l-r; Elise Bryant, Denisha Dean, Lalli Castillo, Lynn Marie Smith, Aurora Bihler. Natasha Isma (rear)
On a bright, sunny May 4th CLUW members and friends rallied outside the AFL-CIO Building in downtown Washington, DC as young sisters told their stories, chanted and called for real change, real soon! President Bryant made it clear that, ”We are 51% of the population and we will be 51% of union leadership and ……our place is in the White House.” Recognizing the next generation as the future of labor, Denisha Dean, 28 years old, an APWU local president and CLUW Los Angeles Chapter member came to the podium with the chant of “ Join Us For The Long Run, The Union Is For Everyone”. She described her experience of winning the presidency of her local by 13% in spite of having her motherhood, skin color and age questioned. But she realized, ”This is my time, why not me, why not here?!”
Aurora Bihler of the Iron Workers in St. Louis, MO recounted what a woman has to face in non-traditional jobs including ill fitting gloves and a wrong sized safety harness. She said that, “Women in the building trades deserve to have a safe pregnancy … and “if the Iron Workers can do it your union can too.”
Lalli Castillo, IBEW, “ a young worker, an electrician, a mother, proud union member, dreamer and activist” described how “being a union member, having equal pay makes me realize what I have, but also what others' don’t have… I want all women to get paid dollar for dollar..”
Natasha Isma, AFSCME DC 37, New York City, reminded the crowd that, “It’s important that your unions are supporting younger workers…Young people are not to be excluded from the labor movement because this is our time ….we need to step up to the plate because we are ready to lead.”
Jaida Jenkins Curtis, 20 year old Asst. to the CLUW President, next performed a special hip hop dance to Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless” for its empowerment and uplifting message.
Lynn Marie Smith (AMU,) Motown Diva ended the rally by leading the crowd in an enthusiastic union rendition of Uptown Funk.
The full rally can be seen and heard on CLUW's Face book page (thanks to Tanya Hutchins (IAM) video).
MCs: Rachel Walthall (CLUW VP, APWU) and Rachel Bryan (CLUW VP, IBEW)
Denisha Dean with crowd