Coalition of Labor Union Women


      The final months of 2017 have brought mass national attention to an issue which has plagued working women for decades, that of workplace sexual harassment and assault that has come to be known as the #MeToo movement. Last night (January 7) the #TimesUP initiative gained notoriety at the Golden Globes Award telecast. Activists such as Sara Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United President and a speaker at CLUW’s recent Convention and Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance were invited guests, broadening the conversation to the large number of industries where women are subjected to this type of workplace violence.  The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund (administered by the National Women’s Law Center) will provide financial support for legal representation and public relations services for some individuals experiencing workplace sexual harassment or related retaliation.  

      Sexual harassment is an expression of power and CLUW is committed to putting our collective power to fight for real and measureable progress.

      CLUW’s Adopted Convention Resolution No. 17 states, “the workplace can be a critical place for responding to gender based violence and building systems that protect survivors of abuse.” Unfortunately most workplaces are not living up to the standard we demand. However, thanks largely to the brave women across industries who have been coming forward to boldly share their stories and seek justice, we could be in the middle of a welcome culture shift. With TIME magazine awarding “The Silence Breakers” its Person of The Year Award, profiling several determined union women in the process, the time is clearly ripe.

      In an article by the Washington Post, Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants who spoke at the 19th Biennial CLUW Convention, was asked along with fifteen other leading women in different industries to share what she thought was the most important next step towards ending the harassment in her field.  She pointed out, “The most effective thing that could be done now is a series of public service announcements from airline chief executives. It would be powerful to hear these men clearly and forcefully denounce the past objectification of flight attendants, reinforce our safety role as aviation’s first responders and pledge zero tolerance of sexual harassment and sexual assault at the airlines."  Read more here.

      Every year annual reports are required to be completed by CLUW chapter and state officers by March 31, 2018 in order to be in compliance with the CLUW Constitution.  The report booklet can be accessed and completed online by following the instructions under the Member Resources tab (CLUW Annual Report) on the right hand column of this website.  In order to access Member Resources you must register to become a website member (Register here).

      You must be a CLUW dues paying member in good standing to qualify. Dues renewal information is posted on the website under the Membership tab with online and hard copy application download available.

      All CLUW chartered Chapters will be holding elections for officers, board members, chapter National Executive Board delegate(s) and trustees by no later than March 31, 2018.  In order to vote in these elections or run for office you must be a member in good standing of both national CLUW and your chapter.  If you are unsure of your national membership status you may contact Jaida Curtis, Special Assistant to the President at or at 202-637-3901.  Please consult with your chapter president or treasurer for your chapter membership information. The list of current chapters can be viewed here.

      You can join or renew CLUW online or thru mail-in application by referring to the website:

      Mail-In Application

      Pay CLUW National Dues Online

      To check out the provisions governing elections please refer to the CLUW Constitution: Membership Article IV, Elections Article XI and Chapters Article XIII. The latest version of the constitution is available online under Members Resources on the right hand column of the website.  You must register to become a website member (see login right above the membership icon) and must be a dues paying member in good standing to qualify.

      On the first official day of the convention CLUW members from across the nation took the convention’s theme, “Women Taking it to the Streets,” to heart as they joined forces with the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United to rally for workers’ rights by supporting the One Fair Wage campaign.   

      Convention delegates and observers marched a few blocks from the convention site to the Spirit of Detroit statue chanting “Corporate Greed Has Got to Go” where they were joined by tipped workers, labor and community allies and women’s rights advocates calling for the elimination of the $2.13 per hour sub minimum wage for tipped workers unchanged since 1991.

      CLUW President Connie Leak, Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director of ROC United, Mark Dimondstein, President of APWU, Rick Blocker, President of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO and NaSheena Bland, a restaurant worker were some of those who fired up the crowd by reminding those present that 70% of tipped workers are women with servers more than twice as likely to live in poverty than the general workforce. Forty percent of tipped workers are single mothers feeding a family on $2.13 per hour in spite of restaurant owners trying to convince the public that restaurant workers are very young workers on their way to another career when most are in their late thirties.

      In addition, at a time when sexual harassment and assault are unfortunately current topics in the entertainment industry we cannot forget that the restaurant industry has the highest rates of sexual harassment complaints than any other industry. Tipped workers earning a subminimum wage are dependent on the generosity of customers for their income, rather than their employers. As a result, they must often tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers, and are vulnerable to sexual harassment from coworkers and managers.

      Rally speakers emphasized the importance of organizing as a community, recognizing the rally being the kick off for a Michigan ballot initiative calling for raising the state’s minimum wage to $12 coupled with the phasing out of the lower wage for tipped workers. Similar initiatives have proven successful in other states and have lessened the wage gap for women and decreased poverty rates for tipped workers in general.

      In the spirit of the ‘streets’ and through action on the convention floor CLUW delegates dedicated themselves to fight for economic fairness and justice for women and all workers.

      For more pictures of this rally check out the photo gallery and click here to watch a short video with more information about the One Fair Wage campaign.

