March 18, 2023
Women’s History Month provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the lives of the countless pioneering women who have worked to shape our nation and world for the better. Their stories inspire us to fight for what’s right even when it is difficult, and to advocate not only for ourselves but also for others who need a voice or a helping hand. Yesterday, I was proud to announce my introduction of a congressional resolution to honor one of these trailblazers who called our Capital Region home — legendary labor leader and local hero Kate Mullany.
After immigrating to the Capital Region as a young girl, Kate Mullany worked to support her family under brutal conditions in Troy’s burgeoning collar industry. When factory owners introduced new equipment that increased production but worsened working conditions, Mullany organized her fellow workers into the Collar Laundry Union — America’s first all-female labor union. In 1864, she led a successful six-day strike that resulted in increased wages and improved working conditions, and she later received recognition from the National Labor Union as the first woman appointed to a labor union’s national office.
Kate Mullany’s life is a testament to the strength of the working women of the 19th century who struggled each and every day to secure safe working conditions, fight for livable wages, and demand the respect they deserved from the American labor movement. Standing at her former home in the heart of Troy, I was struck by the lasting impact of her efforts to better the lives of working women and their families. But if we are to truly honor Kate Mullany’s legacy, we must do much more to ensure equality in the workplace.
In the United States, women are still paid less than men for performing the same work. On average, women earn just 77 cents for every dollar paid to a man — a difference that adds up to nearly $1.6 trillion in lost income for women each year. This past Tuesday we recognized Equal Pay Day, which marks the day the average woman must work into the next year to finally earn what the average man earned in the previous year.
It’s simple: women deserve equal pay for equal work. And as a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, I’m working hard in Congress to make this commonsense goal a reality. This legislation would:
- Strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, breaking harmful patterns of pay discrimination and strengthening workplace protections for women
- Help eliminate the gender wage gap
- Guarantee the right of women to challenge pay discrimination
Women, families, and our nation as a whole cannot afford to wait for justice. I urge my colleagues to take up and pass this critical legislation as soon as possible.
Women across America are still fighting for equal pay and equal opportunity in the workplace. And just as Kate Mullany and her union sisters once did, many of these advocates are doing so through the power of organizing and collective bargaining. We know that strong unions are a key part of our efforts to secure better wages and conditions for women and all workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unionized women earn 23% more on average than women without the protections of a union.
That’s why I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2023. This bipartisan bill safeguards the right of all employees to come together to fight for better wages, benefits, and safer working conditions. It holds employers accountable by authorizing meaningful penalties for union-busting companies, strengthens support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their workplace rights, and prevents employers from meddling in union elections. In order to rebuild our middle class and build an economy that works for everyone — particularly for women in the workplace — we need legislation that ensures all workers have access to the power of union representation.
The history of our Capital Region is filled with the stories of women who have broken down barriers and helped better the lives of families across our nation. In this impressive pantheon of pioneers, Kate Mullany and her work stand out. We are all beneficiaries of her fierce pursuit of economic and social justice for countless workers. As we carry on her fight for justice, we owe it to her and to ourselves to honor her legacy and continue to tell her inspiring story.
As always, thank you for reading.
DID YOU KNOW?
My office and I are working to make sure you remain informed with the latest updates and recommendations from federal agencies. With that in mind, here is some information that may be of interest to you:
- With the summer travel season approaching, my office and I are here to assist you with all of your urgent passport needs.
- Because of increased passport processing times, the Department of State is advising individuals to apply as early as possible.
- The online passport application is available HERE at the State Department’s website.
- The online application should be used for all non-emergency situations (i.e., if your travel date is more than 11 weeks away).
- In most cases, your passport must be valid at least 6 months past the return date of your trip.
- Guardians may not submit online passport applications on behalf of their minor children. These applications can only be done via mail.
- Both guardians must sign off on passport applications for minor children.
- For in-person appointments where only one guardian can attend, that guardian must present a notarized consent form signed by the other guardian, which can be found on Travel.State.Gov.
- I encourage you to contact my office at (518) 465-0700 if you:
- Have an emergency and must travel outside the country
- Have not received your passport within two weeks of your travel date
- Have questions that cannot be answered by the resources at Travel.State.Gov
- Our office cannot guarantee a positive outcome, but we will do all we can to assist within current laws, rules, and policies.