Coalition of Labor Union Women
    • Mentoring is a widely recognized tool for job, career and union development, particularly for women. Mentoring circles, as discussed at the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) education conference in April, offer a powerful and accessible variation on the traditional mentor/mentee model. As noted by CLUW President Connie Leak, it is no surprise that CLUW is an active advocate of both practices.

      This article, based on a workshop at the CLUW conference, focuses on what mentoring circles are and why CLUW is encouraging its chapters and union women's committees to initiate them — as well as how to create and sustain them.

      The Association for Women in Science defines mentoring circles as "a small group committed to meeting regularly and supporting one another with advice, encouragement and information" with a particular focus on "career growth and problem-solving...."

      As CLUW Pres. Leak observed, "Some of us have been lucky to have had a mentor…to have been taken under the wing of a more senior advisor/mentor — someone who taught us the ropes, the 'unspoken' rules, the unwritten politics of the union.” 

      "Unfortunately, for women and minorities, what I have just described is most often the exception rather than the rule, as most mentors are men and we know that men — when they look for mentors — most often seek out a mentee who looks like them or looked like them 25 years ago.  That excludes many women and minorities....”.  Read more here.

      CLUW members discuss mentoring circles as a way to educate and engage members and potential members.

      5 Reasons You Might Be Depressed
      from HealthyWomen’s Mental Health Center

      by Elizabeth Battaglino, Co-Founder, Women's Health Expert, RN

      (Note from CLUW’s Women’s Health & Wellness Committee: May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  We feature here an article on the topic from our health partner, HealthyWomen.

      The Committee has become increasingly concerned about mental health, due to its prevalence and the lack of affordable, accessible services to secure it in the U.S. Two resolutions adopted at the 2015 CLUW Convention – “Stand Your Ground:  Prevent Gun Violence” and “Reform the Criminal Justice System” – recognized the great need for more mental health services.

      Additionally, a convention speaker addressed the issue and gave us a Mental Health and Wellness Resource Guide, which you can find under “Convention Resources” on the CLUW homepage.

      Mother’s Day begins National Women’s Health Week, an excellent time to focus on our health and Health & Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health provides the tools for women to lead  healthier lives at any age.)  

      The sun's out, summer is upon us, the weather is finally warming up. Many people—especially those living where winters get cold—are emerging from the "winter doldrums," finally opening up the windows, feeling more energetic and hopeful and spending more time outdoors.

      Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects about 4 percent to 6 percent of people, and another 10 percent to 20 percent suffer from a mild form of this seasonal depression.

      But weather and seasons aren't the only reasons people get depressed. Depression—with feelings that range from discouragement to hopelessness—is a serious mood disorder that can cause severe symptoms, and not just seasonally. It affects approximately 19 million Americans in a given year.

      Most of us get depressed or "down" every once in a while, but major depression is different: it's felt most of the day, for nearly every day of the week for at least two weeks and it interferes with your daily life. Severity, duration and the presence of other symptoms distinguish depression from ordinary sadness.  Read more here.

      This year,  for the second consecutive year, CLUW will provide one $500.00 scholarship to each of the  United Association for Labor Education (UALE) Women’s Schools to help defray the costs of a participant to attend. Applicants must be a CLUW member or become a member by the time the application is submitted. Please find the application in a “WORD” version or in the PDF version. Applications must be submitted by Friday, June 3, 2016 to or by fax to 717.564.7491 or mailed to:  CLUW, ATTN: Women’s Schools, 815 16th Street, N.W., 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20006.


