Participants Include Many New CLUW Members and Young Union Women
7 of the 10 Berger-Marks Scholarship Winners: J. Packer (AFGE),K.Safar (CWA), V. Volk( AFT), B. Hale (AFGE), L. Cook (USW), E. Guerrido (TWU) and A. Payton (AFGE).
Within days of the historic 2012 election CLUW members converged in Kansas City, Missouri to attend a three day skills-building conference, November 9-11th. It drew 180 activists from the United States (from 27 states) and Canada, representing 24 different unions and worker- support organizations. Eighty one of them were new CLUW members.
The conference included intensive training in three areas (Skills for Emerging Leaders, Public Speaking and Community Engagement – with expert instructors from NEA, AFSCME and AFT respectively). It also included short workshops covering violence in the workplace, the history of women in the labor movement, organizing, women and global solidarity, CLUW’s history and advocacy, leadership and mentoring. (See Master Program and Workshop Choices for details of the Conference). Here is a short video that highlights some of the speakers and participants who attended the Conference.
CLUW received a grant from the Berger-Marks Foundation to fund 10 young women union members to participate. From a pool of 50 applicants, scholarships were awarded to 10 deserving women from AFGE TWU, UAW, AFT, CWA, OPEIU, UFCW, and LIUNA (see photo above).
The program opened with a plenary that captured the celebratory post-election mood, as well as the contributions to the election made by women.
Karen J. See, CLUW President, welcomed participants enthusiastically saying, “We are thrilled to be here on the heels of such an outstanding victory for working women. We know you will benefit from the exceptional training that will follow this afternoon and over the next two days and we look forward to having you all join us next year at our biennial convention.”
Mike Louis, Secretary Treasurer of MO State AFL-CIO, welcomed the group and in his recap of the election said….”we just won the most important election in your lifetime.”
Michael Cambiano, President of IAFF Local 42 (Kansas City), brought greetings, observing that, “You used to be told that unions are good for women, but now in 2012 women are good for unions.”
MO State Senator Jolie Justus’s words further underscored the primary message of the day, “… We (women) made a huge difference in this election,” she noted. And the war on unions and the war on women ..“made no sense to me, as it was a war on the backbone of this country”.. She encouraged union women to run for public office.
Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, President & CEO, Women’s Campaign Fund, who joined remotely (via Skype) reiterated this message and made it clear that while there were successes for women in the election, there is much yet to do and plans are underway to continue to work with CLUW chapters to encourage more union women to run for office.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, (MO District 5) and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of the 112th Congress, gave a rousing presentation bringing the attendees to their feet, saying that he was proud to be one of the 47% (referring to Mitt Romney’s negative description) and the election results were a repudiation of that kind of thinking. He went on to say that “minorities and women sent him (President Obama) back to the White House.” (see photo below).
For 13-16 hours (depending on the course selected) attendees immersed themselves in one of three tracks.
Skills for Emerging Leaders: Two of the Berger-Marks scholarship participants who selected this class were especially enthusiastic in their evaluations. “ I think the two of you (referring to the instructors ) are amazing educators! Thank you for teaching, inspiring and empowering me on my new journey in leadership,” said Jenny Divish UFCW Local 5. Erica Guerrido, TWU, Local 100 noted, ”Faced challenges and conducted a self evaluation. My classroom environment turned into a living room, I felt like I was with family. Therefore, I was inspired by the connections made in this workshop”.
Public Speaking: “I learned so much! Everyone should take this class!!” Shyla La’Sha, SAG-AFTRA. From Carla Insinga, AFSCME, “(I) found the workshop content to be AWESOME! Should be a must for all activists!!!” Laura Wentz, IATSE -- “This was a fabulous workshop. I will use all the information for my speeches and I will share the information with others.” Jamera Packer, AFGE (Berger-Marks winner) comments, “ I came a long way in two short days. This class helped me overcome some confidence issues and I can’t wait to go back to work and apply it to my position.”
Community Engagement: “One of the most informative workshops I have attended..” Ozella Anderson, CWA Local 9003. And from Debra Davis, Local 722 “Very informative, will use these skills once I go back to my local”.
A number of impromptu caucuses took place during the conference – one was created and made up of young women. In response to “Why are you here? What brought you to this conference?” comments included wanting to merge feminist and labor activism, to learn how to turn around the deficit in women in leadership, supported by President, recognizing the need for attention to women’s issues amongst other reasons.
The closing plenary included a panel discussion, “From a Young Working Woman’s Perspective”. Panelists included four Berger-Marks’ scholarship recipients: Brittny Hale (AFGE), Lisa Cook (USW), Karly Safar (CWA) and Erica Guerrido (TWU). They discussed their introduction to the labor movement, how CLUW can make itself more attractive to young union women and how their unions can get more young women to attend union meetings and participate in the union. From the evaluations and comments, for many this fresh and honest discussion was the highpoint of the weekend.
A sampling of additional comments on the conference follow:
This Conference has been awesome- I learned so much - & leave wanting more. I have so much to take back – the ending panel was great. Thanks. Lynn Burow SPEEA/IFTPE 2001
Great job! Love the young peeps! Julie Weiss/IAFF
It was an awesome experience. I have learned SO much about unions and everything they do. Shannon Salend/OUR Walmart
For CLUW we thought the whole experience was pretty awesome too!!
Attendee's from left to right: Julie Weiss, Greater KC CLUW Treasurer, Chere Chaney, Missouri CLUW State Vice President, Michele Newby, Greater KC CLUW President & National Vice President, Karen See, CLUW President, Emanuel Cleaver, US Congressman (MO-5th District), Michael Cambiano, IAFF Local 42 President, Jolie Justus, Missouri Senator, Judy Morgan, Missouri State Representative. (for additional Conference Photos click on the Photo Gallery at the top of this page).