ORLANDO, Fla. - Over 400 union women came to the Coalition of Labor Union Women's 16th Biennial Convention here, September 7-10, to demand equality and to defend union rights. The women came from many different unions to speak in one voice for working women.
CLUW President Karen See spoke about the benefits of union membership for working women: higher wages, better working conditions and protection from sexual harassment on the job.
The union women called for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, an act that saves the worker's job while she/he takes leave for medical reasons or to care for a child or sick family member. CLUW adopted a resolution to promote the Healthy Families Act to create a national paid sick days standard.
Delegates noted that the Family and Medical Leave Act was a great victory when it was won but that it covers only half the work force and the leave is unpaid. Many local CLUW chapters are already leading a fight for paid sick days.
Other resolutions adopted by the convention include support for single-payer health care, no cuts to Social Security cost of living increases, support for the Paycheck Fairness Act. Also adopted was a call for new priorities: end the wars and invest in America, stop the U.S. Postal Service from closing, and protect affirmative action.
While the convention was in session, President Obama asked Congress to pass his American Jobs Act.
The president's call to fight for jobs electrified the convention. Delegates resolved to fight for Obama's American Jobs Act and also to support Rep. Jan Schakowski's, D-Il., jobs bill. Jobs for women must also be part of the jobs program, delegates said.
Autoworkers, steel workers and many other trades united with their allies in the public sector to fight the attack on public workers. An important part of the jobs fight is to stop the layoffs of teachers and other public workers, a majority of them women. A major focus of the convention was outreach to young women workers who needed a voice on the job. A gala reception supplied a spirited end to the convention, to pass the Jobs Act and win the 2012 elections.