On September 22nd, thousands of organizations supported National Voter Registration Day by holding events across the country. National Voter Registration Day, celebrated on the fourth Tuesday in September every year, is aimed at raising awareness for voter registration, and encouraging every American to be registered to vote in time for the next election. The goal is to reach hundreds of thousands of new voters who wouldn’t have voted otherwise. Over 600 voter registration events took place nationwide this year.
CLUW members took to the streets to register voters. Sarah Reynolds, CLUW Vice President (American Transit Union (ATU)), along with Francine Bidgell and her local chapter members, set up a booth outside of Naylord Road Shopping Center in Southeast Washington, DC. The booth also included CLUW pamphlets, informational brochures, buttons, bags, and other paraphernalia. “The area was made up of a lot of people not registered, but they were very receptive and glad that we came,” Sarah remarked. Not only was the event successful, but some people even showed an interest in CLUW.
Standing L to R: Francine Bidgell and Sarah Reynolds with a newly registered voter.
At the Westside Farmer’s Market in Rochester, NY, a voter registration table was set up and managed by President Kendall Bell and Treasurer Evelyn Evans of the Rochester Finger-Lakes CLUW Chapter, both from the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers – Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA).
Thank you to everyone that went out and supported the campaign. If you are a CLUW member who participated in a National Voter Registration Day event, please send documentation of the event –photos, the names and location of those who participated, and a short description of what occurred - to Carol Rosenblatt at email@example.com. We would love to highlight you as well!
On a bright sunny morning on September 16, 2015, over 50 civil rights, community, labor and religious organizations including CLUW came together for Voters Rights at the America’s Journey for Justice Legislative Advocacy Day Rally at Senate Park in Washington, DC. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sponsored the rally, giving thanks to all of those that came to show support. With them were the marchers of America’s Journey for Justice, a 1,002 mile journey from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC. Marchers moved through the country, to find out what problems communities are facing and to bring them to DC where decisions are made. The goal of the rally was to urge Congress to pass The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015.
The keynote speaker, NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, gave an emotionally-charged speech, acknowledging those that participated in or completed America’s Journey for Justice and calling out Congress, asking, “If you’re asking for our vote, why can’t you commit to protect the right?”
Several Senators and House Representatives addressed those assembled, including Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative Terri Sewell, and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, all speaking in favor of the bill and asking other members of Congress to step up and support.
The AFL-CIO, CWA and AFT (AFT President and CLUW member Randi Weingarten is pictured at the podium) also conveyed their support.
When the rally concluded those who wished to, marched to the Senate with petitions.
In honor of Labor Day, Union Plus President Leslie Tolf reached out to prominent women in the labor force, discussing the importance of Labor Day and what it means to them, as well as their thoughts on the future movement. With her in this discussion were these women labor leaders:
♦Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO
♦Cindy Estrada, Vice President, UAW
♦Karen Nussbaum, Executive Director, Working America
♦Rachel Bryan, Community Liaison, IBEW Local 595
Questions included: “Why is Labor Day still important?” “What is the most important thing in 2015 for workers’ rights for women?” and “Do you think that the labor movement and all of its principles are adequately represented and discussed in today’s media and popular culture?”
“We need to take away that myth that labor was needed during the ‘bad old days’ and not needed today. Labor is still vital today. It's important to have time off to take care of your family and to have safety in the workplace -- all those same issues that my grandmother had. ... I'm a product of the labor movement -- my father, uncle and grandmother, a single mother who was able to raise her family and provide because of her union status. I believe that we cannot have free society without the ability to bargain. With a CEO to worker pay ratio of 300:1--the world should have the ability to bargain," stated Cindy Estrada.
Liz Shuler added, “If you think about all the work that goes into every aspect of your day -- whether it's the cashier at the bakery, the barista at the coffee shop; […] the security officer at the front desk who makes your building safe; or the power lineman delivering electricity to your home -- their work makes our work possible. Take the time to consciously say ‘thank you’ to those people....
