Coalition of Labor Union Women
    • Thank you to CLUW VP Diane Babineaux, IAM and Tanya Hutchins who produced this video.

      On March 16th in spite of Storm Stella 65 dedicated CLUW members from throughout the country participated in a Capitol Hill Lobby Day visiting with US Representatives, Senators and Legislative Staff to let them know what was needed for working women and families.  A busload left the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD (where the NEB meeting was scheduled the following day) and greeted local members at the Briefing Session (Lobby Day Flier) which took place at the Capitol Visitor Center. The timing could not be better since the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (the GOP’s American Health Care Act) had been introduced on March 6th and hearings in the Senate on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice were set to begin on March 20th.

      CLUW President Connie Leak welcomed the group encouraging them to continue to “fight for women’s issues.”

      Janet Hill, National VP (USW) provided an overview of how much is at stake.

      The Healthy Families Act was just introduced the day before by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D CT) in the House and Sen. Patty Murray (D WA) in the Senate. Rachel Lyons, Sr. Gov’t Affairs Mgr., National Partnership for Women & Families described this short term paid sick leave bill acknowledging that at least 41 million private sector workers in the United States cannot earn a single paid sick day. An estimated 22 million women are affected. Find more information in the CLUW fact sheet here.

      Sarah Christopherson, Policy Advocacy Dir., National Women’s Health Network reviewed the GOP’s American Health Care Act that will cause 24 million people to lose health insurance at the same time that it provides an average tax cut of $7 million for the 400 richest families in America. Also women would no longer be able to use this insurance at the highly qualified provider of their choice if that provider is Planned Parenthood, which would be barred from receiving federal funds. Planned Parenthood is often the only provider in rural and other underserved areas. More information can be found here.

      CLUW members were galvanized to let their legislators know of their opposition to the “Right to Work” Bill. Cecelie Counts, Legislative Representative, Government Affairs, AFL-CIO reviewed the impact of similar bills in the states where there are lower wages and income, lower rates of health insurance coverage, higher rates of infant mortality and poverty, less investment in education and higher workplace fatalities.  See fact sheet here.  Read more here.

      So many CLUW members are highly accomplished in their union careers. We believe that how they got there, as well as lessons they learned along the way can provide valuable information for union women coming behind them – no matter what their union is. Hence, this column – the first of an ongoing series of interviews with our members. We hope you find this column interesting and informative and we hope that you not only let us know what you think about it by writing to us at: – but that you also provide us with suggestions for a future interview, including details of why that person is deserving to be featured.

      Eileen Macdonald is a Local One IATSE stagehand and works on Broadway as a sound engineer in the historically male-dominated field of show business. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Theater and spent many years touring Broadway shows.

      In 2011, Eileen founded the Local One Sisters Committee, whose mission is to mentor members, encourage union involvement, and support women coping with the challenges of a non-traditional job. This committee has given women stagehands a voice in the local and has encouraged women in other locals to form committees.

      After attending the Northeast Union Women's Summer School, Eileen was inspired to return to college.  She completed a Certificate in Labor Relations from the School of Professional Studies/CUNY.

      Last year Eileen was appointed the first woman to represent Local One on the NYC Central Labor Council. In May 2016, she was elected to the Local One Executive Board as a Trustee. Only one other woman has served on the Executive Board in the Local's 130-year history and that was over thirty years ago.  Read more here.

      Eileen Macdonald, IATSE

      Chicago mentoring circle participants

      Chicago, IL – CLUW Chicago Chapter President Katie Jordan learned about “mentoring circles” at CLUW’s National Executive Board Spring education conference. What particularly intrigued her was that in addition to providing valuable information, mentoring circles can be an effective tool to pull in members, as well as attract new ones.

      Katie went to work soon after she returned home to create a chapter mentoring circle event – which took place on the evening of Nov. 10th.

      The subject of the first circle was “What Works for Women at Work.” It began with all 25 participants viewing an 11-minute video produced by Stanford University’s Clayman Institute that identifies patterns of gender bias and teaches strategies to overcome them and succeed at work.  The group then broke into four “circles” to discuss the video.  A chapter member led each circle – using a Discussion Guide that was specially created for the topic. 

      To prepare circle leaders to facilitate the circles, Katie followed through on the Federal Mediation and Conciliation offer at the Spring meeting, that was to match CLUW chapters wanting to undertake mentoring circles with an FMCS staff person in their respective area  -- to teach circle leaders facilitation skills prior to the first circle event. FMCS Commissioner Rosa Tiscareno did just that in Chicago.

      Participants at the Nov. 10 event ate and socialized before and after the program.  They liked it so much that they are ‎planning the second mentoring circle event early in the New Year.

