Coalition of Labor Union Women
    • At the end of Oct., the AFL-CIO released the 2015 National Survey of Working Women to capture a multifaceted picture of the lives of working women across the country, both union and nonunion.
      The survey, developed under the guidance of the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Working Women (on which CLUW President Connie Leak serves) is asking women about their economic interests, family and work life, along with their experiences balancing their responsibilities.
      “Today, with the economy in slow recovery, a new wave of attacks on collective bargaining and a presidential election on the horizon, working women’s voices are more important than ever,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Chair of the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee at the event announcing the launch of the survey.  

      "As a labor movement, our approach always begins with worker voice," Shuler said. "Millions of us will come together this year and bargain for a better life."

      "But I understand that unions are not available for everyone," Shuler said, so the new AFL-CIO program for working women will include training women who do not have a union to conduct "good old fashioned negotiating."

      Shuler said, "Women in the workplace have gained a great deal: laws to protect women's rights, new freedoms, and career opportunities that were once thought unimaginable. ... But discrimination still exists."

      Her entire speech can be found here.

      She announced that to help "galvanize the power of women," the AFL-CIO is launching "a comprehensive survey about the lives of working women. This survey will take the pulse of working women inside and outside the labor movement. It will be a baseline measure of working women's lives."
      The survey runs until December 4, 2015, and results will be available in March 2016 during Women’s History Month.
      A special CLUW survey link has been created and all CLUW members are encouraged to participate. The survey can be accessed online here.

      The life of a union woman is a busy one. They’re often so busy that their own health and wellness can be ignored. This is not okay, and CLUW wants to help change this. 

      In an effort to bring union women’s health to the spotlight, CLUW partnered with HealthyWomen (HW), a leading online resource for women’s health, to create a women’s health-focused survey. It was live during the month of September. Through this survey, CLUW and HW were able to gain insights into what union women need to and want to know about their health.

      Of the 2035 people who took the survey, 63 percent selected diet/nutrition as what they search for most online. Fitness/exercise and aging well were also among the top selections. According to our survey, most people search for health information—preferably articles or news—in the evening hours or via their preferred social network, Facebook.

      This information is crucial in implementing a health resource on CLUW’s website. Here is what you can expect each month on the CLUW site, thanks to HealthyWomen:

      - Health headlines;
      - Recipes;
      - Fitness motivation
      - Aging well tips

      Since many of the survey participants were also active on Facebook, CLUW will be posting the health content monthly on our Facebook page and will offer a free signup to HealthyWomen’s weekly newsletters.

      Additional survey findings will be presented at the CLUW Convention in November, where CLUW will announce the winners of two $100 gift cards for those who completed the survey. 

      “I am delighted to report that the survey response rate was double the number anticipated,” said CLUW President Connie Leak.  

      “CLUW truly believes that empowering union women means making sure they have the health information for themselves and their families that they need and want. The outstanding response to the survey makes it clear that we have hit on a topic of particular importance to union women. Many thanks to everyone who answered the survey, as well as to everyone who got it out in the labor movement."

      Survey responses came from union women in 36 different states in more than 45 different unions. A total of 566 CLUW members completed the survey.

      Thanks to scholarships provided by the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), four (4) members of CLUW were able to participate in the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) Women’s Summer Schools.  Each sister took part in workshops ranging in topics from communication skills, organizing skills, safety and health, public speaking, and steps for moving up in leadership, to name a few.  The goal of these workshops is to develop new activists who will lead and transform the labor movement.  Extracurricular activities provided the participants with opportunities to network and learn more about labor history through art and culture.

      Reports came in from scholarship recipients expressing gratitude for the opportunity, and they shared their positive experiences. Each award recipient got the chance to speak before the attendees at their respective school about CLUW.

      “Looking at over 100 beautiful faces from all over the Northeast, I spoke with my sisters on how I came to be at the podium,” said Liz Moran, who attended the Northeast Summer School. She continued, “I spoke of the challenges that I faced as a young Hispanic leader in a workplace dominated by white men. I educated labor women on how CLUW is a primary tool for me as a rising leader in the labor movement.”

      Lisa Alexander, who was also a part of the Northeast Summer School, shared her experience, stating, “The atmosphere was one of such that bonded me from the beginning with women from all over the North East region… The class on Public Speaking was truly enlightening.  It enhanced my ability to stand in front of a crowd and express my topic with conviction.  We critiqued our own speeches as well as our classmates.  With the knowledge and tools provided I know that I can do this.”

