Coalition of Labor Union Women

    • 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.

      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.


      The 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference is being held Jan. 15th thru 19th in Atlanta at the Westin Peachtree Plaza.  Present from the CLUW Delegation are Connie Leak, CLUW President, Bennie Bridges, National CLUW Vice President (AFGE) and Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director.  This photo was tweeted by Tanya Hutchins.

      January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Designation of the month by the U.S. Congress creates an opportunity for organizations committed to preventing cancers caused by HPV (Human papilloma virus) – including CLUW --  to get information to their members on how to prevent cervical cancer, as well as other cancers caused by a lingering high-risk HPV virus, which includes cancer of the vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, as well as most genital warts – all caused by HPV.

      Gardasil (which is approved for females ages 9 through 26 and for males ages 9 through 15) now offers an improved vaccine (Gardasil 9) that has the potential to prevent about 90% of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, as well as prevent  most genital warts caused by HPV. Gardasil 9 adds protection against five additional HPV types—which cause approximately 20 percent of cervical cancers and are not covered by previously FDA-approved HPV vaccines. Three doses of the vaccine are required for maximum protection The vaccine is covered under the Affordable Care Act. See FDA news release on Gardisil 9

      CLUW’s commitment to raising cervical cancer awareness dates back to creation of its Cervical Cancer Prevention Works Project.  Although the project no longer exists, through its Women's Health and Wellness Committee, CLUW continues to carry on the project's mission of empowering union women by providing them with information on how to prevent cervical cancer and other HPV-caused cancers. 

      In short, women need to know the following:

      -Age 9-26:  Ask your provider about the HPV vaccine

      -By age 21:  Get a Pap test

      -Age 30 and up:  Ask your provider for an HPV test along with your Pap

      Click here for additional information and Cervical Cancer Awareness Month resources, including a fact sheet 10 Things to Know about HPV and Cervical Cancer.

      CLUW encourages chapters and members to copy and use these materials, including putting up posters on union bulletin boards.

      l-r Wendy Burgess, AFSCME, Carolyn Jacobson and Carol Rosenblatt, CLUW and Barbara Coufal, AFSCME.

      On December 3rd the Supreme Court was asked to rule on whether Peggy Young, a former UPS driver should have been afforded the protection of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which bars firms from discriminating against pregnant workers. Young was forced to take unpaid leave during a difficult pregnancy when the company refused to give her light duty per her doctors' orders and then terminated her health insurance.

      Young sued, saying UPS broke the law.  The lower courts supported the company as UPS' paid disability leave policy does not offer paid leave if you are injured off the job  However Young claimed that UPS still aided other male drivers injured off the job.  So Young, backed by unions – including the Teamsters, which represents UPS workers and CLUW –  and women's rights groups, took her case to the High Court.  

      While the argument was taking place inside the Court, CLUW joined with its allies outside (including the IAM, AFSCME, the National Consumers League, the National Partnership for Women and Families, NOW, Planned Parenthood) in support of Young. In a rare coalition, evangelicals and pro-life groups agreed that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act means firms must accommodate pregnant workers.   

      The court’s decision will not be announced until the close of the term in May or June. 

      Read more about this at the AFL-CIO Blog and view the IAM Video of the rally.

      Philadelphia Chapter CLUW President Laura Wentz, Dina Yarmus, Young Women's Committee Chair and Executive Board Members Nicole Fuller and Vanessa Fields all contributed to this special airing of the concerns of working women in Philadelphia.

      The show was dedicated to Joyce Craig-Lewis, the 36 year old firefighter and mother of two who is the first female member of the Philadelphia Fire Department to die in the line of duty. Read more by clicking here.   CLUW has long recognized the hazardous work of our sisters in non-traditional jobs through the Women in Non-Traditional Jobs Committee.  

      Listen to the full broadcast by clicking here

      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.

  • January 30, 2015
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