Coalition of Labor Union Women
    • ATLANTA (PAI)—AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. labor movement, is challenging her colleagues to promote more women to top jobs.

      Working women, the labor movement, the voting public and President Barack Obama (D) all “get it” on working women's and family issues, she told the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Atlanta on February 25.  Those issues include paid sick days and child care, equal pay for equal work and fair work schedules.
      But “we haven’t done a good job of selling ourselves as a movement that gets it,” Shuler said.  And that starts with a lack of leaders.
      Shuler pointed out that women head only seven of the nation’s 51 state labor federations, and that women hold 31 percent of “secondary offices” in those bodies. Though she did not say so, few women head the federation’s unions.
      The most-prominent are AFT’s Randi Weingarten, other AFT leaders and the four co-presidents of National Nurses United, along with its executive director, Roseann DeMoro, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill and AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes.
      So organized labor “has a lot of work to do” in representing women, Shuler said.  She’s the sole woman among the AFL-CIO’s top three leaders.
      "And let’s just think about it,” she added.  “In all likelihood, for the presidential election, we’ll endorse one woman or another.  We need to catch up.”  The leader among Democratic presidential hopefuls is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
      But Shuler also admitted the women’s movement has a blind spot: Women of color.  The labor movement can fill that gap, she said.
      “We have a unique opportunity to be the place where all women – across class, race and immigration status – can come together and make the case for fair treatment and a fair economy” through collective action, organizing and winning union contracts, she said.
      “So let’s use our Raising Wages campaign to do more than message issues.  Let’s use it to connect with people and move them to action.  Especially women.  All women,” she urged.
      Men now head both U.S. labor federations: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Teamsters President James Hoffa at Change To Win.  Lilly Eskelsen-Garcia heads the independent 3.2-million-member National Education Association – the nation’s other teachers’ union – while Mary Kay Henry heads the 2.2-million member Service Employees, part of CTW.  Colleen Kelley heads the independent Treasury Employees.                       
      The above story was published in the 2/27/15 early edition of Press Associates Union News Service, Mark Gruenberg, editorr.                  

      For American Heart Month, CLUW is proud to support Spread the Word, an awareness campaign for women about the overlooked symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD) and testing options that keep our cardiovascular needs in mind.

      Why should I care?

      Coronary artery disease (CAD), or build-up of plaque in the heart arteries, kills more women than all cancers combined, with one woman dead every minute. As your age increases, so does your likelihood of having CAD.

      Could you have coronary artery disease?

      The symptoms of CAD in women can be difficult to diagnose because our bodies are different than men’s.  We tend to experience milder and less obvious symptoms like heartburn, dizziness, back pain or palpitations, with chest pain not always being in the picture. Assess your risk for CAD here.

      Talk to your healthcare provider about testing options

      Some tests for CAD can perform less accurately in women and may come with risks and side effects, like radiation exposure or bleeding complications. Learn about your testing options so that you, with your clinician’s guidance, can get to the heart of your symptoms quickly and safely.

      Spread the Word

      Every woman deserves the right care. Early diagnosis can save lives – our own and the lives of the women we love. Help us Spread the Word:

      1. Like us on Facebook and make sure the women in your life are also informed

      2. Learn more at

      Augusta Thomas: CLUW Member, Civil and Labor Rights Leader

      Augusta currently is AFGE's national vice president for women and fair practices. She is a lifelong civil rights activist, honored labor leader and a loving mother and great-great-grandmother.

      As leader in her local union, Thomas served as treasurer, secretary, chief steward, executive vice-president and president. In recognition of her work to promote racial equality and economic development, the commonwealth of Kentucky has declared April 4 as Augusta Thomas Day. AFGE’s 6th District also has developed the Augusta Thomas Humanitarian Award in her honor.  More information about this amazing woman is available here.
      The AFL-CIO is conducting a poster contest. You can win one of 100 Black History Month posters by texting the code “BLACK” (for Black History Month) to 235246.


      Sisters and Brothers

      The Coalition of Labor Union Women is proud to join with more than 60 national organizations forming A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service.

      The United States Postal Service is a national treasure, serving more than 150 million households and businesses each day. It provides affordable mail service to everyone – rich and poor, no matter how remotely located they might be.

      But that tremendous service to our communities and crucial postal jobs are threatened by those who want to profit from this great public institution being dismantled.

      You can make a difference right now. Please sign the pledge to protect the public Postal Service. You’ll be part of the fight to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now and for many generations to come.

