By Kim Huynh

Women union members are among the most active and forward-thinking members of the larger progressive movement. “We register voters and we encourage women to seek political office so that diversity is reflected in our representation,” said Nikki Linnerman, president, of the Central California chapter.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women, or CLUW, aims to strengthen and unify female presence within unions, as well as increase the involvement of women in the democratic process.

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So what has the chapter—incidentally one of CLUW’s most progressive, with over two dozen male members—been up to?
central CA CLUW

Helping Women:
*Central CA CLUW has helped support such nonprofits as New Haven in Modesto and W.E.A.V.E. in Sacramento by collecting items for survivors of domestic violence, and has assisted with outreach to female veterans in Fresno County to help them transition to civilian life.

Encouraging Political Engagement:
* The chapter is partnering with Mi Familia Vota, a national Arizona-based nonprofit to help turn out the Latina and Latino vote.
* In 2012, Central CA CLUW coordinated successful non-partisan voter registration drives across 11 counties, handing out more than 1,000 voter registration forms.

Empowering Women to Run:
* Union leaders know that women run for political office because they are asked. And though women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider it, less likely to actually run, significantly less likely to run for higher office—when women do run, they are just as likely to win. Central CA CLUW provides nonpartisan support and resources to potential female candidates. Last year, two of its members ran for the State Senate,  one for re-election as mayor, and four ran for their local Democratic Central Committees.  Members were also elected national delegates to their unions, and President Yvonne Walker of SEIU Local 1000, California’s largest state employee union, became VP of the California Labor Federation, which counts more than 1,200 AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions among its members.

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