December 11, 2017

Women's Committee sets priorities at December meeting

Author: Kara Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications
NYSUT Women's Committee
Caption: Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

In a stirring address that encouraged attendees to “lead the way in political engagement, union engagement and voter engagement,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango welcomed scores of female union members to the first meeting of the NYSUT Women’s Committee.

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The committee, overseen by DiBrango’s office, seeks to educate members about the work of the union — whose membership is 76 percent female — and to highlight women-specific issues, including inequalities in pay, health care and education. Getting more female unionists involved in member retention and organizing in light of the Janus case looming before the U.S. Supreme Court is also a goal.

“We’re living through a very real, very painful but transformative moment for women in this country,” said DiBrango, noting the #MeToo campaign highlighting sexual harassment and national women’s marches. “I’m hoping this movement becomes a revolution where women, particularly labor women, lead the way.”

Recurring themes were helping women find their voices and better support one another; preparing more women to seek elected office; and combatting sexual harassment.

The group adopted four committee goals for the months ahead: developing a mentoring toolkit for young members; preparing a “Why in Five” card for women and men about sexual harassment; highlighting stories about female union members; and having a woman’s committee booth at the NYSUT Representative Assembly.

Following the success of the inaugural NYSUT Women’s Conference in March, “Speak Up, Stand Up, Step Up,” delegates to the 2017 Representative Assembly made the Ad Hoc Women's Steering Committee a permanent standing committee. The group is composed of NYSUT board members, local leaders and grassroots NYSUT activists.

For additional resources — including posters, handouts and photo galleries — visit