Like others around the world, I mourned the death last week of Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul set a new standard for enduring classic songs with both artistic and political impact, like her mega-hit “Respect,” which became an anthem for both the civil rights and women’s movements.
And that song is on my mind as we embark on a week of action dedicated to shining light on the stakes for women in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Women deserve and demand respect in the workplace (more than “just a little bit” actually), and unions have been the most direct route to dignity and respect on the job for millions of women. But Kavanaugh, with his record of consistently siding with employers against the rights of workers, puts our rights in jeopardy.
Time after time, Kavanaugh’s opinions have demonstrated his vision of workplaces where women cannot enforce their rights against discrimination and where immigrants may not have any rights at all. While disparaging workplace health and safety regulations as “paternalistic,” he sees nothing paternalistic in allowing employers to assert their own personal religious beliefs to deny workers access to contraceptive coverage in their work health insurance plans, even if the employer is not required to pay for it.
And Kavanaugh even sided with a corporation that wanted to create a separate company simply to avoid its obligation to negotiate with a union over wages and working conditions.
But women see through this attempt to steamroll workers’ rights. In fact, a new poll shows that Kavanaugh has less public support than nearly every Supreme Court nominee for the past four administrations, with fewer than three in 10 women saying that he should be confirmed. Many women find his views too extreme, and only 35 percent say they are in the mainstream.
Stand up and speak out against Kavanaugh’s nomination. Our respect on the job is on the line – and Kavanaugh is going to find out what it means to us. In the timeless style of Aretha, I will spell out our response to his possible confirmation: N-O-W-A-Y.