Many participants were college students. A large number came from New York and New Jersey.
The conference included a plenary panel on womens health and reproductive rights, as well as workshops, such as Privatizing Social Security: The Economic Security Threat of a Lifetime, and Immigrant Women: Sisters in the Struggle.
Forty-five people attended the only workshop held in Spanish, titled U.S. Terrorism, which included discussion on racist discrimination and police harassment of immigrants. Zenaida Mendez, one of the conference organizers, told the final plenary session that participants in the workshop called for more translation into Spanish at the next conference. Mendez is Director of Racial Diversity Programs for the NOW Foundation.
A contingent of 28 members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1033 took part. The majority are office workers for the state of New Jersey. Several work for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Trenton.
Karine, one of the DMV workers, described harassment since Sept. 11, 2001. This office has 14 workers, almost all of whom are female and Black, she said. The state has installed 18 cameras fixed on the workers as they complete forms for drivers licenses, to prevent fraud. The state also hired investigators, mainly former state troopers who are white, who look over and often lean onto the shoulders of workers as they prepare the license, Karine said.
In mid-March, an investigator accused one of the workers of falsifying a license, Karine said, then strip-searched her, and had her handcuffed and arrested. She is now out on $25,000 bond. Her co-workers are working to have their union take up the case and are making plans for a news release and a picket line.
All those who registered for the conference were invited to attend the NOW national conference, scheduled for July 1-3 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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