In 1973, seven women activists from seven different unions put out the idea of a union women's coalition. The seven included m Addie Wyatt, a packinghouse workers' leader; Clara Day, a Teamsters Union leader; and Florence Criley, an electrical workers' leader. Soon they were joined by Barbara Merrill, a welfare worker and a founder of Black Labor Leaders of Chicago. Their work culminated in a national convention to form a "Coalition of Labor Union Women" . The convention opened in Chicago on March 22, 1974.
Eight hundred women were expected but 3,200 came. Many were young; some like participant Bea Lumpkin, not so young. Almost all had come at their own expense. Some thought it was a near miracle that so many women participated. It was no miracle. The mass sentiment was there. Union women were fired up and "not taking it anymore." The ground work had been laid in well-attended regional conferences. Lumpkin got into the action earlier in 1973, at the Midwest Regional Conference of Union Women. It was attended by 200 women from 20 different national unions and from 18 states. Men were invited to join too, to help fight for women's rights. Frank Lumpkin , was one of the first to join CLUW. 
Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago
Circa late 1982, members of the Citizens Committee/Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago (in formation) included Barbara Merrill.
Barbara Merrill, was a member of Democratic Socialists of America.