AFL-CIO joining the Women’s March
Liz Shuler (right), beside AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. | Wordpress

I wasn’t the only person who woke up the morning of Nov. 9 and felt like I was in an alternate reality.

My hope of seeing a woman become the president of the United States and break that highest glass ceiling was shattered. After a divisive election, laden with hateful and misogynistic rhetoric, I felt demoralized and powerless…where do we go from here?

Out in Hawaii, a retired attorney, Teresa Shook, took to Facebook and wondered what it would look like for women to descend on D.C. around the day of the inauguration to make a statement about our power. Women could signal loud and clear we will not sit back quietly if the rights we fought so hard for were rolled back. Within days, the Facebook group for a women’s march on Washington swelled into tens of thousands of people eager to join this movement.

The rest is history.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, I will join thousands of union women traveling to D.C. on buses from all over the country, and potentially hundreds of thousands of others, in the Women’s March on Washington.

Because I work in the labor movement, I’m not surprised at the huge response from union members wanting to participate in this march.

When union women are under attack, we know that collective action is the best way fight back, defend our rights on the job, and make a better life for ourselves and our families.

Whether we join a small break room conversation or hop on a bus to our nation’s capital, union women are ready to mobilize.

If you want an example of how union women made a huge difference this election, look at Nevada. In Las Vegas, Culinary Workers union members, many of whom are immigrant women, knocked on doors and went out in their communities working long hours to send Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina U.S. Senator, to Washington.

Women union members have a lot to offer activists looking to organize and fight against attacks on everything from our bodies to economic opportunities like equal pay and fair scheduling. Every day, union women stand up to bad bosses when we see something wrong in the workplace; we stand up against sexual harassment and anyone looking to deny us dignity on the job; and on January 21st, we will stand with our sisters from across the country and bring our power to the nation’s capital.

For too long, women have been told to reach high, but not too high. To dream big, but not too big. And at the same time, working women have been asked to shrink ourselves. To be polite as we’re being talked over at a meeting. To tidy up even when it’s not our mess. To duck our heads when men stare at us. To smile when we don’t feel like it. To be happy we have a job at all. And when we dream, to do it quietly and be content with what we’re given. We’ve had enough “quiet acceptance” — we’re making our voices heard.

Working women are a formidable force, a political force. Together, we can make equal pay, paid leave, and fair scheduling the law of the land. Together, we can lead a movement to change the world and build an economy that works for us all. Together, we can reject quiet acceptance and build an America where all working women can sustain their families and realize their dreams. On January 21st, we will be one step closer to achieving our goals.

Hope to see you on Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LizShuler

Liz Shuler is Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. The above article is reprinted from her blog.


Liz Shuler
Liz Shuler

Elizabeth “Liz” Shuler is Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, voted into office by acclamation at the Federation’s 26th convention on September 16, 2009. Ms. Shuler rose through the ranks from her first union position in Local 125 of the IBEW in Portland, Or.