Women’s Caucus: Resilient Women Shape UWUA

Valerie King, Chair, Women’s Caucus

When I see UWUA, I see more than Utility Workers Union of America; I think: Union, Women, Uniting, America through focused efforts of member engagement. Your National Women’s Caucus continues to seek collaboration with other partners and AFL-CIO affiliates to hone member leadership skills and build the labor movement. We’re working to develop rank-and-file members into local, regional, and national leaders.

It’s important for women to gather, refocus, discover their voices, and support one another while building a sisterhood around common ideas.

It’s so important that we take inventory of the tremendous talent pool that exists right here in our union and that we make the needed investment to fully develop these assets. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women are growing within the labor movement: in 1984, they comprised one-third of all union members; by 2021, their share grew to 46%. It is predicted that in 2025 the majority of our country’s union members will be female.

The pathway to change is clear, and our GPS (Growth, Performance and Sustainment) is contingent on engaging our women members and developing leaders. So, what is our National Women’s Caucus doing to ensure that UWUA women are on the pathway to progress?

  1. We are building a coalition of women leaders through community and solidarity initiatives. Examples include Local 223’s “Painting with Power” event; Local 601’s Strike Out Cancer bowling event (see back cover for more on this); Local 1-2 members serving meals to the homeless at the Meatloaf Kitchen; Local 600’s work at Reset Ministries Women’s Sober House in Newport, Kentucky, a partnership that they developed to rehab the facility and support women and men in transition; and Local 132’s “Mother Handbook,” a joint project with their employer’s wellness and labor relations department to create a resource for new mothers.
  1. We are promoting women and strengthening their leadership through connecting them with other women — including with other groups like the AFL-CIO’s Department of Professional Employees (DPE) member roundtable; NJ AFL-CIO’s Women In Leadership Development (WILD); Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW); and the Boston labor council’s WILD program.

Through these efforts and in building these connections, we are mentoring, inspiring, and building confidence among women throughout our union. We’re creating a community of likeminded women. It’s important for women to gather, refocus, discover their voices, and support one another while building a sisterhood around common ideas. As importantly, we’re helping to build gender equity by supporting the efforts of women and their contributions to the labor movement. Let our legacy be filled with actions that inspire others to dream big, reach higher, and emerge as leaders to “Fight the Good Fight” in the labor movement. Women are the future of our movement!