Coalition of Labor Union Women History
Following months of discussion and planning, more than 1,200 union women from across the U.S. convened in Chicago, IL on March 12, 1974, to form an organization to address the critical needs of millions of unorganized working women and make unions more responsive to the needs of all working women. The organization they created is CLUW, whose primary purpose is to serve as an entity where working women could share common problems and concerns and develop action programs within the framework of unions to deal effectively with these objectives.
1974: March 23-24, Chicago, IL: Founding Conference elects Olga M. Madar as president. Delegates adopt as CLUW's mission four goals: organize the unorganized; promote affirmative action; increase women's participation in their unions; and increase women's participation in political and legislative activities.
1975: First Constitutional Convention. First National Women's Health Conference. After the AFL-CIO endorses the Equal Rights Amendment, CLUW becomes the first organization to move its convention from non-ratified Equal Rights Amendment state to ratified state. Publishes Women and Health Security.
1976: National Convention. First Conference on Pay Equity.
1977: National Convention. Joyce D. Miller elected president. CLUW joins with other women's, civil rights and religious groups to lobby for minimum wage increase. Participates in Decade of Women Conference. Publishes booklet Commitment to Child Care.
1978: National Convention. CLUW Center for Education and Research established.
1979: First Biennial National Convention: "A Woman's Place is in Her Union." Publishes Effective Contract Language for Union Women and a CLUW health and safety series.
1980: CLUW President Joyce D. Miller becomes the first woman elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council. First National Conference on Organizing the Unorganized. Publishes Absent from the Agenda, a survey of women representation within the leadership of the labor movement.
1981: CLUW participates in Solidarity Day. Publishes Lead: A New Perspective on an Old Problem.
1982: Second Biennial National Convention: "A Past of Progress ... A Future of Promise." Jointly sponsors Baltimore/Washington Women's Organization. Publishes A Handbook for Empowerment of Union Women.
1983: National Conference on Working Women and Substance Abuse, second National Conference on Organizing the Unorganized. Organizes the Women's Vote Project, a coalition of 38 national women's organizations to register and educate women voters.
1984: Third Biennial National Convention: "Women in Unions: A Decade of Progress ... A Future of Growth;" National Legislative Conference; National Affirmative Action Conference. CLUW activists register thousands of women to vote.
1985: Three national conferences on family and work issues. Publishes Bargaining for Child Care: A Union Parent's Guide.
1986: Fourth Biennial National Convention: "Challenged by Our Past-Forging Change for Our Future." First annual Working Women's Awareness Week. Conferences on older and retired women workers, minority women workers. Sets up CLUW sexual harassment hotline, files brief to US Supreme Court on sexual harassment case (Vinson v. Meritor Savings Bank). Participates in March for Women's Lives.
1987: Third National Conference on Organizing the Unorganized.
1988: Fifth Biennial National Convention: "Today's Challenge, Tomorrow's Change." National Conference on Legislation and Political Action. Joint sponsorship of four regional Bargaining for Our Families Conferences. Calls for a national family policy with the American Family Celebration (50,000 union, civil, religious and women's rights activists attend). Establishes annual Hits & Ms.'s List - the Best and Worst for Working Women.
1989: Three regional Bargaining for Our Families Conferences. Obtains funding for project to fight government intervention in women's reproductive freedom. Files brief in landmark case on hazardous chemicals and reproductive health (UAW v. Johnson Controls).
1990: Conferences on video display terminals; Maquiladoras and Immigration; Women in Non-traditional Jobs. Expands Reproductive Rights Project. Publishes Women and Children First: An Analysis of Trends in Federal Tax Policy.
1991: Sixth Biennial National Convention: "Decade of Empowerment - Union Women on the Move." Conferences on Women and Retirement; Women's Health; Fighting "isms." CLUW participates in Solidarity Day II. Publishes Bargaining for Family Benefits: A Union Member's Guide and Is Your Job Making You Sick?: A CLUW Handbook on Health and Safety.
1992: National conferences held on Sexual Harassment; Organizing the Unorganized; Communicating With the Media; Political Action, Recruitment and Communications; and Women and Economic Empowerment. Hundreds of CLUW activists participate in March for Women's Lives.
1993: Seventh Biennial National Convention: "CLUW: The Future ... Challenge, Change and Choice." Joyce D. Miller steps down as CLUW president to serve as Executive Director of Glass Ceiling Commission; Gloria T. Johnson elected CLUW president and AFL-CIO Executive Council vice president. Conferences on Breaking the Glass Ceiling; joint Women's Conference on National Health Care. Participates in National Conference on Women and Children. Charters chapters in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. Moves CLUW convention from Denver to protest Colorado's anti-gay referendum. Publishes Union Women Speak Out on Health Care Issues Including Abortion; Women Care About Health; Family Medical Leave Act Resource Guide; and sexual harassment materials.
