San Diego, California – December 8, 2014 – Hundreds of delegates from the U.S. and Canada attended the UFCW Women’s Network Convention in San Diego, California in December.
Under the theme of “Empowering Women Through Leadership and Training,” the convention focused on the challenges and opportunities facing UFCW sisters across Canada and the United States.
The UFCW Women’s Network works to motivate and encourage women members to become more active in their union and their communities.
The UFCW Women’s Network Convention was a place for women in our union to network, receive training and leave empowered to create change.
Delegates to the four-day convention participated in a range of exciting workshops that discussed building power for better contracts, making politics work for women and their unions, recruiting women union members to organize workers, and empowering women to recognize their power as leaders within the labor movement.
Speakers included Marc Perrone, International Secretary-Treasurer, now our newly elected International President; newly-elected state Senator from California (and former President of UFCW 1428) Connie Leyva; Maria Elana Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; Dina Bakst, Co-President of A Better Balance; Elizabeth (Liz) Schuler, Secretary-Treasurer AFL-CIO, Deb Higgins, Mayor of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and Actress and Comedian Kim Coles.
“The labor movement has to change to meet the needs of members,” said Marc Perrone, the UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer, now our newly elected International President. “We need to sit down and listen to what is important to women union members, then act on those conversations,” he added.
“Gender equality is not just a women’s issue; it is a human rights issue,” said Rhonda Nelson, the International Chair of the UFCW Women’s Network. “We must look at the challenges that face women in our union, and look at our leadership positions to see that there are many opportunities for improvement.”.
In January of 2014 the UFCW Women’s Network launched a formal mentoring program, which was highly successful with 14 active teams of mentors and mentees participating.
At the convention, a panel discussion took place moderated by Lynn Knaak, International Representative and Chair of the Political Action Committee for the Women’s Network, where some of the mentors and mentees spoke about the importance of the program. We would have liked to have had all 14 teams participate and share their stories, however in the interest of time we had asked just a few of the teams to share their experiences.
Both mentors and mentees answered questions relaying their stories to the delegates on how they had personally grown as they went through the mentoring program. All agreed that this is a much needed and important program, which should be continued; mentorship encourages and educates women on how to become activists within their Local Unions.
“The UFCW Women’s Network is excited and committed to continue the mentoring program and we are looking forward to having many more success stories. We truly believe that this program will give members the confidence to move forward and strengthen their Local Unions and the UFCW International”, stated Rhonda Nelson, International Chair, Women’s Network.