Coalition of Labor Union Women

    • CLUW Pres. Elise Bryant mobilizes the rally crowd 

      On Saturday, June 30th, over 600 different #FamiliesBelongTogether events occurred throughout the United States in a mass day of action against family separation at the border and Trump’s “Zero-Tolerance” immigration policy. CLUW members participated in cities around the country and in the nation’s capital where President Elise Bryant spoke at a labor rally before the main #FamiliesBelongTogether event.

      The labor rally was organized by the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA), composed of the constituency groups of the AFL-CIO, and held in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters.

      Along with CLUW President Elise Bryant, speakers at the labor rally included: Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA, Robin Williams, International Vice President of UFCW, Liz Powell, Secretary Treasurer of APWU (also representing CBTU), Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride At Work, Sookyung Oh, DC Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium and APALA representative, Ana Marie Argilagos, President of Hispanics in Philanthropy, and Sara Nelson, President of AFA-CWA). Hector Sanchez , Executive Director of LCLAA served as emcee. President of APWU, Mark Dimondstein, was also in attendance to support.  

      Other attendees included union members, activists, working families, and those who earlier in the morning attended a Shabbat (Sabbath) gathering held at the AFL-CIO by Jews United for Justice.

      Watch a recap video of the Labor Rally here. And click here to hear a short statement by President Elise Bryant about the march.  Read more here.

      Kim Cook Bell (r) chapter pres. St. Louis CLUW with UAW sisters at Troy, MO rally

      r-l Carol Rosenblatt and Tiana Outram from national CLUW office and LCLAA sister in front of AFL-CIO

      Elise Bryant holds charter with Brenda Savoy (Chesapeake Bay pres.) with chapter members, l. –r.: Rhonda Rogers (CLUW VP IAM), MD State Officers, Sherry McKnight and Chaé Carriere and far r. Tanya Hutchins (chapter treasurer).

      The Chesapeake Bay (MD) chapter, received its charter at the National Executive Board meeting on May 3rd held at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD.  NEB members voted to approve standing committee co-chairs and 15 committees met to map out a plan of work.  One of those committees, Women’s Health and Wellness, developed the following cancer prevention notice:

      Prevent Cancer With HPV Vaccine

      The CLUW Women’s Health and Wellness Committee is concerned that vaccination rates for HPV (human papilloma virus) are lower than they should be in the U.S.  Many strains of HPV cause infection and those that don’t go away can cause cancer in both women and men.  Prevention of cervical cancer and other cancers caused by HPV was a major project of CLUW sister Carolyn Jacobson. The vaccine is recommended at age 11 or 12. Only two doses of HPV vaccine are needed when given six to twelve months apart before age 15. The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer in women, and also anal, throat and other cancers as well as genital warts in males and females.  The Women’s Health and Wellness Committee urges all CLUW members to talk with their chapter, family and community members to encourage them to have their children immunized so they won’t get preventable cancers.

      For more information please visit:

      Centers for Disease Control: Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

      Healthy Women: How Many People Have HPV?

      Honorees holding awards surrounded by CLUW National Officers (individual photos of award recipients can be found later in article).  Thank you to Carlos H. San Miguel, Jr. (IAM) for providing the photos for this story.

      After several days of participating in the SNAP (Sisters Not Afraid of Power) conference, CLUW continued the enthusiasm on May 4th by recognizing seven outstanding women in a standing room only crowd at the AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington, DC. President Elise Bryant led the group in song “Welcome Union Members…we are in your presence, hand in hand together, we make the union strong.” She turned the program over to emcee Karen Bellamy Lewis (National CLUW Vice President, IFPTE) who accepted the Friend of Labor Award for her Congresswoman, Hon. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (NJ -12) who was unable to be present but sent greetings which can be viewed here.

      All of the honorees were given the opportunity to speak briefly; what follows are some of their thoughts and how they were inspired.

      Dora Cervantes, the first female and Latina General Secretary-Treasurer of IAM was the recipient of the Olga Madar Leadership Award and acknowledged that in spite of her first impression of unions being not welcoming for women she became a union member and has been a Machinist for over 29 years. She shared that, “For more than half of my life I’ve been fighting for workers’ rights and women’s issues. I became involved because I wanted to make a difference in our workplace and in our union.”

      Elissa McBride, Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME received the Trailblazer Award and she described women as trailblazers this way:” We blaze trails together… we know that is how we build power; we believe in reaching a destination on the trail…women walk trails with stamina – the more difficult, longer and arduous the race the better chance women have to beat men.”  Read more here.

