The Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) celebrated Working Women’s Awareness Week with an awards reception, held at the board room of Workers United, 22 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, on Thursday, June 19, 2014.
Children’s books were collected for Messages From Mom and Dad, a program where people in prison are videotaped reading to their children.
Laura Wentz, President of Philadelphia CLUW and member of IATSE Local 8 (Stagehands), greeted everyone and introduced chapter officers and board members. Wentz explained CLUW as “a permanent coalition, we cannot accomplish any of our goals unless we all work together. We fight for women’s rights, we fight for union rights, we fight for all workers’ rights, and we fight for basic human rights.” Among the campaigns that CLUW is involved in, said Wentz, is one for a bill for paid sick leave in the Philadelphia City Council; she warned of a bill in the Pennsylvania state legislature that would prohibit municipalities from passing laws on paid sick leave.
CLUW, added Wentz, also campaigns to protect women’s reproductive rights, pay equity, fighting gender-based discrimination; “We also support raising the minimum wage,” she added, “As we know, $7.25 an hour” is unsustainable, “and no one should work a forty-hour week and still live in poverty, that’s just unacceptable.” CLUW, Wentz added, is also active in the campaign for fair funding for public schools, and in organizing teachers in charter schools, and against the privatization of liquor stores; she urged participants to sign up for information about these campaigns. Wentz thanked everyone for “Coming to this reception, to honor six amazing female activists in our community.”
The honorees were:
Billie Goldstein, PhD, a member of Temple Association of University Professionals, AFT Local 4531, who has taught at Temple University for twenty years, and who has sued the university for wage discrimination. Goldstein found that men of the same or lower rank in faculty, and with less education, made $10,000 more in salary than she did. She sued, but her attorneys failed to prove “intentional” discrimination; but she had the support of her family and the union.
Kati Sipp, Director of Pennsylvania Working Families. Sipp was previously Executive Vice President and Political Director of SEIU Healthcare PA, where she was in charge of engaging members in legislative activities, political education, and community organizing. She was previously employed at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP) and Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, where she worked with Labor groups, faith communities, and neighborhood activists.
Helen Gym, of Asian American United and activist for public schools. Gym serves of the board of AAU, which serves the various Asian communities in the Philadelphia area, and is a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, which campaigns for financial and other resources for Philadelphia public schools. Gym also writes for local media outlets, and is a founder of the independent education newspaper Philadelphia Public School Notebook .
Maisha Brown, AFSCME Local 2187, an Analytical chemist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, responsible for testing the air quality of the City of Philadelpha. She became active in the union in 2006 when she and her co-workers stood up to mistreatment by a city contractor, and in 2008 she organized a health and safety committee for her agency, and later chaired the Department’s City-wide committee on health and safety. She is a founding member of AFSCME District Council 47’s Next Wave Committee, which urges younger workers to become active in the union. Brown joined CLUW in 2010, becoming a member of the Philadelphia chapter’s Executive Board, and the Young Women’s committee, later serving as Recording Secretary, and then Chapter Vice President. Brown has attended union leadership programs; she also has a BS from Arcadia University and an MPH from Drexel University.
Lois Miller, AFSCME District Council 47, She was hired in 2001 by District Council 47 as a clerk-typist, serving several local, the staff representative, and the Health and Safety Director, along with providing clerical help for Philadelphia CLUW.
Barbara Russella, of Unite Here, who has worked as a waitress in various restaurants in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, becoming a steward when she worked at a restaurant in Veterans Stadium. After much volunteer work, the union appointed Russella as a paid organizer and booking agent, and she has also been a community activist and committee person.