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Women of Steel Meet the Cuban 5

The case of the Cuban 5 is known by unions across Canada, Grea Britain and other countries because on several occasions the mothers and wives of the Five have been invited to speak at labor conferences in those countries. And now in the United States, for the first time, hundreds of women from the United Steelworkers (USW) got to hear about the injustice committed against the Five and their families.

The United Steelworkers (USW) 2013 Women of Steel Conference (WOS) took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from March 9th to March 13th. It included plenary sessions, and workshops with a wide range of themes including, among others, trade, media and communication, health care, along with legislative and political related issues.

On the last day of the conference, during the plenary session with international guests, Karen Cole, from Unite the union of Great Britain, addressed the audience and thanked the USW for giving them space to have a stall with information about the case of the Cuban 5 at the conference. When she mentioned that two of the wives of the Cuban 5 have been denied visas by the U.S. government to visit their incarcerated husbands a woman from the audience loudly shouted “Shame”. Cole then proceeded to raised an Obama Give me Five postcard and asked all those at the plenary to send one to Obama when they got home.

The fraternal relations between the USW and their sister union UNITE in Britain made the presence of the Cuban 5 possible at this women’s caucus conference. Last May the case of the Cuban 5 was raised at the 25th International Convention of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that gathered in Denver, Colorado.

Once again the Cuba Solidarity Campaign of Great Britain and the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 of the United States, joined forces in Pittsburgh to bring awareness about the case to this important conference of women in organized labor. Representative of both committees distributed packages with information to the 800 participants and talked one-on-one with a number of delegates. The conference provided an opportunity to share with women the suffering that the families of the Five have had to endure.

Many of the delegates showed interest by signing up to receive information in the future, and committed themselves to bringing the case of the Cuban 5 to their workplaces as awareness of the case continues to expand to new audiences.

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