Phillips Vows to Enhance Organizing Opportunities for Working Women
Long-time labor activist Susan L. Phillips was elected as the fourth National President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) on August 28, 2004. She succeeds Gloria Johnson, who served as CLUW president since 1993 and was the group’s treasurer since CLUW’s founding in 1974.
Phillips currently directs the Working Women’s Department of the 1.4 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and serves as UFCW International Vice President. She leads the union’s programs for mobilizing UFCW women and retirees, with major emphasis on organizing and political action.
“Susan Phillips is a dedicated leader for UFCW women and all working families. I am proud that she will share her skills, commitment and vision with union women throughout the labor movement,” said Joseph Hansen, UFCW International President. “Under Susan’s leadership, I know that CLUW will make even greater gains for working women across the country,” Hansen continued.
Women are nearly half of the labor movement, and experts predict that in the next 10 years, women will be the largest single force entering the job market.
“Studies show that when women are a majority in a workplace, they are more likely than men to vote to join a union. That’s why CLUW is needed more than ever,” Phillips observed.
“I will see that CLUW renews its efforts to advance the labor movement’s fundamental goal: organizing the unorganized. We will work to provide resources to the labor movement to target women workers for union organizing campaigns, and will vigorously support these campaigns directly and by mobilizing like-minded progressive groups for support,” said Phillips.
Under Phillips’s leadership, CLUW plans to make special efforts to reach out to young women, who are critically important to growing the labor movement.
“Working women have a number of key concerns for themselves and their families, including affordable health care, quality child and elder care, job security, and retirement income,” she said. “CLUW will continue to communicate with its members, other union activists, and working women – both union and nonunion – on these subjects, as well as advocating at all levels of government for progressive policies to improve the lives of working families.”"
“CLUW will build on its solid three-decade foundation of advocacy on behalf of working women to bring new energy to our founding principles: organizing unorganized workers, increasing women’s participation in their unions, promoting affirmative action in the workplace, and mobilizing for legislative action,” Phillips noted.
“CLUW is a key component of the labor movement’s future. We will continue to work closely with the other AFL-CIO constituency groups through the Labor Coalition for Community Action to formulate strategies, build alliances, and develop programs to strengthen and build our unions in the months and years ahead.”
Before coming to the UFCW in 1984, Phillips worked as a Legislative Representative for the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department, Public Information Director for the National Consumers League and Legislative Writer for the U.S. House of Representative’s Democratic Study Group.
In addition to CLUW, Phillips currently represents the UFCW on the boards a variety of groups, and has traveled extensively throughout the world speaking on behalf of the U.S. labor movement and teaching communications and leadership development programs to unionists abroad.
The UFCW is the nation’s largest private sector union and represents workers in industries dominated by women workers, such as retail and health care. More than half of all UFCW members are women and nearly one third are age 25 and under.