All too often, both in the mainstream and within the left, feminism and the labor movement are portrayed as “separate spheres,” two different movements that have different sets of concerns. Of course, this is not true now (nor has it ever been), but the narrative sticks.
To counter this narrative, Dissent contributor Sarah Jaffe gathered a group of feminist thinkers, writers, activists, and organizers whose work is done through the labor movement. They discussed organizing among teachers, fast food workers, domestic workers, and communities; the rise of the service economy and the decline (or outsourcing) of manufacturing, and the role of gender in all of these jobs. They called for a feminism of shorter hours, for an interrogation of the ideas of independence, dependence, and interdependence, and the need to redefine the idea of work itself.
Listen to the panel here:
Sarah Jaffe (moderator), co-host of Dissent magazine’s podcast Belabored, independent journalist, and author of “Trickle-Down Feminism.”
Jennifer Klein is professor of history at Yale University and a co-director of Yale’s Initiative on Labor and Culture. She is the author of Caring For America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State, co-authored with Eileen Boris. Her previous book on health care, pensions, and the politics of security is For All These Rights: Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America’s Public-Private Welfare State (2003). She is co-editor of the journal International Labor and Working-Class History. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, New Labor Forum, Dissent, Labor Notes, Democracy, and CNN.com. She has been active for over a decade with New Haven’s community organizing-labor coalition, working with Connecticut Center for a New Economy, Unite Here, CORD (Communities Organized for Responsible Development), and New Haven Rising.
Premilla Nadasen is a historian and activist who writes about welfare, domestic work, labor and social movements. She works closely with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and is currently writing a book on the history of domestic worker organizing.
Emily Giles is a high school science teacher in the south Bronx who has been in the classroom for ten years. She is a founding member of the UFT rank and file opposition caucus, MORE. She is also a member of the International Socialist Organization and contributor to Socialist Worker.
Olivia Leirer is the Communications and Social Media Director at New York Communities for Change, a community-based, member-led organization fighting for social and economic justice in low and moderate income communities throughout New York State. Her focus is putting the voices and stories of working families at the front of our movement and integrating new technologies into organizing. Olivia is a proud alumna of Antioch College where she studied Creative Writing and Gender Studies.