1994: CLUW celebrates 20th anniversary. Conferences on Strategic Planning for CLUW; National Health Care Reform; and Women in the Global Economy. Conducts CLUW membership survey. Participates in DOL Women's Bureau "Working Women Count" survey. Testifies before Dunlop Commission on labor law reform. Protests NAFTA, GATT and sweatshops ("Come Shop With Me Campaign"). Publishes Shaping the Agenda: Women and Unions Moving Towards the 21st Century (update of Absent From the Agenda).
1995: Eighth Biennial National Convention: "Union Women: Power, Politics, Participation." Conferences on Surviving and Thriving as a Labor Union Woman: 1995 and Beyond; Women and HIV/AIDS; Young Women Workers: Solidarity Across the Generations; joint conferences on Campaign Skills Building; Workplace 2000: Women's Rights, Workers' Rights; and Strengthening Women's Voices in the Workplace. Participates in March for Women's Lives; 75th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment march/rally; affirmative action rally. Sponsors affirmative action "call-in day," and "write-in" to the U.N. protesting human rights violations in China. Publishes Affirmative Action: Dispelling the Myths.
1996: Conferences on Voter Education and Participation; Organizing and Political Action; and Union Women for Political Empowerment: '96 Get Out the Vote. Joint conference on Full Participation. Other joint campaigns/activities: Come Shop With Me; Stop Sweatshops!; Child Labor Coalition initiative; March to Fight the Right; Stand for Children Rally; America Needs a Raise Town Hall meetings/Labor '96 events; National AIDS Quilt Display; Women's Vote Project: Operation Big Vote; and DOL Women's Bureau 75th Anniversary. Survey/report on Mid-life and Older Union Women Talking About Health Care. President Johnson appointed to head AFL-CIO Standing Committee on Women's Issues. Publishes CLUW Leadership Directory.
1997: Ninth Biennial National Convention: "Women: Labor's Future," features Women's Health Fair and Young Women Workers Forum. Conferences on Building the Labor Movement Through CLUW Chapter Actions; Unionizing Technology; and jointly, HIV/AIDS. Events/campaigns: Strawberry Workers march/rally/boycott; UPS strike; CLUW Back-to-School Teamsters Project. Participates in "Ask a Working Woman" survey and conferences.
1998: Conferences on Developing Strategies for implementing CLUW's Goals; Working to End Violence Against Women: Union Strategies for Action; Taking Charge of Our Health; and Common Sense Economics for Working Families. Participates in AFL-CIO's Full Participation Conference; the 150th anniversary of the first women's rights conference in Seneca Falls, N.Y.; Equal Pay Day; and Union Women Vote '98. Gave 10 CLUW Labor Education Scholarships to members pursuing labor studies. Launched national recruitment campaign: "2000 New Members by 2000."
1999: Celebration of CLUW's 25th anniversary at the Tenth Biennial National Convention in Chicago, IL where CLUW was born. Convention theme: "We Didn't Come Here to Swap Recipes - Not Then, 1974 - not now, 1999." Conferences on Saving Social Security: Union Women's Tools for Action; and The Power of the Union Card. Published Sharing Our Stories: Voices at Work, a compilation of stories from 54 CLUW activists about their union experiences.
2000: Launched Election 2000 Project focusing on mobilizing women to register to vote, communicate on political issues, and participate in election activities. Political Action Conferences included Working Together For Change, held in conjunction with the Working Women's Department Conference of the AFL-CIO; and Women Count: If You Don't Vote You Won't; and A Woman's Vote = A Family Win! Participated with women's groups from 157 countries in International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Joined the Jubilee 2000 mobilization to support debt cancellation for developing countries. Participates in the U.S./African Trade Union Summit on HIV/AIDS in Washington, DC. President Gloria Johnson called on world leaders to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Platform for Action created at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Gave six CLUW Labor Education Scholarships to members pursuing Labor Studies.
2001: Eleventh Biennial National Convention: "Designing Our Own Future" held in Las Vegas in October. Held conferences on CLUW and the Family; Bargaining for Working Families; and Lobbying for Prosperity. Co-hosted Union Leadership Conference on Domestic Violence Training, with Family Violence Prevention Fund. Launched "BushWhacks," a series monitoring George Bush's anti-worker, anti-women policies and actions. Joined the "Fair Taxes for All" campaign calling for rejection of the Bush tax cut proposal. Participated in NOW's Emergency Action for Women's Lives. Initiated campaign for inclusion of contraceptives in union negotiated health care plans. Received $225,000 Centers for Disease Control grant for Labor Leader Initiative on HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention Program. Hosted forums for union women leaders from Scotland and Indonesia.
