Coalition of Labor Union Women

    • On behalf of the Coalition of Labor Union Women we would like to wish you and yours a very Safe and Happy 4th of July. 

      On June 28, 2015, the Metro DC Chapter of CLUW celebrated women’s leadership with their annual Gloria T. Johnson Awards Luncheon. Gloria T. Johnson served as president of CLUW from 1993 to 2004, and served as treasurer of CLUW for seventeen years prior to that. She was also elected vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1993. She has represented the American labor movement at conferences across the globe, focusing on concerns to women.

      This year, our very own Executive Director, Carol Rosenblatt (AFSCME) and Gwend Johnson (CWA) the Treasurer of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and a long time CLUW member were the recipients of the award. After the food was blessed and a song of praise was sung by AFSCME Local 2921 President Michael Flood, attendees enjoyed a buffet lunch.

      Congratulations to the recipients of the Gloria Johnson award, Gwend Johnson(left) and Carol Rosenblatt (right).

      Before the awards were given out, President Leak spoke about the importance of being an example, and bringing up young women to pass the baton to.  Carolyn Jacobson, Special Assistant to the President then spoke about CLUW’s Spread the Word Campaign, advocating for women’s heart health and awareness of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and handed out materials that could be used to ‘Spread the Word’.

      These prestigious awards were presented by the Metro DC Chapter President Donna Brockington. After a few words of thanks from the honorees, Elise Bryant (Labor Heritage Foundation) and Luci Murphy (DC Labor Chorus) lead the audience in songs about women’s strength and changing the world.

      Closing remarks from the Chapter President which left the room energized as she spoke about being an active part of CLUW and advocating for generations to come.

      Connie Leak, President; Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director and Judy Beard, Treasurer

      This week has been full of victories for us!

      "These case decisions are very important to CLUW. They are issues that CLUW has been involved in for a very long time. We are pleased to see all of our advocacy efforts yielding results on a large-scale level."  - CLUW President Connie Leak

      On June 23, 2015, in East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, the Fifth Circuit Court rules unanimously in favor of employees in faith based jobs seeking contraception through the Affordable Care Act. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act ensures that religious freedoms are protected. However, in this case, the religious employers cannot deny employees contraceptive rights through the Affordable Care Act because the RFRA does not entitle them to deny services from third parties.


      On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 vote, has decided to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has helped over 16 million uninsured people attain health insurance, of that 16 million 7.7 million are women, 2.3 million are African American, and 4.2 million are Latino. We are very pleased that they will be able to remain insured and be able to receive health care. With the uninsured rate being down in May 2015 to 13.2%, we still have work to do. 

      -24.3% of Latinos are still uninsured, that's nearly one in four. 

      -15.8% of African Americans are still uninsured. 

      -16.9% of all unmarried women are still uninsured, compared to married women's 11% uninsured rate.

      On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, affirmed the right for same sex couples to be married legally in all 50 states. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ community.

      “Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the equality, dignity and essential humanity of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and reaffirmed this country’s bedrock principle – engraved over the entrance to the Court itself – that all Americans are entitled to equal justice under law.” - Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States.

      The value of belonging to a union was clear to everyone attending the Greater New Jersey CLUW Chapter “Women’s Health, Safety and Financial Well-being” conference on May 30.  The 30+ participants at CWA Local 1040 headquarters in Trenton, listened attentively as opening presenter Cecelia Gilligan Leto (USW), (seated on left in photo) spoke about “Identifying and preventing hazards in the workplace & Intro to OSHA Presentation.” Her full-time job is project coordinator at the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC), where she works as an authorized OSHA trainer.  She also serves as CLUW chapter president and as a trustee and shop steward of her local.

      Participants learned that as important as it is to enact safety and health laws (which unions are often leading the fight for), it is equally important to know one’s workplace safety and health rights under the state and federal law.  And the best way to learn and assert those rights is through the union, she emphasized.

      CLUW National Executive Vice-President Dee Gorczyca (IFPTE) (standing 2nd from left in photo) spoke about the upcoming national CLUW convention and introduced CLUW Special Assistant to the President Carolyn Jacobson (standing far right in photo) who discussed CLUW’s women’s heart health campaign “Spread the Word”. 

      Julian Brunne (CWA) addressed “How Wall Street Fees Impact Our Communities.”

      To underscore the importance of blood pressure awareness and the relationship of an individual’s numbers to heart health, a nurse, Helene Townsend, (seated on right in photo) was there to take participants’ blood pressure.

      NJ CLUW State President Darlene Smith (AFT) (standing at left in photo) welcomed everyone to the conference and served as conference chair. NJ CLUW Treasurer Karen Bellamy Lewis (IFPTE) (standing third from left in photo) gave the wrap up, noting the practical value of the presentations and expressing her hope that each sister would take what they learned at the program and use it back in their respective workplace. (Also pictured: Michele Vickers (CWA) Chapter Vice Pres. standing 2nd from right).  More images are available in the photo gallery.

