Coalition of Labor Union Women
    • My Train the Trainer Experience with the AFL-CIO Young Workers Advisory Council

      This intensive four day training, from June 25–29th, 2015, prepared young workers from across the country to be facilitators in the Common Sense Economics program from the AFL-CIO, which has an initiative to educate 1 million people about every day economics. Young workers from across the country ranged from LCLAA, IBEW, USW, AFSCME and our very own Maryland CLUW State President, Rachel A. Walthall (APWU)(pictured at right in photo and CLUW’s Young Women Workers/Recruitment committee chair & AFSCME NEB delegate Natasha Isma (at left with arms around Jocelyn Woodards, National Community Engagement Coordinator, Mid-West Region, AFL-CIO). During this training we learned presentation skills, public speaking and financial literacy from the Consumer Finance Protection Board.   

      As a scholarship winner from the AFL-CIO representing CLUW I was honored to be surrounded by so many young activists from various organizations such as ALOT (Atlanta Leaders of Tomorrow),  DC Young Trade Unionists and various CLC (central labor council) staffers. This training has prepared me to conduct trainings at my local union meeting, various constituency groups and community meetings. The minimum requirement after training is to conduct at least three trainings before September 1st. Participants are ready to present and are networking together in co-presenting to reach more people across the country. CLUW sisters are already planning on ways to bring this to our members.
      Contributed by Natasha Isma


      CLUW Activists Featured in Labor Notes

      In Labor Notes of June 23rd ‘Who's Next: Making Space for Young Workers in the Union’ Dina Yarmus, chair of the Young Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia CLUW chapter commented that, “Some committee members are doing an “each one teach one” project, where activists take turns sharing in-depth lessons from their own workplace organizing. Meanwhile other committee members are focusing long-range at ways to connect to other young women labor activists across the country.”

      “A lot of people start with really big expectations when they send out a meeting notice and get really disappointed when only five people show up,” said CLUW member Caniesha Seldon. Chair of OPEIU Local 2’s Rising Stars committee “But a dedicated group of five people can do a lot of things. People will see what you’re doing if you keep doing it.” You can find the full article here.

      Pictured here are delegates at IATSE’s 8th District Conference.  From the left are Deborah Mayer South Bend IN; Jennie Bullen, Columbus, OH; Sandra Sobotka, Detroit, MI; Helen Louie, Akron, OH; Stacia Savage, Grand Rapids, MI; Joanne Sanders, CLUW National VP, Indianapolis, IN; and Diane Burke, Cleveland, OH.

      CLUW continues to push out its ‘Spread the Word’ campaign to union women across the country.  Some of the campaign message includes:

      -One in three women dies from heart disease, making it the #1 killer of women in the United States

      -Women may experience less obvious symptoms when their heart artery has a blockage. This could include tightness or pressure in the back, a burning sensation like heartburn, dizziness, back pain or sudden weakness

      -Partner with your doctor to find the right testing option for you

      Recent activities include:

      -CLUW Vice President Joanne Sanders (IATSE) reports that IATSE District 8 (Indiana, MI, Ohio) held its annual convention in June, where there was a STW program (see photo above).

      -CLUW Health & Wellness Co-Chair Helen Ramirez-O’Dell wrote about the campaign and CLUW’s involvement in the Working Women’s History Project (Chicago) June e-newsletter. She also made a presentation on it to the Chicago Federation of Teachers retirees.

      -CLUW Special Assistant to the President Carolyn Jacobson spoke about the campaign at the DC CLUW Chapter’s annual Gloria T. Johnson awards luncheon.

      -Carolyn was also the keynote speaker at the Kate Mullany CLUW Chapter /Public Employees Federation “Health and Wellness” Fair in Albany, NY. (see photo below).

      -Check out what happened at the CWA convention by clicking here.

      Additionally the Amalgamated Transit Union had Spread the Word posted on its homepage “scroller” and OPEIU has Spread the Word featured on the bottom of page 11 of the June White Collar magazine.

      CLUW President Connie Leak notes, “Thanks to everyone who has taken action on this important campaign. We are hoping that these reports inspire those that haven’t yet, to take action.”

      CLUW members with STW poster, from the left are Liz Moran (CSEA), Carolyn, Maddie Shannon-Roberts (PEF),  Holly Clark (CLUW Chapter Pres., AFT),  and Barb Ullmer (PEF).

      Detroit, MI – For the first time ever, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Women's Committee got a standing ovation in response to their report to the convention, which was held last month here.  And then the 1,200 delegates unanimously adopted their resolution, “Women’s Voices Must Be Heard and Respected.”