      CLUW Members at the Rally


      Photo by, Desmond L. Weems-Ten Twenty-Two Productions
      2017 National Officers Council, seated l-r: Carolyn Burton, Joanne Sanders, Judy Beard, Elise Bryant, Carla Insinga, Bennie Bridges, Shelvy Young Abrams; standing: Janet Hill, Jennifer Grigsby, Angela Johnson, Shyla La'Sha, Rhonda Rogers, Lisa Blake, Debra Davis, Vera Newton, Sylvia Ramos, Myra Warren, Patricia Chardavoyne, Tanya James, Rachel Walthall, Karen Bellamy Lewis, (Sarah Reynolds and Rachel Bryan not pictured).

      Detroit, MI -- Elise Bryant is the new CLUW National President. Convention delegates elected her to a four year term on September 8th.  She is CLUW’s eighth president.  She noted that, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve the membership of CLUW as president. I am excited about taking on this work with a fabulous group of women who are smart, savvy, and dedicated trade unionists! We shall rally, we shall sing and we shall overcome – together!” 

      Elise joined CWA/TNG Local 32035 in 1998 and served as the bargaining unit chair at the National Labor College for eight years.  She serves on TNG’s executive board as a member-at-large. Elise is a lifetime member of the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) as well as AFM Local 1000. In 2012 she was given the Lifetime Achievement award from the United Association of Labor Educators and in 2015 was presented with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild’s Front Page Award for community service. She currently is the Executive Director of the Labor Heritage Foundation. 

      Other top officers include Carla Insinga who is the new National Executive Vice President and is the Director of Dauphin County Public Employees District Council 90 of AFSCME in PA. She has been active in AFSCME since the mid 1980’s, becoming local president and served as the Director of Council 13’s Organizing and Education Departments. Carla was elected to the CLUW National Officers Council in November, 2013 as the Vice President representing AFSCME.

      Judy Beard was re-elected as CLUW National Treasurer having served since 2004. In 2001 she was elected as a CLUW National Vice President representing APWU. She is the National Legislative and Political Director of the American Postal Workers Union, being the first woman elected in that position. Early in her career she was a University of Michigan School of Industrial Relations employee and served as Detroit APWU district area local vice president.

      Joanne M. Sanders is the new CLUW National Recording Secretary. She was Indiana’s CLUW State Vice President for seven years and in 2009 was elected as CLUW National Vice President for IATSE. In addition she serves as an International Representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). She was elected in 1999 as Councilor at Large for the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council, serving for twelve years.

      Bennie R. Bridges was re-elected as CLUW National Corresponding Secretary, having served since 2011. She was elected a CLUW National Vice President representing AFGE in 2001. She has been a member of the American Federation of Government Employees since 1968. In 1979 she was appointed as the District 12 National Women's Advisory Coordinator, becoming a member of the CLUW East Bay Chapter. She is an active retired member of AFGE Local 1122.  Read more here.

      What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women

      As the Republican Tax Bill was being put to vote in the Senate last week, efforts by organizations and activists to reveal the dangerous nature of this bill and stop it from passing were put into high gear. CLUW members contacted their Senators and rallied in Washington, DC and elsewhere expressing their opposition. The 24-hour People’s Filibuster held on Thursday Nov 30th and Friday Dec 1st organized by the Americans for Tax Fairness (CLUW is a supporter) rallied directly behind the US Capitol only a few hundred feet from the room in which Senators would be casting their votes.

      On Friday at 11:00 am the day’s rally opened with a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” covered by the Grammy-nominated singer Wayna who engaged the crowd to sing along with the rousing chorus.

      Karen Rice, a representative from the Georgetown Alliance for Graduate Employees, (American Federation of Teachers), described how the bill’s Grad Student Tax would treat currently tax-exempt graduate student’s tuition waivers as if they were a part of a student’s taxable income. This addition would raise taxes for most grad students by prohibitive margins, cutting off access to starting or finishing postgraduate education for so many students.

      Other organizations who participated were Not One Penny, Planned Parenthood, Communications Workers of America, the Feminist Majority, the National Women’s Law Center, National Partnership for Women and Families, Center for American Progress, and Justice in Aging among others.

      Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois took time to step out of the Capitol Building to thank the organizers and praised those present for their drive against this bill, which she described as a “trillion dollar disaster in every way” and urged the crowd to keep up their energy and continue putting on the pressure.

      Unfortunately, despite activists’ best efforts, the Senate Bill passed in the early hours of Saturday morning moving Congress into a period of reconciliation between the House and Senate versions which is currently underway at the time of writing. CLUW President Elise Bryant commented that, “The bill is a gift to Republican wealthy donors and corporations, leaving middle and low-income women and families to suffer. Medicare will be cut by $25 billion, 13 million people will be without health coverage, the deficit will be raised to disastrous levels, just to name some of the impact.” Moving into this critical time CLUW will continue to organize for the needs of working women and stand in opposition to policy which harms our communities and endangers the well-being of our country and economy.  Stay tuned.

      Jaida Curtis and Tiana Outram of CLUW’s National Office at the 24-hour People’s Filibuster

      Heather Booth, civil rights activist, speaks before some of the rally participants

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