February marks Black History Month, the month in which we celebrate the achievements and successes of the Black community. Women of color have been integral and present in the labor movement dating all the way back to 1866, when the Laundresses in Jackson, MS unionized and went on strike for higher wages. In 1883, Lucy Parsons and her husband helped found the International Working People’s Association and she was influential in organizing the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. In 1955, Maida Springer Kemp worked as an international representative for the AFL-CIO in Africa, the first woman of color to represent labor abroad. In 1974, Addie Wyatt, UFCW, helped found the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) at its founding convention in Chicago.
Lucy Parsonsn founder of the IWPA
Laundress for Jackson, MS who went on strike for higher wages.
Founding Member of CLUW
Which then brings us to now, with leaders like CLUW’s current President Connie Leak, APWU’s Secretary Treasurer Elizabeth Powell, AFT’s Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, and the list goes on; and the #blackgirlmagic is everywhere. According to the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, black women and men had the highest level of unionization in the country in 2015 at 12.8% and 14.5% respectively. The Wall Street Journal predicts that black women will be the majority of union workers by 2025. Reports show that they are the majority of newly organized workers and will continue to grow, despite unionization rates dwindling. Keep watching the website for more on #BlackHERstoryMonth
One in two women will be diagnosed with heart disease. One in three women will die from it.
For February Heart Month, CLUW joins the Society of Women’s Health Research and CardioDx (two of our Spread the Word campaign co-sponsors) in Spreading the Word about Coronary Artery Disease, the most common form of heart disease.
Watch here the latest video interview and blog post featuring a 49-year-old mother with a family history of heart disease, published in The Huffington Post.
In 2015, approximately 370,000 Americans died from heart disease. That's one in seven deaths. In the time it takes for you to read this article, two more people will die. These statistics are alarming, so what can YOU do? We have an answer: Recognize American Heart Month this February by learning about the signs of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease. Find out whether that huffing and puffing you experience while walking up the stairs is a sign that you might be a little out of shape -- or a sign of CAD.
Read the rest in The Huffington Post.
January 29, 2009, President Obama signed into law his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This Act came as a direct result of the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007) case, and amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, declaring that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action (Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009). The Lilly Ledbetter Act took us one step closer to achieving equal pay. But the gender wage gap still leaves women earning less than their male counterparts, especially white men. We must continue fighting for equal pay!
In 2008 CLUW featured a special presentation by Lilly Ledbetter at a National Executive Board meeting that took place in Cleveland Ohio. She is pictured here before her presentation wearing CLUW's button on her lapel.
Please join the Coalition of Labor Union Women as we celebrate this Act and participate in a tweet storm sponsored by the Fair Pay Coalition:
EQUAL PAY TWITTER STORM!
Twitter Storm for Ledbetter Anniversary & All Things Equal Pay!
When: Friday, January 29th, 2:00 to 3:00 PM EST
Hashtags: #EqualPay; #EqualPayCantWait
Special Guest: Lilly Ledbetter
Below are a few sample tweets:
- The #wagegap has been stagnant for years, but #EqualPayCantWait – we don’t have that kind of time to wait for #EqualPay
- Latinas have to work for 22 months to earn what white men make in just one year. That's definitely not #EqualPay. #EqualPayCantWait
- When women spend their careers losing money to the #wagegap, that means less retirement savings. #EqualPay is critical at every age.
- Black women working full time, year round are typically paid 60¢ for every $1 paid to a white man. #EqualPay
If you would like to see the gender wage gap in your state click here.
Today, President Obama is highlighting several actions that his Administration is taking to further advance equal pay for all workers and to further empower working families:
-The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in partnership with the Department of Labor, is publishing a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. The proposal would cover over 63 million employees and will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.
-The President is renewing his call to Congress to take up and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.
-The Council of Economic Advisers is releasing an issue brief, “The Gender Pay Gap on the Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” that explores the state of the gender wage gap, the factors that influence it, and policies put forward by this Administration that can help address it. The brief highlights that the U.S. gender wage gap is now 2.5 percentage points larger than the average for industrialized countries.
The White House will host a Summit on “The United State of Women” on May 23rd together with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation. The summit, which comes nearly two years after the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, will create an opportunity to mark the progress made on behalf of women and girls domestically and internationally over the course of this Administration and to discuss solutions to the challenges they still face. http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/
Pictured from the left are NYS Assemb. Pat Fahey, and CLUW Members Holly Clark, Susan Zucker, Pres. Connie Leak, and Kate Mullany Chapter Pres. Liz Moran.
Latham, NY -- Connie Leak, president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the only national organization representing union women, accepted the Kate Mullany medal for its activism from American Labor Studies Center (ALSC) Director Paul Cole. The awards reception was held Dec. 8 at the New York State United Teachers building here. The Irish Trio, Triskele, entertained the audience with music and songs.
The medal’s namesake was an early female union advocate. Mullany fought for the right for workers to have safe working conditions, a decent wage and the right to have a union, Cole explained. The Kate Mullany House is located at 350 Eighth St. in Troy, NY. It was declared a national historic landmark in 1998 and became a unit of the National Park System in 2004. The house is currently being restored. "We hope to have a ribbon-cutting next year," Cole said.
