On Sunday, April 26, UE Young Activists and other UE members participated with thousands of other people in a march in New York City for a nuclear-free, just, and sustainable world. This year is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The United Nations holds a conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty every five years, since the treaty went into effect in 1970.
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UE News Updates
After a years-long struggle culminating in a militant three-week strike from November 20 to December 16, the members of UE Local 279 at Weir Valves and Controls, have reached a settlement with their employer which includes the resolution of many outstanding disputes and the ratification of a new contract. Members ratified the settlement on March 6. The new three-year contract provides wage increases of 1.5 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent and stops the company’s attempt to roll back several contractual protections.
At the end of a tough seven-month battle, fought with creative tactics and enthusiastic membership involvement, UE Local 896 won a new two-year contract with the University of Iowa that achieves partial reimbursement of student fees and extends 100 percent tuition scholarship to graduate employees in the College of Education. The contract also provides wage increases of 1 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year; blocks concessions sought by the administration; and lowers health premiums for single parents.
In the 1970s, salaried women workers at Erie GE fought important battles for workplace equality, including two strikes in 1974 and ’75 in which they demanded equal pay for equal work. The participants in these struggles were predominantly young women, and they were influenced by the ideas of the feminist movement as well as by UE’s long-established principles of equality and rank-and-file unionism.
Before contract negotiations began, the members of Local 222, Sub-local 9, the New Fairfield Board of Education custodians, maintenance and groundskeepers, told their bargaining committee they needed significant wage gains. Their hourly wage rates were several dollars below those of comparable Connecticut school districts. Thanks to a strong committee and a unified membership, they were able to achieve that goal and settled a new four-year contract that runs through June 2018 and delivers the largest wage increases seen by this unit in many years.
The bargaining committee for Local 151 was very clear on what it was seeking when bargaining with Aetna Bearing Company began on September 22. But the company’s goals were very different, and over the next two and a half months, the committee and the members fought hard for improvements in wages and benefits.
UE Local 1135 ratified a new four year contract with the Tulip Corporation on December 22 after a contract campaign that included membership mobilization and a vote to strike. The battle became heated over raises and health insurance as well as fair treatment in the workplace. The auto parts company committed several unfair labor practices (ULPs) during bargaining, including unilaterally changing the health insurance.
UE Local 896-COGS (Committee to Organize Graduate Students), the union of graduate teaching assistants and research assistants at the University of Iowa, ratified a new two-year contract this week. They blocked the university's efforts to take back much of what they'd gained in past contracts, and instead made important gains in many areas, thanks to membership involvement.
During his years as a local union officer and as a UE organizer, union members nicknamed Ernest Thompson “The Train” because of his ability “to deliver” in negotiations. In 1943 Thompson came out of his shop, American Radiator in New Jersey, to become the first African American organizer on the UE staff. In March of 1947 he took a leave from the national staff to become business agent for UE Local 427, and he was elected vice president and later executive secretary of the Hudson County CIO Industrial Union Council.
After more than three weeks on strike, the members of UE Local 279 at Weir Valves and Controls returned to work today, Tuesday December 16, under the terms of the most recent “last, best and final offer” from the company, and a return to work agreement that was negotiated by the union and company on Monday. The members voted unanimously on Friday, December 12 to return to work under these terms, but at this point no contract is in place yet.