Monica Ramirez

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Monica Ramirez

Monica Ramirez

Mónica Ramírez has dedicated more than two decades to the eradication of gender-based violence and the promotion of gender equity, specifically on behalf of Latinas and farmworker and immigrant women. She is nationally recognized for her work to prevent and remedy workplace sexual violence. Mónica is an attorney, advocate, speaker and author. She holds a B.A from Loyola University in Chicago, a Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Mónica is the Director of Gender Equality and Trabajadoras’ Empowerment for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).

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This blog post is co-authored by Mónica Ramírez and Brandy Compton.

Violence against women occurs worldwide: on the streets, in homes and in the workplace. 1 in 3 women globally. That’s 1,000,000,00 women and girls who will experience some form of violence in their lives. The experience of violence is not monolithic and impinges on all the interconnected spheres of a woman’s life from the home to the workplace. The fact that violence against women has reached these levels marks the urgency of raising awareness for this endemic problem. Most people equate February 14th with Valentine’s Day. However, today, 1 billion people worldwide will rise as a part of the V-Day movement to stand against this terrible and horrific reality that women and girls face. Women and girls are not the only victims of violence in our society, but the statistics show that they are more likely to suffer from a violent crime than men and boys. Today, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) rises in solidarity on this global day of action. We rise to show the victims and survivors that they are not alone.

Exploitation against women occurs in a myriad of ways from physical assault and violence to emotional abuse, economic abuses, and sexual exploitation. Many Latinas experience these problems and, sometimes, they suffer multiple forms of violence.  A victim of domestic violence may also be a victim of sexual harassment at work and wage theft.  While each incidence may cause result in different harms for the victim, separately and cumulatively they have lasting consequences for women and their families.

Latinas, for example, suffer high rates of violence, according to Casa de Esperanza, a national anti-violence organization.  They also experience the widest wage gap of any other ethnic group in the United States. Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts make. Further, they suffer from some of the highest rates of workplace sexual violence. Imagine the way that this wage disparity effects this woman and her family.  With the wages that she is cheated, she could send her children to college, and provide full healthcare for herself and her children. In addition, consider how failing to pay a woman her full earnings bears on her ability to leave an abusive partner or save enough resources to quit the job where they are being exploited.
 
Economic oppression is a form of violence that, at times, leaves victims vulnerable to further exploitation.  Failing to pay Latinas what they are owed for their hard work is a direct attack on them, their livelihoods, their families and their future.

LCLAA is dedicated to raising awareness about some of the ways in which Latinas are experiencing abuse and exploitation at work, including physical, sexual and economic violence and oppression. Though these problems are immense and, at times, might seem overwhelming, we know that we cannot back down from speaking out and taking action.

Violence against women in the workplace and any place is both a women’s rights and a human rights issue.  Unions and all workers’ rights organizations, along with all members of our society, must stand up and speak out against violence in all its forms.  To that end, LCLAA will maintain Trabajadoras’ success and safety at the forefront.  By organizing, lifting our voices and standing shoulder to shoulder, we will send the resounding message to victims and survivors that we stand with them. RISE UP with us today to speak out against violence in the workplace and every place.

Brandy Compton is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles studying Gender Studies with a minor in Public Affairs. She is a participant of the UCDC Quarter in Washington academic and research program and is a Policy & Advocacy intern with LCLAA.

Mónica Ramírez has dedicated more than two decades to the eradication of gender-based violence and the promotion of gender equity, specifically on behalf of Latinas and farmworker and immigrant women. She is nationally recognized for her work to prevent and remedy workplace sexual violence. Mónica is an attorney, advocate, speaker and author. She holds a B.A from Loyola University in Chicago, a Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Mónica is the Director of Gender Equality and Trabajadoras’ Empowerment for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).

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One month ago, scores of organizations and individuals came together to register our outrage about the enormous gender wage gap that Latinas face in the workplace. November 1st marked the eleven additional months that it would take the average Latina worker, or Trabajadora, to work to earn what a white, male non-Hispanic worker in the same job was paid in just one year. This is how long it takes when you get paid 54 cents to the dollar paid to white, male workers. Collectively we sounded an alarm marking both our discontent and our commitment to close this gap and win equitable wages for Latinas and all workers.

Our commitment to this issue endures beyond this one day. The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is devoted to continued efforts to get out the facts, raise our voices, and mobilize Latino labor leaders and workers around the country for action. Change requires persistent action and dedication, singularly focused on achieving equity, yet cognizant that achieving this end requires an investment in a myriad of different social justice campaigns.

A holistic view of why Latinas are at the bottom of the economic ladder requires an understanding of intersectionality and intentional commitment to work across movements. This is necessary to ensure that we are taking into account the whole picture - all of the reasons and all of the ways that Latina workers are experiencing wage theft, wage suppression and wage discrimination, including but not limited to gender, race, immigration status, sexual orientation and identity, marital status, motherhood or the choice not to have children, language, social status, education, language and a number of other factors that cannot be overlooked or minimized..

LCLAA looks forward to working with all of our partners to advance this strategy, to continuing conversations about this topic and to looking outside the box and across the aisle for solutions. You can show your support by championing campaigns addressing issues related to the wage gap, and the intersection of economic inequality and other important justice movements, including:

1. Equal Pay. Equal Pay Today Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union

Equal Pay Today works in coalition to leverage the expertise, network, and resources of its state projects and roundtable organizations to close the gender wage gap across the United States.

The campaign's vision includes: Compliance with existing laws, eliminating the gendered wage gap, transparency in pay without retaliation, fair overtime pay, an end to wage theft, and family-forward human resources policies that protect and support all workers.

2. Wage Transparency. Equal Pay Campaign, Restaurant Opportunities Center

Pay secrecy often prevents workers from discovering and taking action against wage discrimination. The "Wage Transparency Amendment Act" would increase pay equity and transparency by prohibiting retaliation against employees for discussing their wages and eliminating wage non-disclosure agreements, or so-called "pay secrecy" policies.

3. Living Wage. #FightFor15, Fight for 15


The Fight for a $15 minimum wage has rightly been called the civil rights movement of our time, and has grown into an international movement in over 300 cities on six continents of fast-food workers, home health aides, child care teachers, airport workers, adjunct professors, retail employees - and underpaid workers everywhere. (Also see "Tipped Minimum Wage" and "One Fair Wage" campaign from Restaurant Opportunities Center, below!)

4. Tipped Minimum Wage. One Fair Wage CampaignRestaurant Opportunities Center


Did you know that tipped workers are paid a separate, lower minimum wage? It's $2.13 an hour at the federal level, a rate that hasn't changed since 1991. That's bad enough, but the tipped minimum wage is especially unjust and harmful for women workers. Because they are dependent on customer tips for the vast bulk of their wages, women workers are often forced to tolerate sexual harassment and even assault at work.

5. Sexual Harassment. Hands Off, Pants On Campaign, UNITEHERE
In order to better understand the experience of women working in Chicagoland hotels and casinos, UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago's hospitality workers union, pioneered a program to survey nearly 500 women. The study reveals that 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers surveyed have been sexually harassed by a guest. Sexual harassment and assault are gendered oppression, and clear workplace safety threats.

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