      Sheila D. Heard, who attended the Midwest Summer School, wrote:

      “The main focus for me was, it doesn’t matter where you come from we have one common dominator...the struggle for justice and equality. The experience I had was priceless. ...[I received] a lot of information that I could share with my locals about communication, the Federal and Medical Leave Act, and how to be a better organizer. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity."

      Shelia Heard (APWU) front row left in orange.

      Tasha West-Baker of the Western Regional Institute for Women even touched on the impact that CLUW had on other women in attendance. “During my Bargaining to Win and Running for Office classes, I was asked by our Canadian sisters if they could get a chapter in Canada. Also many women in outlying areas wanted to know how to get a chapter.” 

      Tasha West-Baker (UFCW) front row left in blue with her
      "Running for Office" classmates


      Liz Moran, Lisa Alexander, Tasha West-Baker, and Sheila Heard are but a few of the women who took away something from these workshops. To Lisa Alexander, the purpose of the summer schools was clear: “Because of the faith, solidarity and sisterhood of CLUW, I attended my first UALE Summer School for Union Women. CLUW made it possible for me to grow, learn and empower other sisters to move forward and help others to grow."

      Liz Moran (AFSCME) Lisa Alexander (AFSCME)

      On September 22nd, thousands of organizations supported National Voter Registration Day by holding events across the country. National Voter Registration Day,  celebrated on the fourth Tuesday in September every year, is aimed at raising awareness for voter registration, and encouraging every American to be registered to vote in time for the next election. The goal is to reach hundreds of thousands of new voters who wouldn’t have voted otherwise. Over 600 voter registration events took place nationwide this year.

      CLUW members took to the streets to register voters. Sarah Reynolds, CLUW Vice President (American Transit Union (ATU)), along with Francine Bidgell and her local chapter members, set up a booth outside of Naylord Road Shopping Center in Southeast Washington, DC. The booth also included CLUW pamphlets, informational brochures, buttons, bags, and other paraphernalia. “The area was made up of a lot of people not registered, but they were very receptive and glad that we came,” Sarah remarked. Not only was the event successful, but some people even showed an interest in CLUW.

      Standing L to R: Francine Bidgell and Sarah Reynolds with a newly registered voter.

      At the Westside Farmer’s Market in Rochester, NY, a voter registration table was set up and managed by President Kendall Bell and Treasurer Evelyn Evans of the Rochester Finger-Lakes CLUW Chapter, both from the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers – Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA).

      Thank you to everyone that went out and supported the campaign. If you are a CLUW member who participated in a National Voter Registration Day event, please send documentation of the event –photos, the names and location of those who participated, and a short description of what occurred - to Carol Rosenblatt at We would love to highlight you as well!

      2015 National Voter Registration Press Release

      On a bright sunny morning on September 16, 2015, over 50 civil rights, community, labor and religious organizations including CLUW came together for Voters Rights at the America’s Journey for Justice Legislative Advocacy Day Rally at Senate Park in Washington, DC. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sponsored the rally, giving thanks to all of those that came to show support. With them were the marchers of America’s Journey for Justice, a 1,002 mile journey from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC. Marchers moved through the country, to find out what   problems communities are facing and to bring them to DC where decisions are made. The goal of the rally was to urge Congress to pass The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015.
      The keynote speaker, NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, gave an emotionally-charged speech, acknowledging those that participated in or completed America’s Journey for Justice and calling out Congress, asking, “If you’re asking for our vote, why can’t you commit to protect the right?”

      Several Senators and House Representatives addressed those assembled, including Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative Terri Sewell, and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, all speaking in favor of the bill and asking other members of Congress to step up and support.

      The AFL-CIO, CWA and AFT (AFT President and CLUW member Randi Weingarten is pictured at the podium) also conveyed their support.

      When the rally concluded those who wished to, marched to the Senate with petitions.

      In honor of Labor Day, Union Plus President Leslie Tolf reached out to prominent women in the labor force, discussing the importance of Labor Day and what it means to them, as well as their thoughts on the future movement. With her in this discussion were these women labor leaders:

      ♦Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

      ♦Cindy Estrada, Vice President, UAW

      ♦Karen Nussbaum, Executive Director, Working America

      ♦Rachel Bryan, Community Liaison, IBEW Local 595

      Questions included: “Why is Labor Day still important?” “What is the most important thing in 2015 for workers’ rights for women?” and “Do you think that the labor movement and all of its principles are adequately represented and discussed in today’s media and popular culture?”

      “We need to take away that myth that labor was needed during the ‘bad old days’ and not needed today. Labor is still vital today. It's important to have time off to take care of your family and to have safety in the workplace -- all those same issues that my grandmother had. ... I'm a product of the labor movement -- my father, uncle and grandmother, a single mother who was able to raise her family and provide because of her union status. I believe that we cannot have free society without the ability to bargain. With a CEO to worker pay ratio of 300:1--the world should have the ability to bargain," stated Cindy Estrada.

