How women have made our unions better

The role of women in America’s unions will be examined at the 37th Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Labor History Society, Saturday, April 7, at Laborers Local 113 Hall in Milwaukee.

Entitled, “Women and the Labor Movement: The Quest for Gender Equity and Lessons for the Future,” the conference will review the history of women in the workplace and in their unions, the present status of women unionists and prospects for the future.

Annelise Orleck, professor of history at Dartmouth College and historian and author on

Prof. Annelise Orleck

women’s and workplace issues, will open the conference.

Women workers from various occupations (industrial, construction, service and public) will give testimonies on their experiences.  They will be describing the challenges they faced both in the workplace and often within their own unions.  Panelists include Sue Silverstein, an instructor at MATC and construction tradeswoman; Jennifer Froh, a member of Ironworkers Local 8 and president of “Sisters of Iron;” Breahn Quigley-Knackert, Steelworkers Union representative; Barbara Follman, AFSCME retired, and others to be named later.

The conference will wind up with a session entitled “The Road to Gender Equity in the Workplace,” in which various union leaders and activists will discuss the steps needed to better involve women workers.  Scheduled to participate are Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO; Pam Fendt, president of Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Kim Kohlhaas, president, AFT-Wisconsin; Angela Lang, executive director of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC); Anna Dvorak, Citizen Action Wisconsin, and Jacklyn Kelly, president of AFSCME Local 526 and member of MALC Young Workers Committee.

The all-day conference will include an awards ceremony, including the presentation of the 2018 Solidarity Award to a long-time unionist for lifetime achievement.  Also, student winners of high school essay contest will receive their honors.  Lunch and refreshments will be served.

The conference is open to all interested persons.  The Laborers Hall is located at 6310 W. Appleton Ave., Milwaukee.  Registration fees are $35, with a special rate for students.    Click for details and registration information.