2017 Minnesota Union Women & Femmes Retreat

“Using Our Experiences & Identities to Build Power”

April 19 - 21, 2017
Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge
Brainerd Lakes Area

Learn more about the Retreat, on-line registration, and how to make reservations at Ruttgers here

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2015 Union Women's Retreat brought together a record crowd

Some 160 women took part in the 2015 Minnesota Union Women’s Retreat coordinated by the Labor Education Service. The diverse group brought new experiences and energy to the fourth of these biennial retreats.

A panel of leaders set the tone when they urged women to step up in their organizations.

Picture of a Women's Retreat panelistsModerated by Leanne Kunze, organizing director of AFSCME Council 65, the panel included Shar Knutson, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO; Tee McClenty, executive director of the Minnesota School Employees Association; Mary Cathryn Ricker, national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers; and Stacy Spexet, president of United Steelworkers Local 9460, the largest Steelworkers’ local in Minnesota.

Picture from 2015 Women's RetreatOther panels and presentations focused on “Understanding the Attack on Worker Rights,” “Worker Organizing and the Impact on Women” and “Women’s Issues Across Generations.”

Each participant attended two workshops from a list of four that included building power for bargaining, addressing workplace bullying, bridging the generation gap and learning from labor history.


Picture from 2015 Women's RetreatIn between sessions, participants had many opportunities to network and form relationships among their various organizations and communities.

Keynote speaker Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, closed the retreat with a spirited discussion of the ways workers are challenging the low wages and poor working conditions in the hospitality industry. She urged participants to take part in her organization’s campaigns for “one fair wage” http://rocunited.org/one-fair-wage/ and to support restaurants that operate with sustainable labor practices. http://rocunited.org/consumer-action/

Photo of workshop at 2015 Women's Retreat

The Labor Education Service thanks the many facilitators, presenters and volunteers who made the retreat possible, as well as the organizations that provided financial support for scholarships and programming: Minnesota AFL-CIO, Education Minnesota, AFSCME Local 22, IBEW Local 110 and the law firm of Sieben Carey.




Download materials from the Retreat

General sessions

Understanding Attacks on Worker Rights (1.08 MB) (PowerPoint)


MAPE Anti-Bullying Campaign (115.63 KB)
Respectful Workplace Policy
Labor History Timeline
Labor History Handout
Mobilizing and Building Power for Bargaining
Mobilizing and Building Power for Bargaining: Asking, Involving, Engaging, and Connecting

Web resource links

How the Rise of Women in Labor Could Save the Movement (the Nation)
Racial Inequality Significant Across All Areas, Report Finds (Philanthropy News Digest)
What happens when you find out a year of college costs $71,000 (Washington Post)
The Changing Face of the Heartland (The Brookings Essay)