UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
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UAW sisters and brothers from across the country gathered at the UAW Family and Education Center, Black Lake from Aug. 7-12, 2011 to discuss labor’s role in building community coalitions and joining forces with like-minded activists to make positive change locally and globally.
“These are difficult times for middle class and poor Americans,” said Vice President Cindy Estrada, director of the UAW Women’s Department. “The rich and powerful, along with their allies in Washington, D.C. and many of our state capitals, are waging war against union members and working families.
“Women and people of color are especially hurt by these economic battles,” she added. “As labor women activists, we have to be brave and break out of our normal routines by being active participants in our communities, because labor can’t make lasting community change alone.”
In addition to Vice President Estrada, conference delegates heard powerful messages and presentations by UAW President Bob King, Wayne State University Labor Archivist Mike Smith and UAW Global Organizing Institute Director Moe Fitzsimons.
A panel discussion on “Creating Caring Communities” focused on community-based initiatives that were sparked and grew with a community activist’s idea, such as community gardens, time banking, free healthcare clinics, and digital justice. Another panel focused on “Immigration Rights & the Impact on Families,” led by Ryan Bates of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan and three young panelists who discussed the injustices they have suffered due to their or a loved one’s illegal immigrant status.
A day-long class on “Social Unionism” began with a plenary session and moved into delegate workshops to talk about labor’s role in past, present and future social justice movements. The plenary and workshops were led by Bill Bryce, Gayle Hamilton, Millie Palmer and Steve Wyatt.
A plenary workshop on “Creating Critical Connections: Community Coalitions” was led by Shea Howell, a long-term Detroit activist and communications professor at Oakland University. Howell was assisted by Carmen Rembert and Rick Feldman of Vice President Estrada’s staff. Howell led a workgroup exercise that focused on developing a plan to create a community coalition around a community-based need.
The 2012 International Women’s Conference is scheduled for Aug. 5-10, 2012 at Black Lake. Four new scholarships have been established for two members from a Competitive Shop/IPS unit and two members from a Technical, Office and Professional unit to pay the conference registration fee. The 2012 conference call letter will provide detailed information about the conference.