Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour over six years. It would also phase out the degrading “tipped minimum wage” of $2.13 for tipped workers, and ensure that the minimum wage would continue to keep pace with inflation by automatically increasing the minimum wage in line with the median wage increase of all workers.
UE Political Action Updates
On June 28-30, UE leaders and staff participated in the 3rd Labor Network for Sustainability Climate Convergence in Chicago. General President Peter Knowlton, Northeast Region President Autumn Martinez, and Western Region President Carl Rosen were joined by Local 506 President Scott Slawson, Local 1177 President Larry Hopkins, and Local 1118 President Delores Phillips.
Weak labor laws, employers’ ability to break what laws there are with impunity, and anti-worker courts and labor boards have made it all but impossible for American workers to organize strong unions. As members of recently-organized UE shops know, it takes a heroic effort to withstand the barrage of company propaganda, captive audience meetings, one-on-one sessions and other techniques that bosses, advised by a whole industry of professional union-busters, use to convince, bully or bribe their workers into staying non-union (and exploited).
Two new bills in Congress would go a long way to redressing this unequal power balance between workers and bosses.
UE members, leaders, and staff attended a packed Labor-Environment forum on Saturday, June 8 at the historic Pump House in Homestead, just outside of Pittsburgh.
Over a hundred local union leaders, members, retirees and representatives of community and environmental organizations spent the afternoon discussing the Green New Deal and how to work together to demand that this be a worker and union centered new deal. State Representatives Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato and US Congressman Mike Doyle were also in attendance.
The 2020 presidential primary and general elections will be of historic importance for workers, our union, the labor movement, and our country. The issues that will define these elections are already becoming clear. Union members and locals need to inform ourselves about the issues and the candidates, their records and visions for the community and the country.
The UE General Executive Board encourages UE members and locals to participate fully in discussions about the challenge of climate change and the eventual replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy, and participate in the movements and organizations proposing solutions. We have an incredible opportunity to transform our society to a more worker-supportive and community-controlled economy and nation. We must not waste this opportunity.
On Friday, May 24, Local 1107 Vice President Joni Anderson, Local 1121 Financial Secretary Charlene Winchell, Local 1161 President Sharry Neidfeldt and Field Organizer Jason Whisler took the UE policy of “Healthcare for All” to the office of Congressman Ron Kind. Following up on UE members’ attendance at Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s “Congressional Cafe” earlier this month, a delegation consisting of Local 1135 President Malik Grant, Local 1111 Retiree Association Vice-President Ted Krukowski and Western Region President Carl Rosen met with the congresswoman’s Milwaukee staff on Tuesday, May 28.
On Saturday, May 18, UE members from Milwaukee-area Locals 1135 and 1172 attended a “Congressional cafe” hosted by Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee to urge the congresswoman to support HR 1384, the Medicare For All Act of 2019.
UE leaders have been taking UE’s message that the Green New Deal must include action for good, union jobs to Green New Deal meetings. On May 4, UE General President Peter Knowlton spoke at a town hall meeting in Philadelphia organized by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. In Erie, PA Local 506 Vice President/Recording Secretary Tom Bobrowicz was a featured speaker at a May 6 town hall meeting on “The Road to the Green New Deal.”
On Wednesday, April 24, State Representative Zack Hawkins Durham) and State Senator Wiley Nickel (Wake) announced that they are introducing legislation to overturn North Carolina's ban on public-sector collective bargaining, a goal long sought by members of UE Local 150. “We need to end this Jim Crow-era public-sector employee law,” said Nickel. “Public employees deserve equal treatment under the law and now is the time to give it to them.”