2002: NEB adopts a multi-year strategic plan aimed at getting more union women involved in organizing and political action. CLUW pledges support and action for the UFCW’s Justice for Wal-Mart Workers campaign and UNITE’s Behind the Label anti-sweatshop initiative. CLUW’s 10-point political action plan for the 2002 elections mobilizes hundreds of activists to staff phone banks and get out the vote. CLUW representatives participate in Code Pink and other demonstrations to avert the U.S. war on Iraq; National Executive Board adopts resolution condemning unilateral U.S. military action. CLUW’s Contraceptive Equity Project continues to advocate for all union-negotiated health plans to include contraceptive coverage. Receives $250,000 Centers for Disease Control & Prevention renewal grant for a Labor Leader Initiative on HIV/AIDS Awareness Program. Establishes a Project Advisory Committee and a Labor Leadership Forum staffed with reps from the AFL-CIO and NEA. Holds forum for young women workers, featuring NOW President Kim Gandy, among others. Conferences included Mobilizing and Organizing; and Political Action. Participates in nationwide "Wal-Mart Day of Action" in November.
2003: CLUW holds 12th Biennial Convention in Seattle, Washington, with the theme: "Vision, Voices, Votes: Building the Labor Movement." Works with other constituency groups to formulate a joint political action plan for the 2004 elections, and begins efforts to seek funding. Works with the AFL-CIO and other groups on the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride; America’s Choices Forum; and opposition to the Free Trade Area of the Americas campaign. Receives $250,000 CDC grant in partnership with Academy for Educational Development for "Working Women ROCC (Reach Out on Cervical Cancer)," an education effort among union women to bring greater awareness about cervical cancer prevention. Conferences include Women in the Global Economy; and Educating to Fight for Economic Security.
2004: CLUW hosts in New Orleans the first of approximately 25 town hall meetings to be held from the spring until Election Day. Sponsored by the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA), the town hall meetings give voters a chance to sound off on the issues they care most about. In addition to CLUW, the other LCCA organizations include A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Pride at Work. CLUW is active and was co-sponsor of the March for Women’s Lives which calls for guaranteeing women access to family planning, health care, abortion and reproductive health. CLUW celebrates its 30th anniversary at Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington DC. CLUW kicks off its "Count to 5" Campaign which mobilizes CLUW members to sign up at least 5 women who promise to vote for candidates who support issues of importance to working women in the general election. CLUW works with the Voices for Working Families’ Women’s Voices project to register voters, to share information about issues that affect women’s lives and to provide opportunities to raise a unified voice for women’s priorities. At the August NEB in New Mexico Gloria T. Johnson steps down as CLUW president and Susan L. Phillips (UFCW) assumes the presidency. Conferences include Working Women in 2004 and Women Voices for Change. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renews CLUW’s HIV/AIDS cooperative agreement to continue to conduct education and prevention activities in AFL-CIO unions and affiliates under the umbrella of the Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS Program (BRTA-LRTA). Working Women ROCC (Reaching Out against Cervical Cancer) begins with focus groups, a website and distributing information regarding the fact that this cancer is preventable and if found early curable. In October, the project partners with union rock musician and cervical cancer survivor Christine Baze in her 2004 Yellow Umbrella Tour, which featured concerts promoting cervical cancer awareness in cities across the U.S.
2005: CLUW’s Contraceptive Equity Project scores a number of victories, including the passage of state mandates in Arkansas and West Virginia. CLUW starts its own cervical cancer prevention project, Cervical Cancer Prevention Works, which works in close partnership with Women in Government and the Balm in Gilead. The CLUW HIV/AIDS cooperative agreement completes its funding cycle of April 1, 2001-March 31, 2005. CDC announces that it will conduct an extensive assessment of the BRTA/LRTA Program with no guarantees that its funding will be renewed. CLUW’s e-Activist network which provides e-mail alerts about issues important to union women has about 1,300 subscribers. CLUW NEB programs include Analyzing the New Political Landscape and Building CLUW Membership: The Role of the NEB. CLUW supports the Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign to bring public attention to the anti-worker, anti-union practices of the nation’s largest private-sector employer. In July Susan L. Phillips resigns as CLUW President and Marsha Zakowski (USW) becomes Acting President. CLUW participates in the Diversity Summit in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Convention. On August 26 (Women’s Equality Day) CLUW members lobby on their home turf to support the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and join in the national campaign on Human Rights Day in December. CLUW holds the 13th Biennial Convention in Detroit, Michigan, with the theme “Union Women: Building the Movement.” Convention Conference focuses on the affect the global economy has on women here and abroad. Convention reception honors past president Gloria Johnson. Marsha Zakowski (USW) was elected president.
