help Working Women

In The New York Times, culinary worker Brittany Bronson talks not only about the benefits of joining her union, but also about the opportunities being part of a unionized workforce offer women, particularly women who have long careers in the workforce. An excerpt:

Unions are strong in Las Vegas, and they bring benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of: Beyond better wages and health care packages, union members are ensured set schedules and their first choice of coveted shifts, based on seniority. It’s why there are so many lifers in my industry: At the top of our cocktailing matriarchy was a woman who had joined the union in 1973.

So although the stereotype of a cocktail server is a young, provocatively dressed woman, if you visit a unionized casino on a Friday night, you will find that most women working the pit have fine lines and wrinkles, maybe even gray hair around their temples. Or, come on a weekday to witness the 9 a.m. arrival of unionized housekeepers, predominantly older Hispanic women, the earliest pioneers of the union and a matriarchy in their own right.

And matriarchy is the right word: While there are a good number of men in Vegas’s union jobs, women—and in particular older, immigrant women—make up a vast majority of Culinary [Workers Union Local] 226’s members, and are often its leading voices.

The Las Vegas casino scene runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age.

Read the full essay.