The last day of the UAW Community Action Program Conference kicked off with a 7 a.m. Women’s Breakfast that drew about 500 UAW members to hear from Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada and UAW Region 9A Director Beverley Brakeman.
The morning started with brief words from UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry, who welcomed the group on behalf of UAW President Rory Gamble. He expressed appreciation to UAW women for their work and leadership.
The breakfast focused on the power of women in the union, the challenges they face, and the importance of women and men making the union stronger through collaboration and mutual understanding.
Women are good leaders, in part, because women do things differently, Brakeman told the audience.
“Women are more likely to approach decisions more collaboratively. We know what it’s like to get paid less for the same work as men,” she said. “We know we have to work harder to prove ourselves.”
Brakeman talked about the challenges women face on the plant floor and on worksites every day. One way to address them is to encourage more women to be involved at all levels.
“Women want to be part of the solution,” said Brakeman, adding that the Region 9A membership has more women members than men.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Estrada. “If we have a membership of 30% African Americans, then our leadership should reflect that. If we have 30% of Latinos, we should look for 30% of them as officers in our union and if we have 30% women, then 30% should be represented in leadership.”
The key, said Estrada, is to have “men and women working together on this.”
Dingell encouraged the group to “stand up to the division” created by politicians and created on the plant floor. She also encouraged members to stand up against a political landscape that does not protect issues affecting working families such as health care and Medicare.
“Don’t ever not be proud to be part of the union. You have good wages because of good, decent people fighting for you,” Dingell said.
Photos by Doris Guilford, Local 167
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