Every year there is an increase in the number of women in our union. This was apparent at this year’s 32nd UWUA National Convention. As I looked around, I saw many women in the room. This was exciting to see, especially since we had amazing women guest speakers. We had the first ever female president of the AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler. We also heard from Susie Martinez, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO; the Executive Director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), Terri Carmichael Jackson; and Kim Kelly, a freelance labor journalist. This was amazing, and to me embodied the mantra, “If I can see her, I can be her!”
I was at the convention representing the National Women’s Committee. On the first day, I was able to speak in favor of the resolution supporting UWUA women and share why I feel our union needs to continue to grow this committee. Our success is contingent upon the investment in UWUA women. This will provide advancement of women through mentorship, provide educational opportunities, and allow women to rise higher in our locals.
This resolution will also help to normalize our presence in leadership roles instead of being the exception. In 2015 the Women’s Caucus Committee was formed to do this very thing. In the beginning there were only a few members, whereas today we are close to 25 members. This growth is the result of the hard work and dedication of the women in the UWUA.
One afternoon after the conclusion of the convention’s official business, Women’s Committee Chair Valerie King hosted a first ever meet and greet for UWUA sisters. It was a huge success! There were a handful of us from the Women’s Committee and a few sisters that served on other national committees, but most of the attendees were women that were at the convention to represent their local unions as delegates and alternates. We got to network, share stories, and give guidance to those from locals that do not yet have a local women’s committee. It is encouraging to know that we can continue to build from this event.
If you are reading this and your local does not have a women’s committee and you are interested in starting one, or in getting involved in the national committee, do not hesitate to start the conversation. We’re here for you!