      Please take two minutes to watch this video starring actor-activist Danny Glover sharing his personal story about the importance of the Postal Service.

      Then share the video and the Grand Alliance statement on Facebook, Twitter, and with your personal email lists. Encourage your friends and associates to do the same, and know that you have made a difference to protect this beloved American institution.

      In solidarity,

      Connie Leak

      By a 14-2 vote Philadelphia City Council passed a Paid Sick Leave Bill on February 12th that will enable employees in companies with 10 or more employees to accrue one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked, for a maximum of five days per year.  Mayor Michael Nutter signed the bill into law a few hours after its passage after vetoing 2 earlier versions.  The Philadelphia CLUW Chapter was part of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces which waged a seven year battle for paid sick leave in Philadelphia, the second largest city in the country to gain this benefit.  The law will go into effect in 90 days.

      Kathy Black, Philadelphia CLUW Chapter Treasurer commented, "Philly CLUW is proud to have been a major organizational player in the campaign from the beginning, and we couldn't be more delighted to finally see this day arrive."  Read more here.

      Pictured above l-r are two heroes of the campaign Marianne Bellesorte, of Pathways PA, the leader of the broad coalition from the beginning and Bill Greenlee, who championed this bill through City Council. Kathy Black, Treasurer Phila CLUW is at far right.

      CLUW National Executive Board to meet April 8th-11th in Jacksonville, FL

      The National Executive Board will meet April 8-11, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Jacksonville - Riverfront, 1201 Riverplace Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207 (904.398.8800). Please take note of the working agenda.
      Guest rooms are $119.00 plus tax single/double and include complimentary wireless internet.
      Additional Charges:

      -There is a $10 charge for each additional adult over 2 adults per room.

      -There is a $20 charge for a guaranteed riverfront room.

      -Self-parking: $10.00 per day; Valet parking: $18 per day.

      Make your hotel reservations by clicking here CLUW Booking Link (no code necessary) or by calling:

      Crowne Plaza Worldwide Reservations
      Crowne Plaza Worldwide can be reached 24 hours a day
      Crowne Plaza Worldwide:   800.2CROWNE (227.6963)
      The group code is CLQ or ask for the CLUW 2015 Meeting.
      Map and directions

      Airport Transportation:

      Taxi from the hotel is: approximately $45
      Go Shuttle: approximately $28 per person: 904.353.8880
      Car service (mention Nick from Crowne Plaza as referral): 904.236.1917 $48 per car holding up to 3 passengers
      Deadline for hotel reservations and CLUW registration: March 16th
      You can access a copy of the registration form here.
      All CLUW members are welcome to attend as observers.

      Every summer, the United Association of Labor Education (UALE) sponsors four regional “women’s schools.”  These residential programs typically last between 4-5 days and include classes and workshops on a variety of union-related topics. Women from all over the country and beyond learn the skills and knowledge needed to play leadership roles in their unions.  One of the most valuable aspects of the schools is the chance to meet and network with union women from around the region and beyond. This summer is the 38th year that these schools are being offered.

      Below is the listing of the schools scheduled to date and contact information.  When we have the place and dates of the Southern School, we will share it with you.

      2015 Summer Schools

      The 2015 Western Regional Institute for Union Women will take place on the Reed College Campus in Portland, OR, from June 23-27. The Coordinator is Barbara Byrd, University of Oregon LERC. Download a Save-the-Date flyer here: 2015 Western SIUW Save the Date.

      The Northeast Union Women’s Summer School will be hosted by the Labor School at Penn State and held at the Penn State University Park Campus in State College, PA.  Tentative dates for the program are July 25th-30th, 2015. For more information or to register contact Amy Dietz or Mary Bellman.

      The 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers will be held from Sunday July 19 through Thursday July 23, 2015 in Chicago, IL. The school will be hosted by the DePaul University Labor Education Center, and is being coordinated by Nora Kelley. Download the save the date flyer for the 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers here 2015 Midwest School for Women Workers Flyer.

      The Summit will be held in Chicago March 19-22, 2015. Details for the conference as well as registration and lodging information can be found at The summit will feature several keynote speakers and interactive workshops that will help to build unity and solidarity among young union members and promote an understanding of why the labor movement remains the most effective vehicle to advancing the causes of social and economic justice in our state and nation.

