Although they were unable to gather in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 delegates from across the U.S., along with guests from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, nonetheless held a successful virtual event, with all of the inspiration, education, democracy and solidarity of a regular UE convention.
Leading Through Tough Times: 77th UE National Convention
UE 77th Convention Coverage
Video of convention speakers, organizing reports, and greetings from international guests is available on the UE YouTube Channel. Please hit the “SUBSCRIBE” button while watching UE videos on YouTube, so you get notified when we post new videos!
Although they were unable to gather in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 delegates from UE locals across the U.S. nonetheless held a successful virtual convention from September 20-24, with all of the inspiration, education, democracy and solidarity of a regular UE convention. They were joined by dozens of guests, including rank-and-file members, new UE members from recent organizing campaigns, retired UE officers and staff, and guests from allied unions Unifor (Canada) and the FAT (Mexico).
Guest speakers addressing the UE 77th convention included Unifor National President Jerry Dias, AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson, Congressman Jesus "Chuy" García, civil rights and public health leader Dr. Linda Murray, and retired UE Political Action Director Chris Townsend.
In his final organizing report to a UE convention before his retirement at the end of October, Director of Organization Gene Elk gave an overview of what he called “one of the most fruitful periods for organizing in UE that I can remember.
“Despite the pandemic and despite outrageous attacks on the labor movement, I am proud to say that organizing is alive and well in UE,” Elk told delegates “Neither the pandemic nor the attack from the right could stop us from carrying out UE’s mission to organize the unorganized.
In his organizing report to the 77th UE convention, Director of Organization Gene Elk gave an overview of what he called “one of the most fruitful periods for organizing in UE that I can remember.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made unions even more important for defending the interests and the very lives of workers, delegates to UE’s 77th Convention reported. UE leaders from across the country reported on their locals’ efforts to protect the health and safety of UE members — and, in many cases, the communities they serve.
Convention delegates overwhelmingly approved resolutions on Independent Rank-and-File Political Action and Medicare for All, recognizing, as the resolution on independent political action states, that “We need to continue to fight and organize independently from both major political parties and unite all workers around our class interests as workers.” Both resolutions embody long-standing UE policy.
“It's very important that we unite and come together and have conversations and talk about [topics that] none of us should be afraid to talk about,” said Antwon Gibson, Local 610, speaking on the resolution “Fight Racism.” That resolution, along with resolutions on the rights of women, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people, passed by overwhelming majorities. The resolutions inspired dozens of delegates to share their experiences and thoughts about the many ways that bosses use differences in skin color, gender, sexual orientation and national origin to divide working people, and how best to fight for working-class unity.
Because of UE’s commitment to member education, workshops made up a large part of Wednesday, the third day of convention.
On Wednesday afternoon, convention delegates watched video messages from UE allies from Japan, Italy, Quebec and Mexico. All of them reported how working people in their countries have had their lives disrupted by the pandemic, but are fighting for safe jobs and a secure future.
UE allies from Japan, Italy, Quebec and Mexico sent video greetings to the UE 77th Convention. All of them reported how working people in their countries have had their lives disrupted by the pandemic, but are fighting for safe jobs and a secure future.
During discussion of the resolution “Defend Our Civil Liberties,” Local 506 President Scott Slawson called on “our national, our regions, our locals and our members to take up the task of coming up with a plan to beat back all the bullsh-t we are facing from those that challenge our civil liberties and our very existence.”
As part of the cultural programming for the UE 77th Convention, the National Union asked retired UE NEWS Managing Editor Alan Hart to compile a selection of photographs from the last decade and a half of UE history.
Holding a successful online convention required a substantial amount of work by UE staff and leaders. As General President Carl Rosen noted at the conclusion of the convention, “Although we had made plans in the spring on how we would do a virtual convention if we needed to, it's one thing to have plans and it's totally another thing to carry them out, as we learned.”
UE NEWS Coverage of Past UE Conventions
Local Union Subsidy Program
The National Union, as approved by the General Executive Board (GEB) in January 2001, offers to eligible UE Locals convention hotel and lost time reimbursement for one delegate per local.
Remember, this is a reimbursement for expenses. Locals are expected to pay up front and the National Union will reimburse you for qualified expenses. See details below.
To qualify for the above convention reimbursement subsidies UE Locals must prove that they have no more than $10,000 in their General Fund accounts, which includes checking, savings and CDs. These eligibility requirements will be determined and verified with the information that is submitted on the Local’s quarterly audit report for the period April, May and June 2021. It is very important for all Locals to be up-to-date in the filing of these quarterly audit reports. There will be no other acceptable documentation for determining and verifying eligibility.
Reimbursement Subsidy Amount
Reimbursement will be made for four (4) days lost-time and four (4) days hotel room at the single/ double room rate of $145.00 + 14% tax. For delegates unable to drive in Sunday morning, a hotel subsidy will be paid for a fifth night. As in the past, the delegate must attend all of the convention sessions to have the subsidies paid.
To Receive Reimbursement
Subsidy forms will be available at the convention and Locals are to submit these completed forms with a voucher and hotel bill. Locals will have a 90-day time limit (from the last day of convention) to submit their subsidy reimbursement requests to the National Union. All requests received after this 90-day period will be denied.
Locals that are not in the financial position to follow these guidelines should contact General Secretary Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker at 412-471-8919 to make special arrangements. Please remember that we must have your quarterly audit report for April, May and June 2021 for any special arrangements to be considered.