2006: CLUW launches campaign to protect and extend Family Leave. CLUW Conferences include Leadership Development and “Gotta CLUW: New Generation of Activists” which focuses on new ways to recruit more women -- especially younger workers -- into struggles for workplace issues. CLUW participates in the July Week of Action demanding that the NLRB do its job and protect workers’ rights. CLUW joins with the Sister Study to help locate women whose sisters have had breast cancers in an effort to find the causes of this disease. During the 2006 elections CLUW members get out the vote and educate our members about issues of importance to working women. We participate in the AFL-CIO Voter Protection Program and in the all-women voter mobilization “Stir the Pot” events. Our conference “Framing the Debate” prepares our members to emphasize working family issues in the elections and learn how to combat the conservative agenda. CLUW’s Contraceptive Equity Project scores a major victory when the largely male Masters, Mates and Pilots Union adds contraceptive coverage for its 6,800 member and spouses. Its Cervical Cancer Prevention Works project works closely with CLUW chapters and unions in CA to successfully secure HPV test coverage there.
2007: CLUW Conferences address “Organizing to Win” and “Run for Office? Sure You Can! Union Women and Politics: The Voice of Power.” CLUW celebrates the reintroduction of the Women and Equality Amendment. CLUW participates in the Voices of Iraqi Workers Solidarity Tour which gives opportunity to dialogue directly with Iraqi workers and labor leaders. CLUW participates in AFL-CIO regional diversity dialogues to discuss full participation and inclusion for all members in the labor movement. CLUW continues to push for contraceptive equity. Cervical Cancer Prevention Works continues to use CLUW and labor communications and education channels to make certain that union women have the necessary information so that they will not contract this disease. 14th Biennial Convention takes place in October in Las Vegas with the theme “A New Direction for Working Women.” Convention workshops cover “Policy and Politics: The CLUW to Reality, Issues and Action!” and include subjects such as Labor and LGBT Equality, 2008 Political Party Conventions: Be a Delegate and Voice for Labor, and Self-Defense Inside and Outside the Home. The convention emphasizes that union women can make the key difference in the 2008 elections if they assume leadership in their unions and mobilize around issues important to working families. A panel addresses “Diversity in the Labor Movement-Dialogue and Action”. Delegates set policy thru support of 18 resolutions calling for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, emphasizing the need to make health care issues a cornerstone of CLUW’s work, calling on complete withdrawal of all American troops and private contractors from Iraq, calling on more women and people of color in union leadership and support of USW’s “Protect our Kids-Stop Toxic Imports” campaign to name a few.
CLUW chapters participate in the AFL-CIO’s Women’s Voices Women’s Vote campaign by sending postcards to women urging them to vote.
2008: CLUW focuses on election issues and education thru conferences on “Out the Gate in 2008” concentrating on political activist training and “National Health Care and Paycheck Fairness: It’s About Time” which includes a rally to end pay discrimination in front of the Federal Building in Cleveland and features special presenter Lilly Ledbetter. The last conference of the year “CLUW GOTV Activity and Working Women’s Vote 2008” includes perspectives from the Younger Women’s Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, Planned Parenthood, Jobs with Justice, League of Women Voters and Missouri Women in the Trades. CLUW National Executive Board meetings take place in battleground states and include labor walks in Ohio and Missouri.
CLUW kicks off its GOTV campaign: “2008 Count to 5! Your Vote Counts” by talking to women about the issues and urging 5 voters supportive of working women’s issues to vote. CLUW participates in voter protection activities thru the AFL-CIO “My Vote, My Right” project. The Labor Coalition for Community Action (composed of all the AFL-CIO constituency groups) convenes Town Hall meetings on nonpartisan election issues in strategic locations throughout the country.
CLUW serves as the leading organization during the Equal Pay Day observance with a press conference on April 23rd on Capitol Hill urging the Senate vote in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We actively support the Million- Member Mobilization for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and the health care reform campaign.
We participate in the “Walk to Beat the Clock! Help End Cervical Cancer” activity. The DVD “Say Something” is introduced as an educational tool on cervical cancer prevention.