      The CWA National Women's Committee is comprised of representatives from around the country and across various sectors in the union.

      The t-shirt that the CWA women’s committee wore on stage had hot pink lettering on the back that said, "Can't believe we have to fight this shit again." The women brought an extra 300 to sell and donated the $6,000 proceeds to a local Detroit non-profit called "Alternatives for Girls." 

      Special thanks for the resolution, which includes language supporting CLUW and its ‘Spread the Word’ heart health campaign, go to CWA/CLUW members Nancy A. Biagini, CWA Representative, Human Rights and Legislation (NEB) and Elisa Riordan, CLUW Vice President. CLUW Pres. Connie Leak was there, too, to view the event and meet CWA CLUW sisters.  She is pictured below, left, with Elisa Riordan, at the constituency group table.   

      On June 28, 2015, the Metro DC Chapter of CLUW celebrated women’s leadership with their annual Gloria T. Johnson Awards Luncheon. Gloria T. Johnson served as president of CLUW from 1993 to 2004, and served as treasurer of CLUW for seventeen years prior to that. She was also elected vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1993. She has represented the American labor movement at conferences across the globe, focusing on concerns to women.

      This year, our very own Executive Director, Carol Rosenblatt (AFSCME) and Gwend Johnson (CWA) the Treasurer of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and a long time CLUW member were the recipients of the award. After the food was blessed and a song of praise was sung by AFSCME Local 2921 President Michael Flood, attendees enjoyed a buffet lunch.

      Congratulations to the recipients of the Gloria Johnson award, Gwend Johnson(left) and Carol Rosenblatt (right).

      Before the awards were given out, President Leak spoke about the importance of being an example, and bringing up young women to pass the baton to.  Carolyn Jacobson, Special Assistant to the President then spoke about CLUW’s Spread the Word Campaign, advocating for women’s heart health and awareness of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and handed out materials that could be used to ‘Spread the Word’.

      These prestigious awards were presented by the Metro DC Chapter President Donna Brockington. After a few words of thanks from the honorees, Elise Bryant (Labor Heritage Foundation) and Luci Murphy (DC Labor Chorus) lead the audience in songs about women’s strength and changing the world.

      Closing remarks from the Chapter President which left the room energized as she spoke about being an active part of CLUW and advocating for generations to come.

      Connie Leak, President; Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director and Judy Beard, Treasurer

      This week has been full of victories for us!

      "These case decisions are very important to CLUW. They are issues that CLUW has been involved in for a very long time. We are pleased to see all of our advocacy efforts yielding results on a large-scale level."  - CLUW President Connie Leak

      On June 23, 2015, in East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, the Fifth Circuit Court rules unanimously in favor of employees in faith based jobs seeking contraception through the Affordable Care Act. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act ensures that religious freedoms are protected. However, in this case, the religious employers cannot deny employees contraceptive rights through the Affordable Care Act because the RFRA does not entitle them to deny services from third parties.


      On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 vote, has decided to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has helped over 16 million uninsured people attain health insurance, of that 16 million 7.7 million are women, 2.3 million are African American, and 4.2 million are Latino. We are very pleased that they will be able to remain insured and be able to receive health care. With the uninsured rate being down in May 2015 to 13.2%, we still have work to do. 

      -24.3% of Latinos are still uninsured, that's nearly one in four. 

      -15.8% of African Americans are still uninsured. 

      -16.9% of all unmarried women are still uninsured, compared to married women's 11% uninsured rate.

      On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, affirmed the right for same sex couples to be married legally in all 50 states. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ community.

      “Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the equality, dignity and essential humanity of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and reaffirmed this country’s bedrock principle – engraved over the entrance to the Court itself – that all Americans are entitled to equal justice under law.” - Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States.

      The value of belonging to a union was clear to everyone attending the Greater New Jersey CLUW Chapter “Women’s Health, Safety and Financial Well-being” conference on May 30.  The 30+ participants at CWA Local 1040 headquarters in Trenton, listened attentively as opening presenter Cecelia Gilligan Leto (USW), (seated on left in photo) spoke about “Identifying and preventing hazards in the workplace & Intro to OSHA Presentation.” Her full-time job is project coordinator at the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC), where she works as an authorized OSHA trainer.  She also serves as CLUW chapter president and as a trustee and shop steward of her local.

      Participants learned that as important as it is to enact safety and health laws (which unions are often leading the fight for), it is equally important to know one’s workplace safety and health rights under the state and federal law.  And the best way to learn and assert those rights is through the union, she emphasized.