      CLUW encourages you to take advantage of the UALE Summer Schools that are a wonderful opportunity for education, empowerment and sisterly solidarity. For more information and to register click here.

      l-r; Elise Bryant, Denisha Dean, Lalli Castillo, Lynn Marie Smith, Aurora Bihler. Natasha Isma (rear)

      On a bright, sunny May 4th CLUW members and friends rallied outside the AFL-CIO Building in downtown Washington, DC as young sisters told their stories, chanted and called for real change, real soon!  President Bryant made it clear that, ”We are 51% of the population and we will be 51% of union leadership and ……our place is in the White House.” Recognizing the next generation as the future of labor, Denisha Dean, 28 years old, an APWU local president and CLUW Los Angeles Chapter member came to the podium with the chant of  “ Join Us For The Long Run, The Union Is For Everyone”.  She described her experience of winning the presidency of her local by 13% in spite of having her motherhood, skin color and age questioned.  But she realized, ”This is my time, why not me, why not here?!”

      Aurora Bihler of the Iron Workers in St. Louis, MO recounted what a woman has to face in non-traditional jobs including ill fitting gloves and a wrong sized safety harness.  She said that, “Women in the building trades deserve to have a safe pregnancy  … and “if the Iron Workers can do it your union can too.”

      Lalli Castillo, IBEW, “ a young worker, an electrician, a mother, proud union member, dreamer and activist” described how “being a union member, having equal pay makes me realize what I have, but also what others' don’t have… I want all women to get paid dollar for dollar..”

      Natasha Isma, AFSCME DC 37, New York City, reminded the crowd that, “It’s important that your unions are supporting younger workers…Young people are not to be excluded from the labor movement because this is our time  ….we need to step up to the plate because we are ready to lead.”

      Jaida Jenkins Curtis, 20 year old Asst. to the CLUW President, next performed a special hip hop dance to Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless” for its empowerment and uplifting message.

      Lynn Marie Smith (AMU,) Motown Diva ended the rally by leading the crowd in an enthusiastic union rendition of Uptown Funk.

      The full rally can be seen and heard on CLUW's Face book page (thanks to Tanya Hutchins (IAM) video).

      MCs: Rachel Walthall (CLUW VP, APWU) and Rachel Bryan (CLUW VP, IBEW)

      Denisha Dean with crowd

      Jaida Curtis

      It is with a heavy heart that we notify you of the death of Carolyn Jacobson after a 2 year valiant battle with endometrial cancer.

      Elise Bryant, CLUW’s President describes Carolyn this way, ”Activist, unionist, educator and hell raiser, we give thanks for the spirit, intelligence and passion Carolyn brought to everything she put her hand to. Like our foremothers Mother Jones, Olga Madar and Sojourner Truth, Her spirit marches on!”

      After graduation in 1972 from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations Carolyn served as an intern at the AFL-CIO in publications and public relations and then worked for 28 years as the director of public relations for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Miller International Union (BCTGM).  During that time she was the union’s representative to CLUW, coordinated union women, participated in women’s activities and formed a women’s committee.

      She obtained a Masters of Science degree (Communications) in 1979 from American University.

      Carolyn was committed to CLUW from the beginning as a founding member, having attended the first conference in Chicago 44 years ago this month. She served as a project consultant and special assistant to the CLUW President for 15 years.

      After retiring from BCTGM in 2001 she created and directed CLUW’s Contraceptive Equity Project to make sure that unions knew they had a right to demand contraceptive coverage in their health plans if the plan covered other preventive drugs and devices. When it shut its doors in early 2004, the project had succeeded in assisting millions of union families secure contraceptive equity in their health plans. CLUW continued to urge union women to check to see if their plans covered contraception… and if the plan didn’t, CLUW asked them to urge their respective union to pursue the issue… reminding them that “the union can threaten the employer with a law suit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”  Read more here.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women

      In celebration of Women’s History Month CLUW, with co-sponsors of the Labor Heritage Foundation and the AFL-CIO Office of the Secretary-Treasurer, was proud to sponsor a performance of activist and song-writer Bev Grant’s (AFM) inspiring project “We Were There” at the AFL-CIO National Headquarters on March 19th.

      “We Were There!” is a multi-media women's labor history project which features voices, songs and projected images depicting our sisters' struggles to fight for their rights and justice for their communities. CLUW President and Labor Heritage Foundation Executive Director Elise Bryant coordinated the local production that you can see by watching the video snippet above as Bev Grant and the performers joined together for the closing song. To hear a full rendition of the title song, performed by Bev Grant with the Brooklyn Women's Chorus, click here.

      The hour long program allowed local leaders, including CLUW members Carolyn J. Williams, Connie Cordovilla, Huayra Forster, Tanya Hutchins, Tsika Pasipanodya and AFL-CIO Secretary - Treasurer Liz Shuler among others, to represent historical characters as a tribute and acknowledgment of their work and on-going legacy. See the program for the full list of participants and the extraordinary women they were portraying.

      From abolitionist Sojourner Truth, to farmworkers rights activist Dolores Huerta, and with a special addition of CLUW’s founding president Olga Madar, the project successfully brought the voices of women’s past to the forefront with a powerful musical and visual touch that was truly unique and memorable.

      To learn more about this program visit Bev Grant’s Website here.

      "Liz Schuler performing her role as Olga Madar, the first president of CLUW"

      "Carolyn J. Williams plays abolitionist and teacher Charlotte Forten"

  • July 16, 2018
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