President's Report

Spring 2016

In April, I had the privilege of welcoming the WOMEN BUILD NATIONS conference to Chicago.

In April, I had the privilege of welcoming the WOMEN BUILD NATIONS conference to Chicago. This is the first time this conference was held outside California. More than 1,600 women from across the country descended on Chicago to add their voices to the thousands of women who have come before them, promoting the work of women not only in the trades but throughout the Labor Movement as a whole.

Their choice to come to Chicago is significant because Chicago is a strong union town with a rich union history that stems back to the formative years of the modern Labor Movement. Chicago is the home of more Local 1s than any other city in the country. It is the home to many of the most historic labor events throughout America’s history. This is also the birthplace of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, an organization focused on addressing the critical needs of millions of organized and unorganized working women. Throughout history, women have played an active role in shaping our Labor Movement, motivating others to action, and moving us forward together.

I am privileged to personally know and work with some of the most influential women from the Chicago Labor Movement. My father, Ruben, worked alongside Addie Wyatt, a founder of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the first African-American woman to hold a senior office in an American labor union when she was named an International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers. He was also friends with Robert Vaughn, former President of UFCW Local 546 and a former UFCW International Vice President, and his wife, Jackie Vaughn, the first African-American and the first woman to head the nation’s third largest teachers’ union local, the Chicago Teachers Union. I have had the privilege of working with Esther Lopez, SecretaryTreasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Esther has done it all throughout her career, from worker and community organizing to working in legislation and politics.

Each spring, the CFL honors one outstanding woman in our movement as our Woman of the Year. (Read more on page 10.) Our union sisters should take great pride in the collective action that women bring to this Movement. It is important to recognize these strong women leaders who are setting the example for the next generation of women to take up the fight of strengthening the middle class.

This November, we all have an important decision to make as we choose the next President of the United States. No matter which candidate you support on the Democratic side, we need to remember what we are up against on the Republican side. Their presumptive Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, stated recently that if Hillary Clinton were a man, she wouldn’t get five percent of the vote.1 He said the only thing she has going for her is her “woman card.” Unfortunately we still live in an age where despite their qualifications, women are discredited and passed up for jobs based solely on their gender, or a person is discriminated based on race or sexual preference. The Labor Movement fights to prevent this and to end all forms of discrimination.

Unions are about protecting basic rights. We stand up for all workers, the unionized and those we intend to unionize. We are a powerful voice in the fight for workers’ rights, as well as human rights.

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