On Sunday, October 10, UE held its second Florence Criley Women’s Leadership Fundraiser. This event raised over $2600 to subsidize the costs of UE women attending leadership development programs. The featured speaker of this year’s event was Larsene Taylor, former president of UE Local 150 and former member of the General Executive Board (GEB), UE’s highest rank-and-file decision-making body outside of conventions.
In their attacks on President Biden’s much-needed proposals to invest in physical and human infrastructure, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, many Republican politicians have derided applying the term “infrastructure” to programs that support working families. They dismiss child care, elder care and paid family leave as “liberal social programs” as opposed to the “real infrastructure” of buildings, roads, and bridges.
The experience of UE members during World War II, when millions of women took jobs in manufacturing, tells a different story.
As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) eagerly anticipated the June 1947 enactment of the anti-union Taft-Hartley law, they were also celebrating another, less well-remembered victory over labor. In May, the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which had regulated prices of consumer goods during and after World War II, had closed its doors.
To mark Women’s History Month, the UE NEWS interviewed former UE General Secretary-Treasurer Amy Newell.
Her parents, Charles and Ruth Newell, were both UE staff members when she was a child. Her father was one of the first three organizers hired by UE in 1936 and her mother became a UE organizer during World War II.
UE's history of fighting for equality for women workers is featured in a question on this year's Advanced Placement (AP) United States History Exam from The College Board. High school students across the country who score well on the AP exam can earn college course credit before they start college.
In the 1970s, salaried women workers at Erie GE fought important battles for workplace equality, including two strikes in 1974 and ’75 in which they demanded equal pay for equal work. The participants in these struggles were predominantly young women, and they were influenced by the ideas of the feminist movement as well as by UE’s long-established principles of equality and rank-and-file unionism.
March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual tradition that began over a hundred years ago. While celebrations continue worldwide, few people remember that the holiday was first initiated by American Socialists. As legend would have it, they were inspired to hold a demonstration in order to mark the anniversary of an 1857 female garment workers’ strike in New York.
Since the founding of the United States, working people have had to fight to win, and to keep, the right to vote. And through American history, rich and powerful people, often calling themselves "conservatives", have tried to maintain their privileges by depriving other Americans of the right to vote.
Helen Quirini, a pioneer activist for the rights of women workers, and for the past 30 years a powerful voice of GE retirees, died on October 4 at age 90.
March each year is Women’s History Month, so this is a good time to reflect on the contributions that UE women have made to their union and to the long, continuing struggle for women’s equality in the United States.