      CLUW activists across the country are reporting what they have been doing to ‘Spread the Word', the campaign that CLUW is co-sponsoring that focuses on raising women’s awareness of the symptoms of coronary artery disease and the testing options available.

      At STW San Francisco event, from the left are Maryann Medina (APWU) NEB member; Ann Luk (CardioDx); Vicki Sawicki (NALC) temporary chapter pres./National VP CLUW; Karen Wing (APWU) NEB member. 

      CLUW President Connie Leak, on behalf of the executive officers, expressed her appreciation for the work being done, saying, “We are grateful to each of you who has stepped forward to promote the campaign, as its success is totally dependent on you talking about it to your CLUW and union sisters, as well as in every union setting that you find yourself.  We literally have the ability to save lives!

      “Remember, there are excellent materials available here.  Each of them also is available in hard copy, printed with a union label and can be ordered from the CLUW office. The flier, which is particularly eye-catching, is great to put up on union bulletin boards.

      “We hope that those who have not reported in yet will let us know what you are doing and that this article will serve as a reminder to take action for those who have not taken action yet.

      “As its messages of awareness and testing options relate to all women, I urge you to also Spread the Word to women in your family and your friends. And tell us what you are doing so that we can thank you publicly and share what you are doing with other CLUW members.

      “You can also undertake individual actions; you can be a STW Champion.”  Check out some ideas here.

      Here is a partial list of CLUW STW activities we know about. If we missed you or your chapter or if you or your chapter are planning an event, please be in touch with the national CLUW office.

      2015 Summer Schools

      The 2015 Western Regional Institute for Union Women will take place on the Reed College campus in Portland, OR, from June 23-27. The Coordinator is Barbara Byrd, University of Oregon LERC. Download brochure here: 2015 Western SIUW brochure

      The 2015 Southern School for Working Women will take place in Miami, FL, July 9-12. It will be hosted by Florida Internaitonal University. The theme is "Know Your Rights: Working in a Globalized Environment". For information, contact Johanna or Danay, Center for Labor Research and Studies, FIU, email: phone: 305.348.2371. Download flyer here: 2015 Southern School Flyer

      The 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers will be held from Sunday July 19 through Thursday July 23, 2015 in Chicago, IL. The school will be hosted by the DePaul University Labor Education Center, and is being coordinated by Nora Kelley. Download the save the date flyer for the 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers here 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers Flyer.

      The 40th Northeast Summer School for Union Women will take place at Penn State University, University Park Campus, from Sunday, July 26 - Thursday, July 30. For more information, contact co-coordinators: Mary Bellman or Amy Dietz, The Labor School at Penn State, 814.865.5425, or , or Carla Insinga, AFSCME Council 13.

      Download brochure here: 2015 Northeast Womens Summer School Brochure.  You can also read more about it and register online here.

      On June 4th CLUW National Vice President (IAFF), Michele Newby, and Missouri CLUW State President, Chere Chaney (pictured below, left to right),were among Union Sisters and Brothers from all across Labor standing by Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, as he signed the VETO for ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council) so-called “Right to Work” legislation.  Nixon said “For generations, the ability of workers to join together and bargain collectively for fair wages and training has lifted the living standards of families everywhere both union and non-union”.     

      The Missouri House passed the bill by a 92-66 vote and the Senate vote was 21-13, It is anticipated that there will be an effort to garner enough votes to override the governor's veto in September. For more information about the bill please click here.

      Michele Newby expressed her feelings this way: "A great day for Missouri Unions!"

      Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, which is bankrolling the suit against the California Teachers Association et al. , Rikki Ward

      Attacks on public employee unions, especially teachers unions, have become a permanent feature of the political landscape. One glaring example is the lawsuit filed last month in federal court in Los Angeles against six California and national teachers unions. The lawsuit purports to defend the “free speech” rights of four California schoolteachers, but its real goal is to silence the collective voice of union members on political and educational issues. Read the entire article by clicking here.

      Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, which is bankrolling the suit against the California Teachers Association et al.
      - See more at:
      Participants Attended Workshops on Racism, Community Engagement and Paid Leave Campaigns and Reproductive Rights Battles in the States.

      About 100 CLUW delegates and observers met in Jacksonville, Florida to set CLUW’s agenda for the remainder of the year through committee meetings, workshops and plenary sessions from April 8-11th. Planning occurred around CLUW’s upcoming 18th Biennial Convention scheduled to take place in Sacramento, CA from November 18- 21st.  
      President Leak revved up the group by emphasizing in her report, “Remember, as we educate and encourage women to move into the seats at the table, that we are the decision makers! Our theme for the 2015 convention is: "Women: Right Time, Right Now!" This is the time to step out and step into our destiny!”