      Providing support and making skills training available are CLUW priorities as young women are encouraged to move into leadership positions within CLUW and their unions. On April 7th preceding the NEB conference and meeting CLUW called together over 25 women, young and not-so-young to address the thing that’s been on everyone’s mind – young people. They told stories about how they came into CLUW, what it was that drew them in and the opportunities they found, including leadership and independence since joining a chapter. Long and short term goals, creating spaces for young women, and nurturing the involvement of those that were recruited were some of the topics discussed. Conference calls are planned to discuss the election, recruiting young women, etc. Some of those in attendance can be seen in the slide show video that took place as part of the conference plenary on April 8th. For information on how to get involved with CLUW’s young women workers contact Akina Reid, Membership and Field Organizer at 202.508.6958 or at  

      L to R: Hilary Bloomfield (CWA), Tina Maria Manning (AFT), LaTonya Crisp-Sauray (TWU), Elizabeth Moran (AFSCME)Natasha Isma (AFSCME)

      CLUW scheduled several strategic planning sessions during the NEB meeting where actions were recommended for convention resolutions and other issues were evaluated in the context of how CLUW can make an impact on the upcoming 2016 election. Members posed for photos with signs stating their priorities for the upcoming election.  You can see one of those above.

      Two new chapters were chartered during the NEB meeting – Greater Oklahoma City and Neshaminy-Bucks County (PA) pictured below.

      L-R front: Mary Leszczuk, Elly McNelis and Denise Luna

      CardioDX (CLUW’s partner in the Spread the Word Campaign) presented Certificates of Excellence to Helen Ramirez-Odell and Millie Hall, Co-Chairs of CLUW’s Women's Health and Wellness Committee for their leadership in making women’s heart health a priority.

      L to R:Helen Ramirez-Odell, Connie Leak and Millie Hall

      Lilly Ledbetter, namesake for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and a true trailblazer in her own right, shared her story with CLUW delegates and guests at the 2016 CLUW’s Biennial Working Women's Award Celebration. More than 200 people gathered on April 7th at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD to hear Ms. Ledbetter as she relived her journey to recoup lost wages and benefits from Goodyear Tire Company in Birmingham, AL. It’s estimated that she lost nearly 40% in earnings during her tenure, where men working in the same capacity earned more over fewer years. Click here to capture the essence of her speech.

      Thank you Lilly, for your courage and your steadfast commitment to equal pay for all women!

      We would like to thank Hugh A. Clarke for the photos that he took during this event.  You can view more images in the Working Women's Award Photo Gallery.

      On April 8, 2016, CLUW hosted an educational conference to kick off its efforts to educate women on the issues most pertinent to them in the 2016 election. The opening plenary session included presenters Liz McElroy and Cecelie Counts from the AFL-CIO, and Dana Singiser from Planned Parenthood.

      McElroy, Deputy Director of the Political Department, presented an overview of data collected by the AFL-CIO through various surveys of working people. Counts, representative from the Government Affairs Department, explained the importance of the choices we make up and down the ballot and the impact they have on Courts at the local, state and federal level. Singiser, from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, updated the crowd on the various attacks on women’s health access at the state and federal level. In each case, the speakers related the impact of political decisions on women’s lives and stressed the importance of political activism to ensure women have a say in their futures.  For futher details on the conference program click here.

      As part of its spring 2016 conference “Election 2016: What’s at Stake”, CLUW members, guests and observers took time to honor women in several categories for their contributions to improving women’s opportunities and access to equality. The following women were this year’s honorees:

      Friend of Labor Lifetime Achievement Award Grassroots Leader Award
      Barbara Mikulski Dina Beaumont Maryann Medina
      US Senator, MD CWA APWU
      Pioneer Award Olga Madar Leadership Award Outstanding Achiever Award
      Marsha Zakowski Shirley Taylor Helen Ramirez-Odell
      Rising Star Award Trailblazer Award Appreciation Award
      Natasha Isma Helene Shay Carmen Berkley

      CLUW Officers and Award Recipients

      Top row L-R: Judy Beard, Diane Babineaux, Carla Insinga, Joanne Sanders, Connie Leak, Helen Ramirez-Odell, Kerry Newkirk, Dee Gorczyca, Vera Newton, Tanya James, Sarah Reynolds.

      Bottom row L-R: Angela Johnson, Bennie Bridges, Senator Mikulski’s Representative, Marsha Zakowski, Janet Hill, Lilly Ledbetter, Natasha Isma, LaTonya Crisp-Sauray, Shirley Taylor, Helene Shay, Maryann Medina.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women

  • May 26, 2016
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