Local 249 women march for equal rights

By Cecelia Davis

“My body, my choice! My body, my choice!” echoed throughout the downtown plaza as a group of women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities banded together to demand Justice! The women in attendance created signs with strong messages and graphics to catch the attention of all gathered. Many women were brave enough to step on a stage and tell the stories of how their lives were forever changed in hopes of lifting the spirits of those present.

A group of women from UAW Local 249, coordinated by Amy Minich, a member of the UAW Local 249 CAP and Election Committees, attended this rally to show their support and agreement on the importance of women’s rights. The union has experience in fighting for what is right, even when it is not what’s popular. The UAW has supported civil and human rights even when faced with adversity and isn’t about to stop now. This rally was not just a march for the pro-choice, it was about women empowerment and equality.

The organizers of the rally, an organization called Women’s March, demand justice not only for themselves but for their fellow women. This justice comes in many forms, referred to as Unity Principles, each of which ties into the same ideals that make us proud to be part of the UAW.

These principles are ending violence, reproductive rights, LBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. Each of these unity principles can be tied to departments within the UAW, our standing committees, and beliefs of our union as well.

The women of UAW Local 249 heard about the most recent rally and knew they needed to be there. Minich communicated with the standing committees and found interest from all of them. The women met at the rally and were inspired to find over one hundred women fighting for justice and equality for all.

“This wasn’t just another event for me and my family. The fear of being sent back to the 1950’s is real and tangible for everyone, as is the strength of conviction that we need to have to not let this happen, not now or ever,” said Minich. “Sometimes you must speak truth to power with your whole body by showing up and speaking out in solidarity. I felt was the best way I could have my voice heard. I felt angry, empowered, and proud. Mostly angry that we’re still fighting the same way we’ve been fighting for decades.”

Minich believes the mission of the Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. The kind of change that will only come if we stand united. That is what brought Camalee Hefty, member of the UAW Local 249 CAP Committee, to the rally as well. “I believe it is my duty to attend Women’s Marches. As a woman I want to honor and show respect to women in the past that have fought so hard for us to have any rights. I feel like we owe it to all the brave women of the past and all of our daughters for a better future,” Hefty said.

The only way we can create the change we want to see is to vote out those who fight to oppress us and show up at the polls in strength of numbers. How can you as a member help fight for women’s justice? Join a standing committee, attend a rally, or find a local organization that stands with us in supporting equality and justice.

“Your vote is the loudest voice you have,” said Minich. “Showing up in support of what you believe in is your right and obligation not just as a member of this union but as a citizen.” So go out and make a change, “for your mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and to all who identify as a female.”