Building Sisterhood and Solidarity in the Central Valley

Working women now account for half of the country's total labor force, and roughly 45 percent of its union members. For many women, particularly those who work in the expanding service sector, union membership helps to close the wage gap and provide a more family-friendly work environment.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) is the national women's organization within the labor movement. Our values are simple: Solidarity, involvement, dignity and justice. We strive to empower women workers to become leaders in their unions and communities, and encourage them to make a difference on the job, in government and in their own lives.

CLUW local chapters educate members politically, keep them up-to-date on a variety of work and family issues, and provide a support network for all working women (and men too). CLUW is unique because it’s open to all workers, not just women or union members, but also ‘associate members’ who do not belong to a union but still want to be involved with the labor movement. We welcome all who wish to affiliate, and we even have a number of male members that support the CLUW values.

CLUW also works with the “She Should Run” campaign, to provide support and resources for CLUW members seeking office. Statistically, women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider running for office, less likely to actually run, and significantly less likely to run for higher office. Often, women run for office because they are asked, and research shows that when women do run, they win at equal rates to men. That’s why CLUW is committed to increasing the number of women in politics by asking, encouraging and supporting the leaders of tomorrow to run for office today.

One of CLUW's founding goals is to use legislative action to create policy that is favorable to working women and their families. To further that goal, we’ve begun expanding in political hotbed areas, including California’s Central Valley. On November 12th at the National Executive Board Meeting for CLUW, Karen See (APWU), CLUW National President, presented the charter for the new Central California Chapter, which includes San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties.

The officers for the new chapter include me, President Nikki Linnerman (SEIU 1000), RaeLene Brown, Vice President (CWA 9333) and Heather Hays, Secretary-Treasurer (CSEA 668). SEIU 1000 President Yvonne Walker and Alex Gallardo-Rooker (CWA 9400, Vice President and First Vice Chair of the CA Democratic Party) are on the Chapter's charter list of union members, and Assemblymembers Cathleen Galgiani and Anna Caballero are notable political charter chapter associate members. We are also pleased to welcome the North Valley Labor Federation Executive Director Marcie Bayne as a sustaining member.

For more information, please visit www.centralcacluw.org or find us on Facebook – “Central CA CLUW”. For information on membership and affiliation with the new Chapter, please contact Vice President and Membership Chair, RaeLene Brown at (209) 380-4214.