The union debate sweeping the country has got one conservative Republican in a moral bind. Back when she was Wyoming state treasurer, Rep. Cynthia Lummis conducted a study of women in the workforce. What she found clashed with what she believed: Unions helped to close the pay gap between men and women.
"That's a bitter pill" for a "very conservative Republican, who is still a very conservative Republican," Lummis told Whispers at the annual Women's Policy Inc. Congressional Gala in Washington D.C. And it's even more bitter since she comes from a right to work state.
"I really do in my heart believe that businesses will treat people equally, but the facts don't bear that out," said Lummis, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. "And I just hate it when the facts don't bear out for what my head and my heart want to believe. But in fact it did. So in my opinion, there's just definitely a role for unions and I think it's a different role than a lot of people think."
Her research proved the results true among college educators where she found a huge pay gap between male and female professors who are not represented by unions.
"It's not what I wanted to learn," she says. "But it's what I did learn. I tend to think that there's a role for unions when it comes especially to equal pay for equal work."
Her lesson: "I'm not as critical of unions as I was before."