      Seated: Teresa C. Younger, CEO and President, Ms. Foundation; standing l-r Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary - Treasurer, AFL-CIO, Sonya Underwood, Board Member, 9to5 Atlanta, Erica Thomas, Georgia House of Representative-Elect, Connie Leak, President, CLUW

      On January 16th in Atlanta CLUW President, Connie Leak served as Town Hall meeting moderator posing some thought provoking questions to a panel of diverse and accomplished women: Teresa C. Younger, CEO and President, Ms. Foundation;  Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO, Sonya Underwood, Board Member, 9to5 Atlanta and Erica Thomas, Georgia House of Representative-Elect.

      Even though women make up 50 percent of the workforce and are frequently breadwinners and caregivers, their issues are not seen as primary to a progressive economic agenda.The Town Hall panelists made a number of contributions to this observation.

      Sister Shuler commented that women need to be at every level of the labor movement in increasing numbers but we need to rejigger the work to reflect work life balance if we want to attract women.  She also said that mentoring is very important as it is known that women need to be asked seven times before stepping up and considering a leadership position.  So recruitment and retention go hand in hand in supporting women in leadership positions.

      Ms. Underwood from 9to5 said that women need to step out of their comfort zone.  She did it and so can others.  She is currently one woman in a class of 32 following a non traditional education track on aviation technology.

      Representative Thomas advised women who lobby to be knowledgeable about  their issues and to be persistent in following up.  She cited some of the issues that she feels are important in a women's agenda are raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, paid family leave and the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

      Ms. Younger remarked that we need to stop celebrating half a step and insist on increasing women's representation by one third across the board.  She said that, " It is better to act and apologize than to not act at all."

      Participants in the audience contributed to the discussion through comments and questions of the panel.

      CLUW sisters attending the Town Hall included r-l Carla Insinga, CLUW VP AFSCME
      and Helen Elliott, President of CLUW Central PA Chapter.


      Connie Leak, Moderator

      l-r Vera Newton, Jean Hervey, Helen Gonzales, Judy Beard, Connie Leak and Irasema Garza.

      On January 17th in Atlanta CLUW President Connie Leak served as moderator for the CLUW sponsored workshop: Job Openings: Recruiting and Supporting Women for Leadership Positions.

      Women in leadership positions, including the political arena and their union, contribute to the vitality and future of labor unions, government and the communities in which they live, yet women still have a long way to go  Those present grappled with this concern and engaged in a lively dialogue.
      Jean Hervey, Vice President, Workers United/SEIU shared that she knew nothing about unions as a young worker; she was befriended by a woman in the shop who recognized her potential and supported her. She ran unopposed as Legislative Reporter at her first union meeting.  Then she was on her way.

      Vera Newton, President, Derby City CLUW Chapter described, as a young single parent that she knew she could only manage to attend union meetings (CWA and UAW) by bringing her son along with snacks and materials to keep him occupied.  She strongly encouraged other mothers to do the same when dealing with questions of work/life balance.

      Irasema Garza, attorney advocate and consultant at La Raza spoke about the need for systemic change, using her experience as a former Director of AFSCME's Women's Department as an example. She set up women’s leadership training offering 2 courses - one in organizing and the other in political action.  Leadership opportunities were more likely after being educated in these areas as they were central to the union’s mission.

      The workshop sessions (workshop ran twice) were filled to capacity with 60 in attendance each time. You can see some of the attendees by the pictures 2015 January 17, MLK Jr. Conference Workshop Attendees.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women

      Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most women now have coverage for well-women visits, without additional costs like co-pays and deductibles. But how can they make the most of this benefit? One of CLUW’s allied organizations, the National Women's Law Center has outstanding resources and information to help you learn more about this critical benefit and also to get the word out about the no-cost well-woman visit. Regular well-woman visits could be a turning point for women’s health — but only if women know about and make the most of them.

      Check out their consumer-friendly guides, available in English and Spanish, and get on the road to being a well woman.

  • March 05, 2015
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    Upcoming Events
    AFL-CIO Young Worker Summit
    Mar 19, 2015
    Hilton Chicago 720 South Michigan Ave Chicago, IL
    CLUW NEB Meeting
    Apr 08, 2015
    Crowne Plaza Hotel Jacksonville - Riverfront Jacksonville, FL
    Equal Pay Day
    Apr 14, 2015
    UALE 2015 Western Regional Institute for Union Women
    Jun 23, 2015
    Reed College Campus in Portland, OR
    2015 UALE Midwest School for Women Workers
    Jul 19, 2015
    Chicago, IL.
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