      NEB approves convention committee co-chairs

      We were pleased to be greeted by State President Patty White and Florida First Coast Chapter President Shirley Thomas.  In addition Russell Harper, President, North Florida Central Labor Council and Doris Orr-Richardson, President APWU, Florida State spoke to those assembled (see photo). Read more here.

      Earlier this month CLUW NEB delegates and observers heard a presentation by Carolyn Jacobson, Special Asst. to the CLUW Pres. on Spread the Word, an awareness campaign for women about coronary artery disease which kills more Americans than all cancers combined and is the #1 killer of women in the United States. NEB delegates endorsed the campaign already set in motion by the National Officers Council. Find the resolution here.

      From left – Helen Ramirez-Odell, Co-Chair Women’s Health and Wellness Committee, Tina Manning, Lydia Johnson, Chapter Pres. Stony Brook/L I/Suffolk County, Carolyn Jacobson, Ann Luk, Digital Marketing, CardioDx, and Shelvy Young Abrams, CLUW VP (AFT) with Spread the Word flyers.

      Also at the NEB in an effort to put CLUW’s healthy attitude in effect – CLUW walkers pictured below took to the streets and a certified personal trainer conducted indoor exercises for others.

      Today in Philly Labor

      “Mentorship is really important, however, you can’t necessarily expect that mentorship is going to magically appear in your life,” says Dina Yarmus (UNITE HERE), chair, Young Women’s Committee and executive committee member of Philadelphia CLUW. Dina made these observations as a guest on “Today in Philly Labor,” a radio talk show, on May 20.  Philadelphia CLUW has a monthly slot on the show.

      Carolyn Jacobson, special assistant to the president, at national CLUW, joined Dina by phone on this show. Carolyn is also secretary-treasurer of the Berger-Marks Foundation which offers free materials on mentoring. She noted that Dina’s words illustrate why the foundation created materials specifically focused on formal (also known an intentional) mentoring programs. 

      Carolyn underscored what Dina said about informal mentoring, noting that women and minorities often are not lucky enough to have access to a mentor. “Our materials allow unions – and labor groups, such as CLUW -- to create and implement formal mentoring programs – which are open to all members. Our materials provide everything that is needed for an accountable and sustainable program,” she said.

      Reflecting on her own experience, Dina explained that being in a mentoring relationship has allowed her to do more than “just complain or vent (which are important, she notes, but can be done with friends, family).”  The big difference, she points out, is that “my mentor (allows me to) reflect back and actually challenges me and helps me think through what needs to happen, what I have to think about, to understand and do better next time – almost like a coach of a sports team.  He or she holds me to a higher standard and thinks about what’s the big picture or what’s the next step…Mentorship is a skill.”

      CLUW, at its September 2014 National Executive Board meeting, adopted a resolution on mentoring, urging chapters to use the Berger-Marks materials to create these programs. 

      The Berger-Marks Foundation exists to bring the benefits of unionization to working women and to assist organizations committed to those principles.  Visit their site here for additional resources.

      To listen to the podcast click here.  Go to 1 hour, 13 minute mark for the beginning of this segment.

      On April 9th at the NEB meeting in Jacksonville, Florida three new charters were granted to the North East PA (NEPA), Rochester – Finger Lakes and Rhode Island (not pictured) chapters.  In addition the Greater Fresno Area Chapter was chartered at the previous NEB. Congratulations to all!!

      New NEPA President, Melissa Matoushek receives chapter charter from President Connie Leak and Treasurer Judy Beard
      Kendall Bell, new president of the Rochester - Finger Lakes Chapter with other chapter members receives charter
      Carey Wilson accepts charter for the Greater Fresno Area chapter

      Sisters and Brothers

      The Coalition of Labor Union Women is proud to join with more than 60 national organizations forming A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service.

      The United States Postal Service is a national treasure, serving more than 150 million households and businesses each day. It provides affordable mail service to everyone – rich and poor, no matter how remotely located they might be.

      But that tremendous service to our communities and crucial postal jobs are threatened by those who want to profit from this great public institution being dismantled.

      You can make a difference right now. Please sign the pledge to protect the public Postal Service. You’ll be part of the fight to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now and for many generations to come.

      Please take two minutes to watch this video starring actor-activist Danny Glover sharing his personal story about the importance of the Postal Service.

      Then share the video and the Grand Alliance statement on Facebook, Twitter, and with your personal email lists. Encourage your friends and associates to do the same, and know that you have made a difference to protect this beloved American institution.

      In solidarity,

      Connie Leak

  • July 04, 2015
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