Read the letter below and SIGN ON to oppose this action.
We write to you to voice our strong opposition to the dismantling of the Women’s Bureau regional offices, the proposed dramatic cut to the Women’s Bureau’s already limited budget, and the unilateral change to the mission of the Women’s Bureau. With only a small staff at the national US Department of Labor office in Washington, D.C., and regional offices throughout the country, the Women’s Bureau current budget is merely $11 million, despite its significant responsibility to promote women’s employment and economic security. A cut of 75 percent to an already minimal budget would be devastating and seriously erode the effectiveness of an agency whose mission is to promote employment. Such a cut is antithetical to the promise this administration made to create jobs and connect people to work – and certainly runs completely counter to the administration’s lip service to advancing women in the workplace.
For nearly 100 years, the Women’s Bureau has served as the only agency in the federal government charged with advocating for the interest of working women and for the economic security of women and their families. The Women’s Bureau first began in 1918 as an agency intended to create labor standards for women who were employed during World War I. In 1920, after the war ended, Congress established the Women’s Bureau of the US Department of Labor. In its early years, the Women’s Bureau documented conditions of working women, while creating labor standards for women on the state and federal levels.
By 1963, the Women’s Bureau had a staff of 100, including regional offices. Regional staff serve to convene programs to help women know their workplace rights, connect with community leaders, create resources for working women, and and serve as a catalyst to improve jobs, wages, and benefits for women and their families. Regional offices conduct outreach throughout the states in a manner centralized DC staff cannot do. This outreach increases the ability of the federal government to promote access to higher paying nontraditional careers in STEM, the trades, advanced manufacturing and other emerging industries. The regional staff also have a pulse on the needs of women in states and can help inform the US Department of Labor about issues and trends that might be emerging for women in the workforce.
The Women’s Bureau is a reliable source of research on women’s employment trends and leads efforts to provide gender analysis on important issues in the workplace. The Bureau’s reports and analysis have shaped workplace policy significantly over the years, beginning with analysis of minimum wage, over-time issues, basic safety and health standards and family and medical leave concerns.
This small agency has worked on high priority issues for working women such as paid leave, earned sick time, as well as highlighting the needs of women veterans. Women’s Bureau has also been at the forefront of addressing equal pay, ensuring breastfeeding and pregnancy accommodation, as well as working with women in the trades.
Issues that the Bureau once raised as “women’s issues” have become the standard for all workers today. While the labor force has changed significantly since the Bureau’s inception, women are still highly concentrated in low wage work, make up only a small percentage of C-suite positions in the private sector, and are not equally represented in high-level government positions. The research conducted by and funded through the Women’s Bureau, the outreach by regional office staff throughout the states, and the outstanding leadership within federal government to provide a gender lens to policymaking are critically important to women’s equality and engagement in the workforce.
In short, the Women’s Bureau is vital to women’s economic security. These proposed cuts send a message to the millions of working women whose opportunity, safety and advancement hang in the balance everyday that they are not a priority. We urge you to reject these cuts to the Women’s Bureau and restore its full budget and staff levels. Should you wish to discuss further, you may contact Wendy Chun-Hoon, Co-Director, Family Values @ Work, email@example.com directly.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
[Click SUBMIT to sign.]