In the Grid feature of today’s Chicago Sun-Times, Francine Knowles profiles Anne Ladky, the Executive Director of Women Employed. Ladky points out that too many women still work in low wage jobs. She estimates that 17 million women work at jobs that pay less than $12 an hour. Worse still, it’s not unusual for these jobs to schedule employees at less than 40 hours a week, which means no benefits, no security.
Ladky advocates improved education and better programs to assist low wage workers. While I agree with her in these areas, which should be called common sense solutions, the trend on a national and local level seems to be flying in the other direction. Few politicians support funding any kind of social program. Instead, they call for cuts to any program that helps people (except for the very rich and corporations). Several major cities, including Chicago, are closing schools, which means young women (and men) most likely to be low wage workers are being packed in larger and larger classes. How will they be able to compete in an economy that requires greater knowledge and skills? Is it possible to talk about meritocracy if so many have no chance to succeed?
Ladky and Women Employed are fighting the good fight. May they stay strong and lead to a better world for all of us.