Connie Leak (UAW) Elected President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women
Young Women Workers Featured in 17th Biennial Convention
Delegates to the 17th Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Biennial Convention elected Connie Leak as their new president. She was elected on November 15th in Reno, NV. Leak is the seventh president of CLUW and the second UAW woman to hold that position. She has been a member of UAW since 1977, holding elected positions within her local and region. Leak currently serves as International Representative in the UAW Women’s Department. Sister Leak has been a member of CLUW since 1998 and believes, “My personal goal has always been to encourage young women to lead through mentorship, training and example. They are the future leaders in our unions and CLUW.” She had formerly served as a National Vice President.
Other officers re-elected to another term were Dee Gorczyca, IFPTE, Executive Vice President; Judy Beard, APWU, Treasurer; Kerry Newkirk, SEIU, Recording Secretary and Bennie R. Bridges, AFGE, Corresponding Secretary.
Carla M. Insinga, AFSCME; Jane Blume, UAW; LaTonya Crisp-Sauray, TWU and Robyn Sherles, SEIU were newly elected as National Vice Presidents.
Shelvy Young Abrams, AFT; Diane M. Babineaux, IAM; Janet Hill, USW; Theresa Kandt, OPEIU; Angela W. Johnson, UFCW; Shyla La’Sha, SAG-AFTRA; Michele A. Newby, IAFF; Sarah Reynolds, ATU; Elisa Riordan, CWA; Joanne M. Sanders, IATSE; Vicki Sawicki, NALC and Carolyn J. Williams, IBEW were re- elected as National Vice Presidents.
Under the theme of “CLUW: Moving the Working Women’s Agenda Forward!” five hundred delegates and observers from twenty nine states and Canada engaged in four days of education and activism, setting the agenda for CLUW for the next two years.
On Wednesday, November 13th twenty three workshops were offered covering a variety of topics including; Organizing for Healthcare Justice, The Next Generation: Mentoring Future Union Leaders, Social Media 201,Voter Suppression and Getting out the Vote, and Standing Up to Change Wal-Mart to name a few
A highlight of Thursday’s session was a video, "Union Women Union Power: From the Shopfloor to the Streets" produced by the Philadelphia Chapter Young Women’s Committee, which showcased union activism throughout Philadelphia --- especially during the Temple University health care workers’ strike. You can view it along with a background write up in the article listed below.
On Friday morning, Laura Reyes, the International Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), engaged the delegates when she shared her personal story of moving from care-giver for her physically challenged son to the second highest ranking officer in AFSCME. She urged CLUW activists by exclaiming that, “This is the year of women….so seek out mentors to push beyond our fears and insecurity…”.
The afternoon session opened with a compelling panel entitled “Building an Intergenerational Labor Movement: What You Can Do as a CLUW Activist”. The panel was moderated by Carmen Berkley, the young, newly appointed Director of the AFL-CIO’s Department of Civil, Human and Women’s Rights who was most impressive as she kept the dialogue alive. She was joined by Dina Yarmus, chair of the Philadelphia Chapter’s Young Women’s Committee and Donchele Soper, a member of IBEW Local 1245 and Central California CLUW. Both young women articulated the issues facing young women workers on the job and within their local unions. They were joined by Carolyn Jacobson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Berger-Marks Foundation and longtime CLUW activist. The panelists and delegates (through a Q and A period) agreed that working together is what will strengthen us and that both young and more veteran activists can learn from each other.
The delegates considered a number of resolutions and adopted many, such as those calling for a single payer system so that scarce healthcare resources are not squandered by profiteers, marketing and excessive administrative costs; calling on members to help mobilize the entire labor movement and our allies in the progressive community to defeat the forces of austerity and anti-unionism in the debate over postal reform; that CLUW will fight to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend great schools that provide a safe and welcoming environment in their own neighborhood; that CLUW calls on all labor unions and pro-working family organizations in the United States, Canada and abroad to join the campaign to support OUR Wal-Mart’s call for Wal-Mart to publicly commit to providing workers with good jobs, full-time hours and respect on the job; that CLUW will encourage its members and chapters to incorporate programs about reproductive rights into their normal activity and to do so in conjunction with the Labor and Women’s Community; and, the Coalition of Labor Union Women endorses the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program to ensure people have much-needed income when family and medical needs arise.
The delegates also considered a four-year strategic plan presented for discussion. It was decided, however, that further exploration and input was needed before it could be considered for adoption and implementation.