New York State Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany; and Bill Scheuerman, former president of the National Labor College and the United University Professions higher education union for SUNY, were also honored at the reception with Kate Mullany medals.
At its recent Convention, CLUW joined other progressive women’s organizations to take on the “War on Women.” CLUW directly challenged politicians and campaigns that foster gender discrimination and promote legislation compromising reproductive rights.
In her opening remarks, CLUW President Connie Leak, declared, “We are at War! We must be armed and equipped for the battles that lie ahead that women constantly face.” She went on to encourage everyone to “band together and fight against gender discrimination and injustice.” She observed that many of the same people and groups seeking to keep women down also seek to destroy unions.
The November 2014 election results made unions especially vulnerable. Many state governments are controlled by politicians who oppose unions and are already taking advantage of their opportunity, pushing measures to expand non-union charter schools and scale back requirements that public projects pay higher, union-scale wages. They are the same people pushing to keep People of Color, women and young people from voting by passing unnecessary and unfair Voter I.D. laws.
As we write this, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, an attack on working people's freedom to come together and form unions. The current make-up of the court does not bode well for labor or women, who make up a large percentage of public employees. The potential impact of this case underscores the importance of electing a pro-worker, pro-woman president in November! Read more here.AFL-CIO Deputy Political Director Speaks to CLUW National Officers on the Election: Focus on Local Elections, Connecting Messages to Policy
Washington, DC – Deputy AFL-CIO Political Director Liz McElroy (also a member of CLUW) addressed the National Officers Council, meeting here, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO MLK, Jr. Civil & Human Rights Conference. Her focus was on the 2016 elections, underscoring the importance of not just the Presidential, but all elections up and down the ticket.
She noted that in 2014 it seemed that voters were voting for good economic policies like paid sick leave, minimum wage, protection of collective bargaining rights at the ballot box while turning away candidates who supported those same issues. She identified the problem as being that "the connection between our issues and our candidates was lost” and she challenged us as CLUW officers and CLUW members to make that connection whenever possible.
She finished on an optimistic note, citing the partnerships labor is building with progressive allies to talk about issues that matter and motivate people to action. The AFL-CIO is developing its 2016 program, which CLUW will be working with on with them.
Please note that we have added a link on the top of the CLUW homepage called "Election 2016” where we will be putting resources that members and chapters will find useful throughout the election cycle. The first piece is already there. It's Post Great Recession Blues (and then some), a PowerPoint used with Dr. Sylvia A. Allegretto’s Presentation at 2015 CLUW Convention.
NOC members pictured above, participated in the AFL-CIO’s “Change the Rules: Working Women’s Strategy Session,” hosted by the AFL-CIO Exec. Council’s Women’s Comm., the day before the NOC meeting.CLUW Joins with 1,500 Other Organizations to Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Members Urged to Contact Members of Congress
CLUW has joined with more than 1,500 labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, women’s, faith and other organizations to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a proposed pact that would set rules governing approximately 40% of the global economy.
The pact would make it easier for big corporations to ship jobs overseas, pushing down our wages and increasing income inequity. It would allow our supermarkets to be flooded with unsafe imported food and increase the prices of prescription drugs according to Public Citizen.
The letter delivered to Congress warns the TPP of additional detrimental impacts in addition to those listed previously. Read the letter here.
Celeste Drake from the AFL-CIO spoke to the CLUW National Officers Council on January 13 about its opposition to the agreement. She called it “worse than we thought it would be;” observing that it includes “all of the worst parts of previous trade agreements.”
Below are ways CLUW members can take direct action to defeat TPP:
1. The campaign to defeat TPP will be hand-delivering the letter to many local district offices from January 14–24. To take part in one of these events, use these contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.494.8826
2. Click the PopVox icon listed on the “Action Center” on the right side of the CLUW homepage. You will find TPP listed and through it, you can directly contact your Members of Congress and let them know of your opposition to the agreement (it will allow you to use a pre-written message or your own).
What's New at Coalition of Labor Union Women
CLUW Convention Provides Information, Frames Policy, Guides Action
“The expression, ’Knowledge is power’ – a guiding principle on which the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) was founded in 1974 – continues to lead CLUW today,” says CLUW President Connie Leak.
If you were a delegate to the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Convention in November, you went home empowered with knowledge about women’s health - information for yourself, as well as information to be shared with your CLUW/union sisters, who were not in attendance. You participated in spirited debates and adopted numerous resolutions, including a number related to women’s health, which you resolved to carry out between this convention and the next one in two years.
Why care about health issues like heart disease and mental health? Leak asserts, “CLUW’s primary focus is on empowering women at work and in their unions. In recent years our leadership has broadened that commitment to include the health of union women, as we know that when women have access to quality, easy-to-understand and up-to-date health information, they live longer, are more productive and have better quality lives.“It is also well known that women – often the chief medical health officers of their families – tend to neglect their own health,” adding, “And union women are no different.” Read more here.