Labor's big day on the MallBus loads of federal and union...

Newswatch . . . on federal workers

August 28, 1991|By Kate McKenna | Kate McKenna,States News Service

Labor's big day on the Mall

Bus loads of federal and union workers will be leaving Baltimore for Washington early Saturday morning to join the massive gathering that will be SOLIDARITY DAY '91 starting at ** 10 a.m. near the Mall at Constitution Avenue and 14th Street.

There will be representatives from the Balti more office of the American Federation of Government Employees and from the Local Labor Council of Baltimore, as well as from the AFL-CIO and its 89 affiliated unions.

The 10th annual SOLIDARITY gathering, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of workers and unionists nationwide, will get moving at noon Saturday with a march down the Mall from 14th Street to the U.S. Capitol. Leading the march will be the Electrical Workers' bagpipe marching band.

National leaders expected to participate include Benjamin Hooks the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Molly Yard of the National Organization for Women; Coretta Scott King of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Change and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Also scheduled to speak are New York Mayor David N. Dinkins and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Their appearances were made possible after the traditional New York City Labor Day parade was scratched this year to enable trade unionists from the area to march on Washington this Saturday instead.

The entertainment roster is headed by country singer Willie Nelson, folk singers Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, actress Jean Stapleton, actors Theodore Bikel and Ron Silver, and Metropolitan Opera diva Pamela Warrick-Smith.

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union Chorus will perform, and bands are being provided by the Postal Workers and Letter Carriers union.

For more information, call (301)-966-9815 or the AFL-CIO main office in Washington at (202)-637-5334.

The older worker:

A huge, under-used labor force in both the public and private sectors is suffering from pay disparity and prejudice, according to testimony given at a Senate hearing called to address the problems of the nation's older women workers.

"Many employers still believe that older workers are rigid, cannot be trained in new technologies, that they cost more to employ and cannot work as efficiently as young people," said Sen. William S. Cohen, D-Maine, who chaired the most recent Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on the issue.

Although Cohen said these "myths" refer both to male and female workers, it is the special problems affecting the 10 million working women age 50 and over -- as well as the estimated 3 million who are looking for jobs -- to which the Senate committee turned its attention on Aug. 2.

While women have made great strides in the workplace during the past 20 years, there is still a long way to go, said Cohen, who pointed out several hurdles that need to be overcome:

* Women workers face age discrimination at earlier ages than do men, as early as age 40.

* Women experience longer periods of unemployment than do men, and the vast majority of women today are still working in traditionally "female" jobs for low wages.

* Women earn 75 percent of what men earn for comparable jobs.

* Women between ages 50 and 64 earn only 55 percent of what men their age earn.

* Fewer women than men are covered by public or private pensions.

* Inadequate pay or pensions often thrust older women into poverty; 70 percent of all older Americans living below the poverty level are women, who therefore have more of a need to work after retirement.

The Department of Labor's Older Worker Task Force defines older workers as anyone between 47 and 74 years of age. But Elsie Vartanian, who heads the Labor Department's Women's Bureau, includes homemakers from under 35 to over 65 within this terminology.

"Between now and the year 2000, the population from which the work force must be drawn will include fewer young people and considerably more older people," Vartanian said. "Employers will have to reconsider the traditional methods of recruiting, training/retraining and managing older workers.

"Far more attention will have to be given to the design of jobs and working conditions that are deliberately tailored to the distinctive capabilities, limitations, needs and preferences of older workers now employed and others, who, under the right circumstances, might choose to become re-employed."

The Senate panel heard how three pilot programs aimed at recruiting and retaining older workers -- at Days Inn of America, the Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Corp., and the British store chain B&Q -- debunked several myths about older workers.

Days Inn, for example, the nation's third largest hotel chain, started recruiting workers ages 50 and older in 1986 after having difficulty finding skilled younger workers. The company had also found problems with the turnover rate among young people.

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