As your Councilmember, I will continue to build the movement against sexism, sexual violence, and workplace discrimination. Seattle needs to establish an elected, independent office to investigate workplace sexual and gender harassment, with full powers to hold corporations accountable. I’ll fight to end the gender pay gap, beginning with an audit of pay disparity in all companies doing business in Seattle. We also need to expand the city’s programs against domestic violence and housing alternatives and shelters for women leaving abusive relationships. To win women’s liberation, we need to challenge the sexist system of vast inequality and discrimination.
With a “Predator-in-Chief” who openly brags about committing sexual assault and threatens to repeal Roe v. Wade, our city needs to take a bolder lead in standing up for women’s rights.
Trump is only the tip of the iceberg. Women face wideshpread workplace discrimination, domestic violence and sexual assault, an epidemic of sexual harassment on and off the job, and attacks on our reproductive rights and access. At the same time, the ongoing cuts to social services and unprecedented level of income inequality disproportionately impact us.
Yet the explosion of #MeToo as a rallying point for workplace actions against sexual harassment, particularly by Google and McDonalds workers, clearly shows the potential for a powerful organized fightback against sexism.
Stop Sexual Harassment On & Off the Job
The #MeToo movement should be a wake-up call for Seattle’s elected officials to establish landmark anti-harassment policies.
Last year, a group of City of Seattle employees came forward to report sexual harassment by their bosses. Councilmember Sawant stood with these employees who are courageously organizing against workplace harassment and who founded Seattle Silence Breakers. Appallingly, instead of having the employees’ complaints taken seriously, their bosses who were found guilty of harassment were merely shuffled to other departments in the City. On the other side, two of the bravest and most outspoken women were offered settlements which involved a promise to never work for the City again, essentially being blacklisted by the City establishment for speaking out against their harassers. This outcome is unacceptable, and points to an urgent need to completely overhaul the City’s process for handling harassment complaints.
The miscarriage of justice in cases like the Silences Breakers’, as well as the pervasiveness of harassment and discrimination in our society, show the City must establish an elected, independent office to investigate workplace sexual harassment in all Seattle workplaces — both public and private sector — with full powers to hold corporations and public employers accountable. All workers should have quick, easy access to a confidential process for reporting harassment that does not put them at risk of retaliation by their employer.
If sexual harassment is genuinely taken up in the workplace, with serious protections as well as serious consequences, this will have a tremendous impact on combating the harassment and threats of violence that women face in our daily lives outside of work. It’s crucial that the women’s movement builds momentum and boldly takes on all forms of sexism, pushing forward the struggles of all women.
No City Should Have a Gender Pay Gap in 2019
Seattle has the largest gender pay gap of any major metropolitan area in the nation, as well as one of the highest labor participation gender gaps. We need to require corporations doing business in Seattle to open their books for an audit of pay disparity, so that we can address this fundamental issue of gender inequality. Additionally, the city should provide public and affordable childcare for all, to ensure that no woman is forced to leave the workforce in order to start a family.
Unions are statistically one of the most effective ways to eliminate the gender pay gap, because union contracts create a standard pay scale in the place of the whims of a manager influenced by sexism in our society. Supporting unionization in new workplaces and helping to build stronger existing unions are key weapons for eliminating the gender pay gap. Workers’ rights are womens’ rights.
Reproductive Justice & Medicare For All
It’s no secret that the Republican Party has been fighting tooth and nail to not only abolish the right to abortion, but also to decimate abortion access in the meantime. Even in Washington State, reproductive healthcare providers such as Planned Parenthood have faced ongoing legislative threats to their funding at the state level on top of the constant federal attacks on their ability to provide crucial services.
All people in Seattle, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status should have access to fully funded healthcare services, including comprehensive and free sexual and reproductive healthcare. We need to increase reproductive healthcare funding and establish statewide universal healthcare as a step toward a national Medicare-for-All system.
Housing & Homelessness
Seattle’s homelessness and housing affordability crisis is a women’s rights issue. On average, one person in our district is evicted every other day, disproportionately women. In fact, four out of five people who are evicted for less than $100 are women. Rising rents and lack of affordable housing are linked to a sharp increase in women staying in abusive relationships to avoid dangers of housing insecurity and homelessness. For those who do end up homeless, rates of sexual abuse and harassment without secure housing are astronomical.
We need rent control as an immediate measure to stop Seattle’s skyrocketing rents and lack of affordable housing. And we urgently need to tax Amazon and big business to fund a massive expansion of permanently affordable social housing to ensure that every woman — and every person — in Seattle has access to safe housing. This must include an expansion of city programs against domestic violence with housing alternatives and shelters for women leaving abusive relationships. These programs have also under constant attack. Twice in 2018, my office fought alongside housing activists to win a restoration of funding for Seattle’s women’s shelters and the Women’s Referral Center, which had been defunded by the Mayor.
Take the movement for women’s rights from #MeToo to #Fightback:
Women are overwhelmingly harmed by policies that benefit corporations at the expense of the working people. The lack of funding for housing, family leave, affordable childcare, and enforcement of workers’ and civil rights disproportionately impacts women, pushing some out of the workforce and making economic independence unachievable for millions. Lack of economic independence makes women vulnerable to partner abuse and workplace harassment.
If Seattle continues to be turned into a playground for the rich, what is at stake for women, as well as people of color, the LGBTQ community, and all working people, is our future in this city. In the era of Trump, we need Councilmembers who will consistently stand up against sexism and bigotry, and fight alongside those under attack from the right wing and billionaire class.
- From #MeToo To #FightBack: End sexual harassment! Create an elected office to investigate workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination in all Seattle workplaces, with full powers to hold corporations accountable.
- End workplace discrimination and the gender pay gap. Women face highly unequal treatment and access to promotions, while Seattle has the worst level of gender pay disparity in the nation. End the gender pay gap, beginning with an audit of pay disparity in all companies doing business in Seattle. Build the movement and organize alongside labor unions to win equal pay for women and an end to workplace harassment.
- Single Payer Healthcare: Pass a statewide single-payer healthcare system, as a step toward a national Medicare-for-All system, with free reproductive care for all.
- 15 weeks of paid family leave for all Seattle workers. Many families and working mothers do not have access to paid family leave in our city and studies show that it is children who pay the price.
- Expand the city’s programs against domestic violence. Help prevent domestic violence and fully fund services for survivors. Expand housing alternatives and shelters for women leaving abusive relationships, paid for by taxing the rich.
- Fight sexism! Build the movement against sexual harassment, discrimination and violence against women.