WASHINGTON: A number of women's advocacy groups have banded
together to prevent the Bush administration from eliminating regional
offices of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau, a move allegedly being
considered by the Office of Management and Budget.
Secretary of labor Elaine Chao is the focal point of the campaign. The
strategy is to apply pressure to Chao not just from the groups
themselves, but through members of Congress and the public.
Five main groups - Women Employed, Wider Opportunities for Women, the
American Association of University Women, the National Women's Law
Center, and the National Partnership for Women & Families - are
spearheading the drive, sending letters to Congress and imploring the
media to pay attention to the topic. They also sent a joint letter to
Chao recently, imploring her to reverse the administration's "disturbing
pattern of slighting women's concerns."
Last year, the Bush administration eliminated the Labor Department's
"Equal Pay Matters" initiative, and the White House Office for Women's
Initiative and Outreach.
The campaign has already met with what it considers a major success.
Rep. Rosa De-Lauro (D-CT), message chief for the Democratic party, sent
a letter signed by 69 House members to Chao earlier this month,
regarding the issue. DeLauro credited the women's groups for encouraging
her to speak up.
Melissa Joseph, senior policy associate at Women Employed, said that her
group has received no feedback from Chao or her department. A statement
released by Chao's spokeswoman, Sue Hensley, stated that "the secretary
is very much committed to the Women's Bureau."
Created in 1920, the bureau offers assistance to women in such areas as
sexual harassment and child care.