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Jolene DiBrango: A woman’s place is in her union

The following article appeared in the Utica Observer-Dispatch and was written by Jolene DiBrango.  DiBrango is executive vice president of the more than 600,000-member New York State United Teachers. She graduated from New Hartford High School and Mohawk Valley Community College.


Working at General Electric in Utica assembling radios after World War II, my grandmother was a trailblazer for women in the workplace.

My grandmother Rose lived with dignity in retirement because of Social Security and her small GE pension.

Similarly, my mother worked as a paraprofessional in New Hartford schools. Because of her union card, my parents have affordable health care and a small pension that enable them to live with dignity in their golden years.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, labor unions like New York State United Teachers and others deserve credit for many of the workplace policies that have contributed to opportunity and economic progress for generations of women.

However, these gains won by women in my family – and other females in today’s workforce – are now under attack. The wealthy elite and corporate interests want to destroy unions, roll back wages and benefits, and take away the ability of workers – especially women – to fight for higher pay, good benefits, safety on the job and a secure retirement.

Teaching, nursing, as well as counseling and social work, are just a few examples of women-led occupations that…

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