Raising women's wages not only helps women and families, but helps our entire economy. There are a lot of campaigns happening right now focused on raising wages in industries that are dominated by women who are the majority of low wage workers. Campaigns like Fight for $15, OUR Walmart, homecare workers. Their fight to organize and countless others will help raise wages for working women and provide them with a better quality of life."
They all agreed that the most important thing in 2015 for workers’ rights for women was equal pay and collective bargaining power.
Karen Nussbaum’s call-to-action for the millennials in the workforce was to “band together, take the moral high ground and fight for [your] future in organizations [you] control through [your] dues and [your] vote.”
Rachel Bryan touched on the “sharing economy” and its effect on the labor movement:
“The Sharing Economy is a misnomer like Right-to-Work, which is the right to get paid less. Yes, it creates greater access to goods and service but at what cost? […] Does the Uber driver have health insurance? Are they making a living wage?”
Rachel further elaborated, explaining, “Cheap labor and goods creates wealth for the tech companies and does little to nothing for their temporary, low-wage workers. This impacts the labor movement because we already do many of the jobs that the "sharing economy" is watering down. But, we do these jobs at a living wage and with integrity so that our families can live and thrive.”
You can read Leslie Tolf’s full article at the HuffingtonPost by clicking here.
July 30th, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Since 1965, Medicare has provided seniors with affordable high-quality healthcare. It’s a nod to those who have spent their lifetime helping progress the nation, and gives assurance to those retirees that they won’t have to worry about expensive medical bills or getting the care they need.
Honoring Medicare with a National Day of Action, CLUW members took part in celebrations across the country, with the theme “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.” The celebration called for protecting Medicare from policymakers who threatened to cut funding, improving Medicare by including dental plans and certain prescriptions, thus making it more affordable, and expanding Medicare coverage to those of all ages with no exceptions, advocating the passage of national single payer legislation, H.R.676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. The H.R.676 Bill would provide free universal healthcare for all U.S. citizens inclusive of costs related to medical care.
In DC, Judy Beard, APWU Retirees Director and CLUW Treasurer, spoke to a crowd at the 50 Medicare rally in front of the US Capitol, stating, “Today’s 50th anniversary of Medicare is not just a moment, it is a movement. We need to protect, improve and expand Medicare.”
Judy Beard (APWU) speaks at a Medicare rally in DC.
In Detroit, members from the Metro-Detroit Chapter spent the whole day celebrating: lobbying legislators about H.R.676, hosting a rally at the Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, and concluding with a celebratory program at UAW Local 600.
CLUW members Tijuana Morris (DPOA), Metro-Detroit CLUW Executive Committee, Millie Hall (OPEIU), President of Metro-Detroit CLUW, and Sara Wallenfang, Communications Director of Michigan Nurses Association promoting the 50th Anniversary of Medicare events at a retiree meeting at UAW Local 22.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also made a statement which you can read here.
What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women
“As part of its commitment to empower union women, CLUW provides its members with health information. To assist us in tailoring that information, we created a short survey with one of our Spread the Word campaign partners, HealthyWomen,“ announces CLUW President Connie Leak.
President Leak explains the survey results will allow HealthyWomen to work with CLUW to provide CLUW members with the health information they want on a regular basis, delivered via the communication format/s they prefer.
The short survey (which is going out via “Survey Monkey”) is called Getting to Know You and Your Health Needs: Audience Survey for Women. You can access it here.
HealthyWomen will work with CLUW to compile the aggregate survey results and implement an action plan, which will be presented at the CLUW Convention in November.
As an incentive to fill out the survey, HealthyWomen will be holding a drawing for a $100 gift card that every woman completing the survey can enter to win.
President Leak adds “ Many thanks for answering the survey, which will take no more than five minutes. We hope that all CLUW Sisters will take the survey and that each of you will also bring it to the attention of union women who are not yet CLUW members and ask them to respond. CLUW wants all U.S. union women to know about CLUW and that we are interested in what they have to tell us.”