How Black Women Nearing Retirement Age Are Saving The Service Industry

union of southern service workers
Via Union of Southern Service Workers
Tremain Prioleau II
February 15, 2023

Older Black service workers are in trouble. Black women make up the largest percentage of the service industry’s workforce and thirty-two percent of them age 55 and over are a part of the working poor. How did it get like this?

Wages in the industry have stagnated for almost a decade. There’s been no increase in wages in years, even as many of these workers worked through the dangerous conditions of the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers are getting just over $12 an hour, barely enough to live in this nation. But it’s especially bad in the south.

In the 1940’s, Southern states enacted right-to-work laws making it illegal for union membership to be a condition of being hired. Because of this, union membership in southern states are typically low. Now, that’s changing.

Black women are fighting back. Demands include higher wages, health care, affordable housing, and much more. Many of the Black women leading are in their 60’s and are still pushing for the next generation to have better.

Black women are almost always at the forefront of American social movements, and this one is no different. Even in their older years, when they should be able to enjoy life, Black women are fighting for our economic liberation.

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