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.
The event is named after UE’s first woman International Representative, Florence Criley. She was a fierce organizer and advocate for workers’ rights, including for women and people of color. Charlene Winchell, president of the Western Region, opened the event with some information about Criley’s work in the labor movement, noting she was a co-founder of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Sekia Royall, current president of UE Local 150, introduced Taylor, noting her work not just with UE, but also other organizations including Black Workers for Justice, the Southern Workers’ Assembly, the Poor People's Campaign, and more recently, in environmental justice. She noted that personally, Royall sees Taylor as “someone to look up to… She is an awesome woman and an awesome leader.”
Taylor’s remarks rooted her own leadership in the union in reflections on many other women leaders in UE with whom she had the opportunity to work. She shared pictures of these women, including many leaders from Local 150 like Barbara Prear, Dana McKeithan, and Janice Scanes, as well as others from around the country, such as Autumn Martinez and Elizabeth Jesdale, Local 255, Marie Lausch, Local 222, Karen Rizzo, Local 613, and Shirley Harrison, Local 1135. In speaking about former District 10 president Marianne Hart, Taylor said, “She kept the men folk on their toes,” but also that Hart had “really welcomed me and made me feel really good at my first GEB meeting when she said that I had raised the bar when it comes to reporting and representing my region’s locals.” Taylor also praised former International Affairs Director Robin Alexander for providing opportunities to build solidarity with workers in many other countries including Mexico and Japan.
The funds raised during the event will offset registration costs for UE women members to attend programs such as the Polk School for Union Women or the women’s summer schools hosted by the United Association for Labor Education. Additional donations can still be made here. Leslie Riddle, Local 170 and co-chair of the women’s caucus, noted that an additional online auction of special gift baskets will be held later this fall.