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IFPTE Well Represented at CLUW Convention

IFPTE played a major role at the 19th Biennial Convention of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) held last week in Detroit. The convention, whose theme was, “Women: Taking it to the Streets”, focused on issues dealing with the importance of mentoring, balancing work and family issues, building coalitions with pro-worker organizations, and advancing CLUW's legislative agenda -- equal pay for equal work. Read Karen Bellamy Lewis' article on the convention happenings, view a host of convention photos, and a CLUW rally video.

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CLUW Convention 2017

Taking It to the Streets
By Karen Bellamy Lewis, IFPTE International Representative
CLUW Board Member

The Coalition of Labor Union Women held its 19th Biennial Convention at the Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan on September 6-9, 2017. The theme for this year’s convention was “Taking It to The Streets”.

CLUW delegates and observers attended a variety of workshops which were held prior to the opening of the convention. These workshops covered an array of interesting and current topics, to name a few, Beyond Bias: How We Think, Talk and Act on Race and Difference, Human Trafficking, and The Battle in the States: Fighting for Justice in 2018. There were a number of other workshops designed to empower women and prepare and encourage women to seek leadership positions.

CLUW has a growing number of young members, and 32 women under the age of 35 were in attendance to the convention. There was a Special Panel Presentation - Taking it to the Streets: Young Women Leading the Way into Our Future. Four young women and one outstanding young man served on this panel to discuss CLUW’s influence on them as activists as well as how to better engage them. CLUW recognizes the need to allow young women to influence policy and decision-making in matters that are of interest to young workers. Additionally, a Young Women’s Caucus took place every night and there was great participation throughout the convention from these vibrant young women.

The convention speakers were powerful and inspirational. The Honorable Nina Turner, President of “Our Revolution” and former Ohio State Senator addressed CLUW for the third time with a dynamic message in true “Nina Fashion”. Speakers included local politicians, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Carmen Berkley of Planned Parenthood, and several International Officers including IFPTE’s very own President Gregory Junemann. President Junemann gave a strong and positive message regarding women’s issues and the fight that ensues as a result of a Trump presidency. As a longstanding member of CLUW, President Junemann also served as a delegate.

CLUW’s theme “Taking it to the Streets” was exactly that. CLUW held a rally a few blocks away from the hotel in support of tipped wage workers who are paid $2.13 an hour. Prior to the rally, Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Center) addressed the delegation regarding the “One Fair Wage” campaign and the call to eliminate subminimum wage for tipped workers. Hundreds of CLUW women and men turned out to speak against this travesty with shouting, singing, chanting and cheering. The “Motown Diva” of Detroit, Lynn Marie Smith, a former organizer for Unite HERE (now Workers United), who organized the waitresses at the convention hotel, led in this effort by performing popular tunes with unions lyrics.

CLUW conventions are held every two years, and the election of officers take place every four years. This was an election year and there were nine officers who left the board. Elise Bryant, Executive Director of Heritage Foundation was elected as the new President of CLUW, replacing former President Connie Leak of the UAW who did not seek re-election. Elise is a member of CWA and is well known in the Teachers Union, and the Labor College which will help heighten CLUW’s visibility. IFPTE International Representative Dolores Gorczyca stepped down as the Executive Vice President after serving as a CLUW Officer for 18 years. Dee has been asked to serve as CLUW’s Administrative Officer Emeriti and to act as an advisor to the National Officers Council. International Representative Karen Bellamy Lewis was elected as a Vice President to represent IFPTE on the National Officers Council. For many years, Karen served on the National Executive Board as a union delegate and is an officer for the Greater New Jersey CLUW Chapter. Also elected were Michele Cooper and Robert Wilkerson from IFPTE-SPEEA Local 2001 as union delegates to the National Executive Board. The CLUW National Officers Council was expanded by two seats - adding two additional International Unions to the Board. This is an exciting time for CLUW. The five Officers and eighteen Vice President’s, elected by acclamation, will bring fresh and new ideas to the organization.

The convention culminated with a gala and more entertainment by the “Motown Diva”. It was a celebration with dancing, congratulatory hugs, photos and farewells. The attendees left the convention in solidarity with one another and armed with information as the pursuit for women’s rights and equality continues.

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