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  • CLUW Mourns the passing of Gloria Tapscott Johnson
    Updated On: Feb 25, 2019

    Coalition of Labor Union Women Obituary and Tribute to Gloria Tapscott Johnson

    (10/28/27 – 2/13/13)

    It is with a very heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of our beloved sister, friend, mentor and founding member of CLUW, Gloria T. Johnson, President Emerita (IUE/CWA) who passed away on February 13, 2013  while at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Maryland.

    Gloria Johnson was a lifetime women’s, labor and civil rights leader. She joined the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers in 1954 as a bookkeeper.  For many years she served as the elected chair of the IUE Women’s Council and was the Director of IUE’s Social Acton Department and a member of the Executive Board.  Before her retirement from the IUE-CWA in 2004 she was the Women’s Activities Coordinator.

    She served as President of CLUW from 1993 until 2004 and prior to being elected president was CLUW’s treasurer for seventeen years.

    In 1993, Ms. Johnson was elected a Vice President of the AFL-CIO, the second African-American woman to hold that position, retiring in 2005. As Vice President she served on the Women’s Committee of the International Conference of Free Trade Unions and was Chair of the Standing Committee on Women’s Issues.

    Sister Johnson was President of the Labor Coalition for Community Action, an organization composed of the six constituency groups of the AFL-CIO from 2004-2010.

    "Gloria Johnson was a giant in the Labor Movement,” current CLUW President Karen J. See said.  “She was strong and not afraid to go after what she thought women needed.  She was very kind and supportive of me personally. Her passing is a great loss to the Coalition of Labor Union Women and to the entire Labor Movement.  We will miss her wisdom, her great insight and most of all her friendship."

    Exemplifying her commitment, in 1996 Sister Johnson spoke at a rally outside the Democratic National Convention and said, “We in CLUW believe that women have the basic right to live free from violence and to choose when and if we bear children.” In May 2000 as part of CLUW’s Working Women’s Awareness Week she advised,

     “Candidates need to address pay equity if they want to win the votes of working women who will be a deciding factor on Election Day.”

    During her years with CLUW, Gloria Johnson worked tirelessly for advancing equality for women and minorities in the workplace and in society, as well as for equal access to economic opportunities.  Under her tenure, CLUW focused on issues such as women’s and children’s health care, family and medical leave, labor law reform, sweatshops, workers’ and human rights, voter education and participation, organizing and political education and equal pay. Under her leadership CLUW was a vocal advocate for women’s health education, HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive rights, domestic violence education, contraceptive equity and cervical cancer prevention. She was a recognized world labor leader and traveled across the globe to help improve wages, working conditions and the dignity to women and workers.

    From hosting conferences on breaking the glass ceiling, health care, women and children, women in the global economy, voter participation and others, to publishing a wealth of information on a variety of women’s economic and health security issues, Sister Johnson advanced CLUW’s agenda for working women.

    Ms. Johnson represented the American Labor Movement around the world.  In 1977, she was one of 18 U.S. union women selected to participate in a three-week study of childcare services in Israel, France and Sweden.  In 1979, she was one of six U.S. union women selected to participate in women’s conferences in Central and South America.  In 1984 and 85, she represented the American Labor Movement in conferences in West Berlin and Madrid, Spain. In July 1985 she was part of a CLUW delegation to the Women Workers Department of the Union Nationale Des Travailleurs Du Zaire in Kinshasa, Republic of Zaire.  Her travels abroad for the labor movement have also taken her to Taiwan, Japan, Belgium, Haiti, Brazil, Slovakia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic speaking to trade union women and men on issues of special concern to women.

    Among the many awards recognizing her exceptional contribution to the labor movement and civil and women’s rights are the Operation PUSH Award for Outstanding Women in the Labor Movement, the 1981 Economic Equity Award from Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) for outstanding achievement in the Labor Movement, the 1985 award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for her work for human rights, the A. Philip Randolph Institute 1994 Achievement Award, 1995 Wise Women Award presented by the Center for Women’s Policy Studies and in 1995, the NAACP first Annual Pathway to Excellence Award “Women of Labor.”  In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History.  In 1999 she received the Eugene V. Debs Award in Labor. In 2000, she received the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Labor Leader “Nation Builders” Award and the National Committee on Pay Equity Winn Newman Award.  She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the National Labor College.

    Ms. Johnson was born in Washington, DC and graduated from Howard University.  She was happily married to Dr. David F. Johnson (deceased) for many years and had two children, daughter Toni, and son David (deceased), and one grandchild, David Johnson III. She has three siblings: John, William and Spencer. She came from a close knit family and enjoyed her many nieces, nephews, great nieces/nephews and great, great nieces and nephews.

    The funeral will be held Tuesday, February 19, 2013:

    Peoples Community Baptist Church

    31 Norwood Road

    Silver Spring, Maryland

    Viewing:  9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

    Service:   11:00 a.m.

    Burial will be at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, Maryland

    Cards/condolences may be sent to Gloria’s daughter:

    Toni Peterson

    6706 Edgemere Drive

    Camp Springs, Maryland  20748

    Please check the website at  for information about charitable donations and plans for a memorial service.

    Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with our dear sister’s family at this time of sorrow.  She will be in our hearts forever.

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