Feminist leaders successfully convinced California unions this week to take a stand against an anti-choice measure that will be on the California ballot this November. If passed, Proposition 85 would amend the California state constitution to prohibit abortions for young women under the age of 18 – unless a physician notifies her parent or guardian in writing or she obtains a court order to waive the required notification. A similar measure, Prop. 73, was defeated by voters last year in a Special Election.
A feminist presence at the California Labor Federation’s 2006 Biennial Convention aided in the AFL-CIO Executive Council reversing its original “no recommendation” stance on Proposition 85 to a solid “vote no” for the November ballot. “It’s very rare for the executive council to reverse its decision,” said Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) board member. “Labor is very top-down; workers usually do what their leaders tell them to do. We had some of the big unions on our side, but we needed a two-thirds vote … This is a smashing victory for the feminist movement.”
Feminist Majority Foundation interns joined Huerta and members of the Dolores Huerta Foundation to hand out literature on the dangers of Proposition 85 to union delegates prior to the vote. “I cannot tell you what an impact we made,” Huerta said. “These young women were here with their feminist shirts on and they really put a face on what we’re fighting for.”
The Executive Council’s decision to recommend no on Prop. 85 was met with applause and relief, rising to a crescendo of union members chanting “Si se puede!” “I had three women come up to me after the vote, teary-eyed, and thanked us for being there,” said Amanda Luterman, a FMF intern. “You could feel the energy and a willingness to speak out. Not just women, but men were speaking out for their daughters, and unions who don’t usually see a correlation between their work and young women’s lives were standing up for the women in their unions.”