Paul Hall Center Hosts ITF Conference

November 2011

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The SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education hosted dozens of maritime union women leaders from across the globe Sept. 25-30. The attendees travelled to Piney Point, Md., to participate in the International Transport Workers’ Federation Women’s Conference on Leadership, Strategy and Organizing.

 

The ITF described the meeting as “a landmark conference” featuring 37 participants from 25 countries. Among the featured speakers were Dr. Elaine Bernard, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School (who helped organize and co-sponsored the event); AFL-CIO International Affairs Director Cathy Feingold; Norwegian Seafarers Union President Jacqueline Smith; and Barbara Shailor, special representative, International Labor Affairs, U.S. State Department. SIU President Michael Sacco and Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel (who chairs the Seafarers’ Section of the ITF) also addressed the group as the conference got started.

 

SIU participants included Port Agents Elizabeth Brown, Becky Sleeper and Tracey Mayhew, who also serves on the ITF’s Fisheries Section. Karen Horton-Gennette represented the SIU-affiliated Seafarers Entertainment and Allied Trades Union.

 

According to the ITF, the conference “provided maritime women leaders the opportunity to share experiences and tactics and strategize on how to further strengthen their unions and build women leaders.”

 

Smith stated, “The maritime industry is moving and changing. We’re losing members and losing jobs. We need to move and change and better equip our unions and our leaders to cope with the times. We need dynamic unions.”

 

The gathering concluded with attendees “using strategic planning tools to develop practical union action plans to tackle the challenges confronting maritime workers,” the ITF noted.

Alison McGarry, ITF Women’s Coordinator, commented, “The women developed strategic plans  – all of which are ultimately contributing to building union power and securing more wins for all workers, men and women.”

 

 

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