      Liz Shuler added, “If you think about all the work that goes into every aspect of your day -- whether it's the cashier at the bakery, the barista at the coffee shop; […] the security officer at the front desk who makes your building safe; or the power lineman delivering electricity to your home -- their work makes our work possible. Take the time to consciously say ‘thank you’ to those people....
      Raising women's wages not only helps women and families, but helps our entire economy. There are a lot of campaigns happening right now focused on raising wages in industries that are dominated by women who are the majority of low wage workers. Campaigns like Fight for $15, OUR Walmart, homecare workers. Their fight to organize and countless others will help raise wages for working women and provide them with a better quality of life."

      They all agreed that the most important thing in 2015 for workers’ rights for women was equal pay and collective bargaining power.

      Karen Nussbaum’s call-to-action for the millennials in the workforce was to “band together, take the moral high ground and fight for [your] future in organizations [you] control through [your] dues and [your] vote.”

      Rachel Bryan touched on the “sharing economy” and its effect on the labor movement:

      “The Sharing Economy is a misnomer like Right-to-Work, which is the right to get paid less. Yes, it creates greater access to goods and service but at what cost? […] Does the Uber driver have health insurance? Are they making a living wage?”

      Rachel further elaborated, explaining, “Cheap labor and goods creates wealth for the tech companies and does little to nothing for their temporary, low-wage workers. This impacts the labor movement because we already do many of the jobs that the "sharing economy" is watering down. But, we do these jobs at a living wage and with integrity so that our families can live and thrive.”

      You can read Leslie Tolf’s full article at the HuffingtonPost by clicking here.

      July 30th, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Since 1965, Medicare has provided seniors with affordable high-quality healthcare. It’s a nod to those who have spent their lifetime helping progress the nation, and gives assurance to those retirees that they won’t have to worry about expensive medical bills or getting the care they need.

      Honoring Medicare with a National Day of Action, CLUW members took part in celebrations across the country, with the theme “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.” The celebration called for protecting Medicare from policymakers who threatened to cut funding, improving Medicare by including dental plans and certain prescriptions, thus making it more affordable, and expanding Medicare coverage to those of all ages with no exceptions, advocating the passage of national single payer legislation, H.R.676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. The H.R.676 Bill would provide free universal healthcare for all U.S. citizens inclusive of costs related to medical care.

      In DC, Judy Beard, APWU Retirees Director and CLUW Treasurer, spoke to a crowd at the 50 Medicare rally in front of the US Capitol, stating, “Today’s 50th anniversary of Medicare is not just a moment, it is a movement. We need to protect, improve and expand Medicare.”

      Judy Beard (APWU) speaks at a Medicare rally in DC.

      In Detroit, members from the Metro-Detroit Chapter spent the whole day celebrating: lobbying legislators about H.R.676, hosting a rally at the Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, and concluding with a celebratory program at UAW Local 600.

      CLUW members Tijuana Morris (DPOA), Metro-Detroit CLUW Executive Committee, Millie Hall (OPEIU), President of Metro-Detroit CLUW, and Sara Wallenfang, Communications Director of Michigan Nurses Association promoting the 50th Anniversary of Medicare events at a retiree meeting at UAW Local 22.

      AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also made a statement which you can read here.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women

      “As part of its commitment to empower union women, CLUW provides its members with health information.  To assist us in tailoring that information, we created a short survey with one of our Spread the Word campaign partners, HealthyWomen,“ announces CLUW President Connie Leak.

      President Leak explains the survey results will allow HealthyWomen to work with CLUW to provide CLUW members with the health information they want on a regular basis, delivered via the communication format/s they prefer.

      The short survey (which is going out via “Survey Monkey”) is called Getting to Know You and Your Health Needs: Audience Survey for Women.  You can access it here.

      HealthyWomen will work with CLUW to compile the aggregate survey results and implement an action plan, which will be presented at the CLUW Convention in November.

      As an incentive to fill out the survey, HealthyWomen will be holding a drawing for a $100 gift card that every woman completing the survey can enter to win.

      President Leak adds “ Many thanks for answering the survey, which will take no more than five minutes.  We hope that all CLUW Sisters will take the survey and that each of you will also bring it to the attention of union women who are not yet CLUW members and ask them to respond.  CLUW wants all U.S. union women to know about CLUW and that we are interested in what they have to tell us.”

  • November 30, 2015
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