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PEP May 2006
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Public Employee Press

DC 37 celebrates Women’s History Month:
Still pushing for parity

May 10 Labor History Panel

 

Topic: The working women’s movement and the struggle to achieve racial and sexual equality in the workplace. Speakers include Nancy MacLean, author of
“Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace” and
Alice Kessler-Harris, author of “In Pursuit of Equity.”
6 p.m., 125 Barclay Street, Room 5.
Sponsor: Women’s Committee of the Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375.

 



Members of the DC 37 Women’s Committee include Committee Chair Walthene Primus (front, right) with the honorees of the evening, Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Hinds Radix and Civil Court Judge Sylvia G. Ash at the March 24 event. Sirra Crippen, newly-elected president of Parks Gardeners Local 1507, was also honored.

Local 375 President Claude Fort joins members of the Women’s Committee and honored speakers on stage. The program put the spotlight on the need to push for parity in nontraditional jobs.

By JANE LaTOUR

For Women’s History Month, DC 37 found many ways to celebrate women’s lives and the work they contribute in their careers, communities and unions.

Real Estate Employees Local 1219 got off to an early start with a Feb. 18 program that explored women’s health issues. The Women’s Committee of Municipal Hospital Employees Union Local 420 organized their first weekend retreat March 10 through 12. Members who attended learned about health matters, stress prevention and the history of their union.

On March 17, the Women’s Committee of MTA Clerical-Administrative EmployeesLocal 1655 held an evening program that addressed issues of concern to all members, including domestic violence, AIDS, and the work of Habitat for Humanity.

On March 8, the Women’s Committee of Social Service Employees Union Local 371 presented a program on “Cultural Diversity — A Woman’s Point of View.” Two local members described their experiences working in foreign lands. Rachele Shamesh, originally from Iran, worked in the United Kingdom. Laila Ahmed, a native of Sudan, worked in the United Arab Emirates and then attended college in the United States and the United Kingdom, where she held many different jobs. Ms. Ahmed, an engineer, spoke about her experiences as a police officer in the UAE, where female officers are unarmed and worked exclusively with women.

Speakers invited by the local’s Women’s Committee addressed the delegates of Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375 March 15. Deputy Commissioner Fatma Amer, a native of Egypt, spoke about her career as an Engineer at the Department of Buildings. “We have to encourage our daughters and push them towards challenges,” she said.


Local 371 Women’s Committee Co-chair Faye Moore (l.) made the point that, “Women in the City’s workforce come from everywhere in the world.” The program on cultural diversity in the workplace featured speakers Rachele Shamesh (center), from Iraq, and Laila Ahmed, from Sudan and the UAE.

Keynote speaker Captain Brenda Berkman told of the tough situation the city’s first female Firefighters faced in 1982. “For 10 years, we had a really difficult time,” said Berkman. “Where was our union?” she asked. “They fought us all the way.”

On March 28, a documentary about Berkman and the women of the FDNY aired nationally on public television. “Taking the Heat” shows what these pioneers endured. “The women in these nontraditional jobs, in firefighting, in construction, even in your own union, are doing the job,” Berkman said. “Give us your support. Be forward looking.”

Local 1655 Women's Committee member Doris Overton with her son James, and his friend, Shawnette Blakey, at the March 17 forum on women “Making a Difference.”

Breaking down barriers
After the meeting, Local 375’s Mike Kenny told Berkman he appreciated her work in removing barriers for women. “Thanks to you and women like you, my daughter is going to Annapolis next year,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner and Engineer Fatma Amer, Dept. of Buildings.






On March 8, Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 rolled out the welcome mat for the legendary New Yorker Melba Moore. The star delighted members with her one-woman show about her life. Moore’s song and play, both named, “I’m Still Here,” testify to her trials and achievements as a black artist.

On March 24, the DC 37 Women’s Committee honored two outstanding union women who excelled as lawyers: newly elected Civil Court Judge Sylvia G. Ash and state Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Hinds Radix. “Within DC 37, we have women who have risen to places of prominence,” said Committee Chair Walthene Primus. “The years they spent at the union fighting for the members gave them a solid foundation to venture out successfully.”

As befitting a union representing computer personnel, Local 2627 used the Internet to link their members to some labor history specifically related to women. They also held their first on-line raffle to celebrate Women’s History Month. Prizes went to eight winners, who got their choice of either a Rosie the Riveter mug or a mouse pad. Local 2627 member Cynthia Perkins vowed, “I’ll find new ways to increase my activism and I’ll take more note of our positive movers and shakers.”

Right: Local 1549 celebrated Women's History Month on March 8 with a performance by the legendary Melba Moore. Ms. Moore was born in New York City in 1945. She appeared on Broadway in Hair, and in the musical Purlie. She began her successful career singing gospel, blues, and standard hits as a music teacher, which was “very fulfilling.” But she gave it all up to be a star.


 

 

 

 

 
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