2009: Central Florida and New Hampshire (Sisters of Solidarity) chapters are chartered and Kansas City and Cleveland CLUW chapters are revitalized.
“Change! A New Day for CLUW and Union Women” conference focuses on sharing experiences by CLUW chapter and state leaders on how to energize CLUW at the chapter level. “The Economic Recovery and Its Impact on Women” is the subject of our conference in Detroit in June and includes presentations on the Blue Green Alliance, Heath Care Reform, The Family and Medical Leave Act and Workplace Leave Policies and the Economy and its Impact on Michigan Workers.
We campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act thru creating and distributing leaflets specific to the impact on women, participate on radio talk shows and panels and create a CLUW song and video to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever.
We applaud the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
We participate in the “Power in Diversity” Conference as part of the AFL-CIO Convention supporting “A Diverse Movement Calls for Diverse Leadership” resolution.
We participate in the Pearl of Wisdom campaign to educate our members about cervical cancer prevention.
15th Biennial Convention takes place in Los Angeles in October with the theme “The Rising Tide of Change”. Karen J. See (APWU) is elected president. Through constitutional amendment, four additional seats are added to the National Officers Council specifically for representation from previously non-represented unions. The convention mandates thru resolution a “Committee on the Future of CLUW” to analyze and recommend organizational changes. Other resolutions call on CLUW to renew its commitment to ensure that women have safe, legal, accessible health services including preventive care and all reproductive health services, call on CLUW to join efforts to advocate for universal single payer health care coverage and demand that a strong public option be included in any health plan considered by Congress, call on CLUW to join the Triangle Fire Remembrance Coalition commemorating a defining moment in Women’s and Labor History, call for fair trade laws that raise living standards and human rights, call on the ratification of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) and call to support an exit strategy from Afghanistan. Also support commemoration of Dred and Harriet Scott who filed suit to obtain freedom for their family in 1846 but were denied by the Supreme Court that determined that those of African race were not to be afforded the rights so afforded to the white race thru the Constitution. First Gloria T. Johnson Women in Union Leadership Scholarship awarded.
2010: Three Leadership Academies take place in Washington, DC, Ft. Worth, Texas and Reno, NV in conjunction with NEB meetings. Subjects cover: Leadership Styles for New Union Women, How to Put Your CLUW Chapter on the Map, Building a Public Message, Recruiting and Mentoring the Next Generation of Labor Women, Robert’s Rules of Order, Planning and Decision Making in Your Chapter, Immigration Reform, Jobs and the Economy, Getting out the Vote in 2010, How to Create Fun and Effective Meetings, The Health Reform Law and its Impact on Women, The Family Friendly Workplace: How Unions Win It, What Unions Can Do So the Next Generation of Union Activists Become Leaders and Strategies to Address the Distortions in the Movie (“Don’t Wait for Superman”) and to Push for Balanced Education Reform.
Congresswoman Edie Bernice Johnson addresses the group in Ft. Worth. Delegates vote to condemn Arizona’s SB 1070 which codifies racial profiling by mandating police officers to stop anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is not authorized to be in the US. Support green schools resolution. In Nevada Sen. Nina Turner (OH) and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith (NV) speak to the delegates.
Hold our first Working Women’s Award Celebration in March where we honor some of the working women who have made a difference through their service to working families. Hold a lobby day on Capitol Hill focusing on the Paycheck Fairness Act, Healthy Families Act and Health Reform.
Add 5 new chapters: Northern VA, Milehigh (Denver), Northwest OH, Central CA and Kate Mullany (Albany, NY) Partner with the Women’s Campaign Forum, She Should Run program to encourage more women to run for office and to seek political appointments. Mobilize our members to take part in One Nation Rally in DC. We support efforts to organize airline employees at Northwest and Delta and efforts to represent Transportation Security Administration employees. We participate in the “Strengthen Social Security--Don’t Cut It” coalition. Support the Women & Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs Act. Equal Pay Day focuses on passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act (that would ensure remedies for wage discrimination and make it easier to sue on behalf of groups of women) but the bill was killed in November by a minority of senators who prevented it from coming to the floor for a vote. Support passage of CEDAW in the Senate (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
CLUW NEWS publication is reinstituted.
Active in Health Care Reform Campaign, working with women’s groups in lobbying against restrictive anti-choice measures.
CLUW partners in the Pearl of Wisdom campaign that serves to heighten cervical cancer awareness and prevention in the labor community.
CLUW membership mobilizes to get out the vote.
Page Last Updated: Aug 28, 2012 (16:22:05)