      CLUW National Executive Vice-President Dee Gorczyca (IFPTE) (standing 2nd from left in photo) spoke about the upcoming national CLUW convention and introduced CLUW Special Assistant to the President Carolyn Jacobson (standing far right in photo) who discussed CLUW’s women’s heart health campaign “Spread the Word”. 

      Julian Brunne (CWA) addressed “How Wall Street Fees Impact Our Communities.”

      To underscore the importance of blood pressure awareness and the relationship of an individual’s numbers to heart health, a nurse, Helene Townsend, (seated on right in photo) was there to take participants’ blood pressure.

      NJ CLUW State President Darlene Smith (AFT) (standing at left in photo) welcomed everyone to the conference and served as conference chair. NJ CLUW Treasurer Karen Bellamy Lewis (IFPTE) (standing third from left in photo) gave the wrap up, noting the practical value of the presentations and expressing her hope that each sister would take what they learned at the program and use it back in their respective workplace. (Also pictured: Michele Vickers (CWA) Chapter Vice Pres. standing 2nd from right).  More images are available in the photo gallery.

      On June 4th CLUW National Vice President (IAFF), Michele Newby, and Missouri CLUW State President, Chere Chaney (pictured below, left to right),were among Union Sisters and Brothers from all across Labor standing by Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, as he signed the VETO for ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council) so-called “Right to Work” legislation.  Nixon said “For generations, the ability of workers to join together and bargain collectively for fair wages and training has lifted the living standards of families everywhere both union and non-union”.     

      The Missouri House passed the bill by a 92-66 vote and the Senate vote was 21-13, It is anticipated that there will be an effort to garner enough votes to override the governor's veto in September. For more information about the bill please click here.

      Michele Newby expressed her feelings this way: "A great day for Missouri Unions!"

      Today in Philly Labor

      “Mentorship is really important, however, you can’t necessarily expect that mentorship is going to magically appear in your life,” says Dina Yarmus (UNITE HERE), chair, Young Women’s Committee and executive committee member of Philadelphia CLUW. Dina made these observations as a guest on “Today in Philly Labor,” a radio talk show, on May 20.  Philadelphia CLUW has a monthly slot on the show.

      Carolyn Jacobson, special assistant to the president, at national CLUW, joined Dina by phone on this show. Carolyn is also secretary-treasurer of the Berger-Marks Foundation which offers free materials on mentoring. She noted that Dina’s words illustrate why the foundation created materials specifically focused on formal (also known an intentional) mentoring programs. 

      Carolyn underscored what Dina said about informal mentoring, noting that women and minorities often are not lucky enough to have access to a mentor. “Our materials allow unions – and labor groups, such as CLUW -- to create and implement formal mentoring programs – which are open to all members. Our materials provide everything that is needed for an accountable and sustainable program,” she said.

      Reflecting on her own experience, Dina explained that being in a mentoring relationship has allowed her to do more than “just complain or vent (which are important, she notes, but can be done with friends, family).”  The big difference, she points out, is that “my mentor (allows me to) reflect back and actually challenges me and helps me think through what needs to happen, what I have to think about, to understand and do better next time – almost like a coach of a sports team.  He or she holds me to a higher standard and thinks about what’s the big picture or what’s the next step…Mentorship is a skill.”

      CLUW, at its September 2014 National Executive Board meeting, adopted a resolution on mentoring, urging chapters to use the Berger-Marks materials to create these programs. 

      The Berger-Marks Foundation exists to bring the benefits of unionization to working women and to assist organizations committed to those principles.  Visit their site here for additional resources.

      To listen to the podcast click here.  Go to 1 hour, 13 minute mark for the beginning of this segment.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women
      Participants Attended Workshops on Racism, Community Engagement and Paid Leave Campaigns and Reproductive Rights Battles in the States.

      About 100 CLUW delegates and observers met in Jacksonville, Florida to set CLUW’s agenda for the remainder of the year through committee meetings, workshops and plenary sessions from April 8-11th. Planning occurred around CLUW’s upcoming 18th Biennial Convention scheduled to take place in Sacramento, CA from November 18- 21st.  
      President Leak revved up the group by emphasizing in her report, “Remember, as we educate and encourage women to move into the seats at the table, that we are the decision makers! Our theme for the 2015 convention is: "Women: Right Time, Right Now!" This is the time to step out and step into our destiny!”

      NEB approves convention committee co-chairs

      We were pleased to be greeted by State President Patty White and Florida First Coast Chapter President Shirley Thomas.  In addition Russell Harper, President, North Florida Central Labor Council and Doris Orr-Richardson, President APWU, Florida State spoke to those assembled (see photo). Read more here.

  • August 02, 2015
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