Never Fear! The Women Are Here!

This year’s summer school was dedicated to the memory of Lois Gray, a professor and mentor at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell who helped found the Institute for Women and Work and the Latino Leadership Center, and Carolyn Jacobson, a founder of the Berger-Marks Foundation and C.L.U.W. who organized against sexism in the labor movement. The hosts for the Summer School were CUNY School of Labor Studies and Hofstra University.

Never Fear! The Women Are Here!

Photo Credit: Janette Pellegrini 

The 44th UALE Northeast School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations! Summer School took place from Saturday, July 27th to Wednesday, July 31st at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York. For 44 years, the Summer School has provided women in unions and other labor organizations with an opportunity to interact with like-minded women, learning from one another as well as from experienced labor educators and practitioners. This year’s summer school was dedicated to the memory of Lois Gray, a professor and mentor at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell who helped found the Institute for Women and Work and the Latino Leadership Center, and Carolyn Jacobson, a founder of the Berger-Marks Foundation and C.L.U.W. who organized against sexism in the labor movement. The hosts for the Summer School were CUNY School of Labor Studies and Hofstra University.

In 2019, the challenges confronting us are immense. As individuals, we might feel overwhelmed by the assaults against unions, refugees, women, and trans people, and the civil rights we thought we could take for granted. What we can take for granted is that, as Frederick Douglass said:

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or with both.“

Douglass gives us hope in recognizing that, collectively, we are able to overcome.  Never fear, the women are here! We are truly the superheroes of our workplaces, unions, organizations, and communities. Together, women will and can take a stand against their oppressors and fight for their rights and for justice for all. The women who attended the Summer School left with a renewed sense of commitment to their unions and worker organizations and with an enthusiasm for tackling the challenges before us. Lead coordinator, Diana Robinson expressed that,  “It was my great honor to be the lead coordinator of the 44th UALE Northeast Women’s Summer School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations. It was beautiful to see women from all walks of life come together in solidarity and sisterhood. I am extremely moved and motivated by how we all came together. We will continue to build a strong labor movement that includes the voices of women, immigrants, the LBGTQ community and Black workers and takes leadership from them as well. I am so grateful to all the instructors and my co-coordinators Sarah Knispel, Maureen LaMar and Mary Anne Trascatti. I believe that we will win! The past five days was evident of that.”

Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

Wanda L. Harrison, Inv. Chapter Chair, Local 1113    

This summer school is a great investment in the lives and careers of women who are in the union.  We fellowshipped with one another; we encouraged one another; and we promised one another that we will continue to fight for equal pay, equal opportunity and equal respect in the workplace. The UALE Summer School provides women with the necessary tools for union advocacy.  I met some wonderful women who exchanged union cards, union paraphernalia and words of inspiration. We sang and loved on one another and promised to keep in touch! “Women in the Union Rock!”

Trina Prior, Chairperson, DC 37 Local 372 Housing

Summer School at Hofstra University was an awesome 5-day experience. During that time I had the opportunity to meet and network with women from various labor unions, from different cities, and states. Within the classes and workshops attended, I learned the skills and knowledge to obtain leadership roles in labor unions and abroad. I’m truly grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to attend.    

Denise McLain,  DC37 member under Local 372, which represents the Department of Education employees, excluding most teachers and administration

This leadership experience has had a permanent impact on my life. Beginning with the amazing women I met during the five days of such positive growth and development and in every corner of this energized leadership trainings. Each one supported the next one. I felt like I had nothing to worry about from day one within any aspect because I just knew one of my UALE sisters would look out for me.   I believe every woman in leadership should have an opportunity in life to spend time learning about who they are by learning about the women that came long before they did. What it does for many of us is give a genuine purpose for why we must continue the movements.  There is always a cause to support our sisters. 

Living, learning, laughing and loving life what more can we ask for.   My heart, mind, and soul have been impacted eternally with positive energy.  I know “Why Women are Warriors” because it has always been required from the beginning of time. Thank you UALE. 

Jessica Huffman,  Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME Local #3330, Executive Board Member for AFSCME District Council 86 —  Pennsylvania’s AFSCME Council is Council 13

My impressions: everyone was easy to talk to, I never had to sit alone. I could sit with any of my sisters and have a decent conversation about anything.  I learned so much just by talking with the other sisters attending the school. As we all approach things differently, we were able to offer help and advice to each other on improving our unions and engaging our members.  It was also gratifying to meet younger women new to union office and looking for advice — and see the myriad of women stepping in to help them.

I attended the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire memorial event.  We sewed pieces of fabric on to a larger ribbon that will be incorporated into a memorial for the victims of that fire.  I was proud and humbled to be able to memorialize my mother, a union sister who passed away too young.

Clearly, women are here to stay. Women Are the Leadership!

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