AFL-CIO National Survey to Examine the Lives of Working Women; Secy.-Treas. Shuler calls 'working women's voices more important than ever'
At the end of Oct., the AFL-CIO released the 2015 National Survey of Working Women to capture a multifaceted picture of the lives of working women across the country, both union and nonunion.
The survey, developed under the guidance of the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Working Women (on which CLUW President Connie Leak serves) is asking women about their economic interests, family and work life, along with their experiences balancing their responsibilities.
“Today, with the economy in slow recovery, a new wave of attacks on collective bargaining and a presidential election on the horizon, working women’s voices are more important than ever,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Chair of the AFL-CIO Women’s Committee at the event announcing the launch of the survey.
"As a labor movement, our approach always begins with worker voice," Shuler said. "Millions of us will come together this year and bargain for a better life."
"But I understand that unions are not available for everyone," Shuler said, so the new AFL-CIO program for working women will include training women who do not have a union to conduct "good old fashioned negotiating."
Shuler said, "Women in the workplace have gained a great deal: laws to protect women's rights, new freedoms, and career opportunities that were once thought unimaginable. ... But discrimination still exists."
Her entire speech can be found here.
She announced that to help "galvanize the power of women," the AFL-CIO is launching "a comprehensive survey about the lives of working women. This survey will take the pulse of working women inside and outside the labor movement. It will be a baseline measure of working women's lives."
The survey runs until December 4, 2015, and results will be available in March 2016 during Women’s History Month.
A special CLUW survey link has been created and all CLUW members are encouraged to participate. The survey can be accessed online here.
Thanks to scholarships provided by the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), four (4) members of CLUW were able to participate in the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) Women’s Summer Schools. Each sister took part in workshops ranging in topics from communication skills, organizing skills, safety and health, public speaking, and steps for moving up in leadership, to name a few. The goal of these workshops is to develop new activists who will lead and transform the labor movement. Extracurricular activities provided the participants with opportunities to network and learn more about labor history through art and culture.
Reports came in from scholarship recipients expressing gratitude for the opportunity, and they shared their positive experiences. Each award recipient got the chance to speak before the attendees at their respective school about CLUW.
“Looking at over 100 beautiful faces from all over the Northeast, I spoke with my sisters on how I came to be at the podium,” said Liz Moran, who attended the Northeast Summer School. She continued, “I spoke of the challenges that I faced as a young Hispanic leader in a workplace dominated by white men. I educated labor women on how CLUW is a primary tool for me as a rising leader in the labor movement.”
Lisa Alexander, who was also a part of the Northeast Summer School, shared her experience, stating, “The atmosphere was one of such that bonded me from the beginning with women from all over the North East region… The class on Public Speaking was truly enlightening. It enhanced my ability to stand in front of a crowd and express my topic with conviction. We critiqued our own speeches as well as our classmates. With the knowledge and tools provided I know that I can do this.”
Sheila D. Heard, who attended the Midwest Summer School, wrote:
“The main focus for me was, it doesn’t matter where you come from we have one common dominator...the struggle for justice and equality. The experience I had was priceless. ...[I received] a lot of information that I could share with my locals about communication, the Federal and Medical Leave Act, and how to be a better organizer. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity."
Shelia Heard (APWU) front row left in orange.
Tasha West-Baker of the Western Regional Institute for Women even touched on the impact that CLUW had on other women in attendance. “During my Bargaining to Win and Running for Office classes, I was asked by our Canadian sisters if they could get a chapter in Canada. Also many women in outlying areas wanted to know how to get a chapter.”
Tasha West-Baker (UFCW) front row left in blue with her
"Running for Office" classmates
Liz Moran, Lisa Alexander, Tasha West-Baker, and Sheila Heard are but a few of the women who took away something from these workshops. To Lisa Alexander, the purpose of the summer schools was clear: “Because of the faith, solidarity and sisterhood of CLUW, I attended my first UALE Summer School for Union Women. CLUW made it possible for me to grow, learn and empower other sisters to move forward and help others to grow."
Liz Moran (AFSCME) Lisa Alexander (AFSCME)
On a bright sunny morning on September 16, 2015, over 50 civil rights, community, labor and religious organizations including CLUW came together for Voters Rights at the America’s Journey for Justice Legislative Advocacy Day Rally at Senate Park in Washington, DC. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sponsored the rally, giving thanks to all of those that came to show support. With them were the marchers of America’s Journey for Justice, a 1,002 mile journey from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC. Marchers moved through the country, to find out what problems communities are facing and to bring them to DC where decisions are made. The goal of the rally was to urge Congress to pass The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015.
The keynote speaker, NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, gave an emotionally-charged speech, acknowledging those that participated in or completed America’s Journey for Justice and calling out Congress, asking, “If you’re asking for our vote, why can’t you commit to protect the right?”
Several Senators and House Representatives addressed those assembled, including Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative Terri Sewell, and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, all speaking in favor of the bill and asking other members of Congress to step up and support.
The AFL-CIO, CWA and AFT (AFT President and CLUW member Randi Weingarten is pictured at the podium) also conveyed their support.
When the rally concluded those who wished to, marched to the Senate with petitions.
What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women
The life of a union woman is a busy one. They’re often so busy that their own health and wellness can be ignored. This is not okay, and CLUW wants to help change this.
In an effort to bring union women’s health to the spotlight, CLUW partnered with HealthyWomen (HW), a leading online resource for women’s health, to create a women’s health-focused survey. It was live during the month of September. Through this survey, CLUW and HW were able to gain insights into what union women need to and want to know about their health.
Of the 2035 people who took the survey, 63 percent selected diet/nutrition as what they search for most online. Fitness/exercise and aging well were also among the top selections. According to our survey, most people search for health information—preferably articles or news—in the evening hours or via their preferred social network, Facebook.
This information is crucial in implementing a health resource on CLUW’s website. Here is what you can expect each month on the CLUW site, thanks to HealthyWomen:
- Health headlines;
- Fitness motivation
- Aging well tips
Since many of the survey participants were also active on Facebook, CLUW will be posting the health content monthly on our Facebook page and will offer a free signup to HealthyWomen’s weekly newsletters.
Additional survey findings will be presented at the CLUW Convention in November, where CLUW will announce the winners of two $100 gift cards for those who completed the survey.
“I am delighted to report that the survey response rate was double the number anticipated,” said CLUW President Connie Leak.
“CLUW truly believes that empowering union women means making sure they have the health information for themselves and their families that they need and want. The outstanding response to the survey makes it clear that we have hit on a topic of particular importance to union women. Many thanks to everyone who answered the survey, as well as to everyone who got it out in the labor movement."
Survey responses came from union women in 36 different states in more than 45 different unions. A total of 566 CLUW members completed the survey.