Gender equality and union solidarity will be topic number one at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s 11th annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) conference on March 7-8 at the East Brunswick Hilton.
The preeminent statewide union-women’s leadership conference in the country, WILD is quickly garnering national attention as a model for fostering new labor movement leaders. This year’s theme, “The War on Women, Unions Fight Back,” will end with more than 200 newly trained and empowered women leaders ready to lead the fight for workplace equality and family issues.
The WILD conference brings together union women from every corner of the state and all sectors of the labor movement.
“Women still find themselves falling behind in the workplace, and the way we fight back is by using our collective energy to push issues of earned sick leave, quality health care, and equal pay,” says Laurel Brennan, Secretary-Treasurer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “This conference will empower and educate union women to strategize, organize, and overcome these challenges. WILD women will be tomorrow’s leaders not only at home, in the workplace, and in their communities, but in town halls, statehouses, Congress, and beyond.”
Because the debate on core women’s issues does not only take place at the workplace and around dinner tables, but also on the Internet, the WILD conference will teach women to become social media thought leaders and activists. That focus is especially geared towards the new generation of union members.
“The labor movement has always been a movement for women,” says Elizabeth Shuler, national AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, and a keynote speaker at this year’s conference. “So it’s important we’re training women leaders to communicate with the next generation through new and creative outlets. We need to go digital and make sure that future women leaders hear our message and understand how collective action builds women’s power.”
At the conference, to be held March 7-8, 2014 at the Hilton East Brunswick, workshops are designed to produce a corps of frontline advocates who will be the leaders who carry the women’s equality agenda into workplaces and share their stories of how unions have played a historic role empowering women. Attendees will help to develop strategies and leadership skills to advance the cause of equality and union solidarity.
A special focus of this year’s WILD conference will be the issue of earned sick leave, which would have a tremendous impact on working women across the state. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is a founding partner of the 256-member Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc. That coalition led last year’s successful statewide campaign to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage, and was recently asked by legislative leadership to take the lead in a new effort for a statewide earned sick leave law.
In addition to Shuler, other keynote speakers include Connecticut State AFL-CIO president Lori Pelletier, and Terry O’Neill, National NOW president.
“It is an honor to come back to New Jersey to help organize the strong women who are going to be tomorrow’s leaders in the women’s equality movement,” says O’Neill, an attorney, professor and activist, who has been president of NOW since 2009. “Union women know how to organize, and when they come out of WILD they will have an entire toolkit from which to engage and push the public behind the pro-women and pro-working family issues we all support.”
Click here for more information about the 11th annual WILD Conference.