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.
Fifty women college students interning at affiliates of the National Council of Women's Organizations (progressive non-profits) in Washington, DC participated this summer in NCWO’s “New Faces, More Voices” intern workshop series, coordinated by the Feminist Majority. The second session of eight was entitled “Women and the Labor Movement” .
When asked how many of the participants were familiar with the labor movement only two of fifty raised their hands.
Berger-Marks Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Jacobson (who is also the special assistant to the president at CLUW), served as facilitator of this session, noting: Read more here:
On August 26, 1920, women gained the right to vote. Today marks the 95th anniversary of that historic day. It put us one step closer to our goal of equality for all women. But the fight is far from over. Almost a century later, we still struggle to find equality in the workforce. The pay gap currently sits at 78 cents per dollar of our male counterparts. But CLUW is working to change that.
“CLUW has always been in the forefront of the fight for equity and equality! We fight for all women. In this day and age, women should be able to be breadwinners; able to provide economically for their families and their future through their income alone.” - President Connie Leak
According to an August 2015 publication by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “The Union Advantage for Women”, women who are represented by labor unions earn 88.7 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a considerably higher earnings ratio than the earnings ratio between all women and men in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015c).” Unions give strength and confidence. Women who are a part of a union are more likely to participate in a pension plan, receive health benefits from their job, and have the confidence to discuss their wage with their employers. Unions help employers set fair wages based on objective criteria instead of discriminatory ones.
ATU Local 689 delivered the first 500 signatures of their petition to Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's office on Thursday, July 9th demanding a reform of the DC streetcar project, and that fired workers be rehired. “The streetcar has been under construction since 2009, and in that time about one-third of its workers have been fired. Although the company stated various reasons, one thing the workers had in common was that they had all signed union cards,” said David Stephen of Local 689. The streetcar’s construction was outsourced to a private company, and despite the lack of progress and the union busting, Mayor Bowser’s office allotted an additional $5.5 million to the project in early July. “Private companies are not accountable to the citizens or the voters,” said Stephen, who emphasized that the union is continuing to circulate petitions and demand that the fired workers be rehired with backpay. Among the attendees were Sarah Reynolds, CLUW Vice President (ATU), President Jos Williams, of the Metro-Washington Council AFL-CIO, and DC JwJ Executive Director Nikki Lewis.
Pictured L to R: Sharon Boone (ATU), David Stephen, Sarah Reynolds, unidentified supporter and Nikki Lewis.
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.
What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women
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.