CLUW Delegates Strategize Post Election

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

LAS VEGAS (PAI)—Barely one week after the unexpected election loss of Democratic presidential nominee – and feminist – Hillary Rodham Clinton, some 225 other feminists, also known as Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), gathered in Las Vegas to strategize.

Delegates to the conference in Las Vegas, whose theme was “Where do we go from here? The path continues,” discussed empowerment, skills building and issues confronting women, notably woman workers in the future.

Oh, and they talked about the election, too.

President Connie Leak called the results disappointing, but said there is no turning back. “As women we know what it means to struggle and no matter what the future may bring we will work to make life better for working women. That is our mission. That is what we will do,” Leak declared. Delegates gave her a standing ovation when asked them to be “with her.”

As expected, a majority of women voted for Clinton, AFL-CIO Deputy Political Director Liz McElroy reported The catch is that fewer union women than were needed – and fewer unionists overall -- voted for Clinton than voted for Barack Obama in his presidential runs.

Clinton received 8-1/2 million fewer votes than Obama and “we underestimated the role that sexism played in the election,” McElroy said. She said 53 percent of white women backed GOP nominee Donald Trump, but 94 percent of African-American women voted for Clinton.

Nevertheless, speakers touted wins for women and woman workers, including the election of four new pro-worker female Democratic U.S. Senators: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Kamala Harris of California and Catherine Cortez Musto of Nevada. 

And Clinton and Cortez Musto carried Nevada after the state AFL-CIO mustered huge political efforts, said state fed Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rusty McAllister, featuring 525 fulltime workers and half a million door knocks statewide.

Rachel Lyons of the National Partnership for Women and Families emphasized that there is still strong support for key working women’s issues, among them equal pay, paid family leave and combatting pregnancy discrimination. And woman workers still have strong advocates in Congress led by veteran Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

But with Congress in GOP hands, Lyons recommended even more concentration on the states, which have been passing paid family leave laws and raising the minimum wage, even as Congress for a decade has refused to do so. 

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