Chicago Businesses Mark “A Day Without A Woman” With Strikes, Rallies

CHICAGO (CBS) — Women across the U.S. were staying home from work on Wednesday, as part of a national “Day Without A Woman” strike to mark International Women’s Day.

The strike was organized by a group that helped put together the National Women’s March in January.

The purpose is to send a message about the importance of women in the workplace. Women were being encouraged to skip work, if they can afford to, and show what the absence of women means to the economy.

The same group that organized the “Day Without Immigrants” rally last month also planned events throughout Chicago for the “Day Without A Woman” on Wednesday.

PACO Collective, a cross-cultural marketing agency with big name clients like ComEd and Blue Cross Blue Shield, was closed Wednesday as part of the strike. Women make up 73 percent of the company.

“For us, the agency couldn’t exist without women,” said PACO Collective co-founder and CEO Ozzie Godinez. “And it’s a real tangible sort of proof of the contributions that women make in particular to our business and our clients’ business.”

Many of the employees at PACO took time on Tuesday to write to lawmakers about the importance of equality for women in the workplace.

“I think the more women participate in this, the more we get heard, and the faster action will happen,” said PACO Collective employee Belinda Jones. “Action, equality for women, equal pay, equal promotions, equal for all women.”

Wednesday was not the first time PACO Collective has closed to support a cause. Last month it shut its doors for the “Day Without Immigrants” movement.

While many women chose to skip work, others mixed their day with activities to be inspired and inspire others.

Chicago-based technology incubator 1871 was celebrating “A Day Without A Woman” with activities all day at its Merchandise Mart headquarters. The events were aimed at inspiring women to be bold for change. They are free and open to the public.

Women make up 64 percent of the 1871 team.

Wednesday morning, a panel of women spoke about their accomplishments, and shared insights on their role and influence.

“Women are a growing presence in the corporate realm, and we need to make sure that we’re establishing ourselves as someone who’s really important and has a voice,” said Alexa Chavez.

Later in the day, 1871 was hosting workshops to help women start new businesses.

“Chicago is the best place in the world for women to start news businesses; and so we want to make sure that we are extremely supportive, and providing resources to any women who have great ideas and know what business they want to start,” said 1871 vice president of strategy Lakshmi Shenoy.

CTA employees joined in the “Day Without A Woman” protests, claiming their work conditions are not up to par. Workers rallied outside CTA headquarters in the West Loop, saying management isn’t listening to their concerns about recent assaults on bus operators and customer service assistants. They also said they’ve been forced to use Port-A-Potties on the job, and that their collective bargaining agreement with the CTA has expired.

In response, CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said the agency is committed to providing a safe and comfortable work environment for all its employees.

“As part of contract negotiations that have been ongoing for more than a year, CTA has already addressed some issues raised by the Union, including recent and future improvements to restroom facilities used by bus operators. We look forward to continuing our productive dialogue with the Union while working toward a contract that’s fair to workers and ensures CTA can continue to provide the best, most cost-effective service,” she said in an email.

At 7 p.m., local labor groups were holding a “Day Without A Woman” rally at the Chicago Teachers Union hall.

Watch & Listen LIVE