      Participants noted that mentoring circles would be worthwhile for other CLUW chapters, local union women’s committees, churches, youth groups and chapters of other constituency groups.

      Jeanne Cameron (Il Alliance for Retied Americans) observed, "This would be useful for IL ARA inter-generational work.”

      A few days after the event, a workshop based on the Chicago experience, was held at the CLUW Women's Leadership Skills Conference in Las Vegas.  Responses there were also enthusiastic, including the following comments:

      "Excellent workshop. Content was informative and inspirational; liked presentation and passion of presenters. Great job."  Bob Wilkerson, IFPTE

      "AFSCME International's Women's Leadership Academy has a formal mentoring program; AFSCME 13 is in the process of developing a professional mentoring program for staff and it is offering a ‘How to develop a local mentoring women's committee’ at its 2017 statewide women's conference.” Carla Insinga, AFSCME DC13, CLUW National VP

      Special note: Carolyn Jacobson,, 202.508.6901, has prepared a packet of materials for chapters (or individual members) wanting to start a mentoring circle. It includes a template flier, a draft cover memo to send with the flier to the CLC, FMCS contact information, an overview of mentoring circles, a check-list to prepare for the event and additional resources. Contact her if you want to receive this packet.

      l-r: LizMcElroy, Connie Leak, Terry O'Neill, Rachel Lyons and Judy Beard

      CLUW’s Conference: ” Where Do We Go From Here: The Path Continues” had been in formation for months but who knew what to expect after the recent election results? We were thrilled when 225 conference attendees and subject matter experts arrived in Las Vegas for 3 days (November 14-16) of empowerment, hands on education, skills building, election analysis, grappling with issues confronting women and making plans for the future. 

      The opening plenary started with a welcome from President Connie Leak followed by a warm greeting from Rusty McAllister, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO who informed us that there were about 525 full time staff in Nevada from labor and about ½ million doors were knocked to get out the vote. To address the “2016 Elections and Mobilizing for the Future” we heard from a trio who are well versed in the issues of labor and working women: Liz McElroy, Deputy Political Department Director, AFL-CIO; Rachel Lyons, Sr. Government Affairs Mgr., National Partnership for Women & Families and Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women. Liz confirmed that while union members voted for Hillary it was not in the numbers that were needed.  Clinton received 8 1/2 million less votes than Obama and ‘we underestimated the role that sexism played in the election’. However, there were successes in the Senate: Kamala Harris-CA, Tammy Duckworth- IL, Maggie Hassan, NH and Catherine Cortez Masto- NV.  Rachel continued by acknowledging that the momentum for issue based work for working families: equal pay, paid family leave and combatting pregnancy discrimination remain strong and our stalwarts: Representatives DeLauro and Pelosi and Senator Gillibrand will be there to take up the torch. She went on to say that we have made progress on paid leave in the states and will continue to battle in that arena. Terry took the podium and expressed her apologies for the 53% of white women that voted for Trump but congratulated the 94% of Black women who voted for Hillary and supported her platform.  She reminded us that Hillary was a pro-choice feminist who garnered over 2 million more of the popular vote over Trump. She brought the house to their feet with a rousing “No, we won’t go back!” Read more here.

      Some of the young people who attended the Conference.

      On 11/15/16 conference attendees participated in the CLUW Mannequin Challenge.

      President Connie Leak reports to the delegates (pictured along with some of the National Officers Council)

      One hundred and twenty CLUW activists from throughout the country met at the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel only days after the 2016 election to plan, strategize and mobilize for the year ahead. President Connie Leak in her report to the delegates acknowledged that she had hoped the election results would have been different, but that did not change our resolve.  “As women we know what it means to struggle and no matter what the future may bring we will work to make life better for working women. That is our mission. That is what we will do.”  She received a standing ovation when she asked the crowd if they were “with her”.

      Part of this strategy involves growing CLUW and 2 new chapters received charters at the meeting – see photos for more information. Debra Berko, Secretary-Treasurer of the Southern Nevada CLC brought greetings and updated us on election victories in her state.  See information here.

      Twenty-three committees met to map out plans for the future in areas such as electoral organizing (recognizing the importance of senate races in 2018), community partnership, legislative/political action (fighting right to work legislation in the states) and immigration and its impact on women and families, for example.  Read more here.

      Maggie Cook (Pres. Of LA CLUW Chapter) seated accepts charter for CLUW of Orange County chapter. Behind her are Pres. Leak, Treasurer Judy Beard and Renee James.

      Together, the Labor Coalition for Community Action, which includes the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work, rises in solidarity with Native Americans and our allies in protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and defending Native lands from exploitation by corporations and the U.S. government. We advocate for a progressive labor movement rooted in dignity and respect of all peoples, including Native Americans and their families. See full press release here.

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  • March 28, 2017
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