Uniting Women Workers
Even in the 1970s, labor unions did not always welcome women into involvement and leadership, and often failed to recognize the needs of working women. Knowing the value labor unions could have for women, 1,200 women from unions all over the country met in Chicago on March 12, 1974 to found the Coalition of Labor Union Women(CLUW).
CLUW’s focus was to bring unorganized women into unions and to make unions responsive to the needs of working women. At the founding conference, they adopted four goals as their mission: organize the unorganized; promote affirmative action; increase women’s participation in their unions; and increase women’s involvement in political and legislative activities. CLUW bridged the labor movement and the women’s movement, bringing the issues of each to the attention of the other.
Mollie Fights for Women Workers
Mollie was a charter member of the Coalition for Labor Union Women and active in the organization for many years. Mollie was proud of the fact that CLUW was racially integrated and welcomed women from all trades, unlike other women’s labor organizations. CLUW encouraged women not only to join and be active in their unions, but to be leaders and run for office, as Mollie had always done.
Mollie served on CLUW’s National Executive Council for many years and held several positions in Chicago’s local chapter. As a founding member and long-time activist, she guided the organization in supporting issues such as the Equal Rights Amendment, or the ERA. Mollie observed that uniting women through CLUW led to more respect and better treatment of women by unions.
Listen to a clip from a radio show, featuring Mollie talking about the importance of CLUW in the video below.
Header image: Mollie West and CLUW members