Two UE-backed candidates, both women in their 30s, made history and shook up Pittsburgh’s political establishment by winning primary elections on May 15th against incumbent state legislators. Both of the defeated incumbents are members of the Costa family which has, until recently, played an outsized role in Democratic Party politics in Pittsburgh. Speaking to the UE Eastern Region, Local 610 President Antwon Gibson described the Costas as “a family of politicians who don't do anything for working people.” No Republicans have filed to run in either district.
UE Political Action Updates
“Aplaudimos al Senador Sanders y al congresista Pocan por dar vida a esta iniciativa de la WDA”, señaló el Presidente General de UE Peter Knowlton, quien atendía una conferencia de prensa sobre esta propuesta legislativa. “Los derechos de los trabajadores son valores fundamentales para toda democracia. Es fundamental que los laborantes una robusta protección legal en sus derechos a la organización, negociación colectiva y acuerdos contractuales, estos son medios para la resolución de conflictos. Esta legislación proporcionará una mayor fortaleza en la protección legal de los derechos esenciales: derecho a la expresión, a reunión y a la organización”.
“We applaud Senator Sanders and Congressman Pocan for filing the Workplace Democracy Act legislation,” said UE General President Peter Knowlton, who attended the press conference announcing the legislation. “Workers’ rights are core values of any democracy. Providing strong uncompromising legal protection for workers to organize, gain a collective bargaining agreement, and resolve conflicts with their employer are fundamental. This legislation will provide workers with stronger legal protections to exercise their basic first amendment rights: to speak, assemble, and to organize.”
UE welcomes the “Panmunjom Declaration” agreement between South Korea and North Korea. In the early 1950s, delegates to UE conventions called for negotiations to end the Korean War. In a similar vein, we urge the U.S. government, which along with China will be a party to formal talks to end the war, to pursue the path of peace and diplomacy, withdraw its nuclear preemptive strike policy, and discontinue military exercises in the region involving nuclear strategic assets. UE delegates have consistently supported this approach as part of our convention resolution, “For Jobs, Peace, and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy.”
UE General Counsel Irene Thomas attended the February 26 arguments of Janus v. AFSCME at the U.S. Supreme Court.
On February 26, 2018, the long-awaited face-off between the American Labor Movement and the national right-to-work committee took place at the United States Supreme Court. The case: Janus v. AFSCME. At issue is whether public employee unions can collect “fair share” or “agency shop” fees from objecting non-members to defray the cost of collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment. Regardless of whether the issue is one of free speech or freedom of association, a principled application of Supreme Court precedent means that plaintiff Mark Janus should pay up for the benefits he takes home on the backs of his dues-paying co-workers.
The “conviction” and jailing of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Brazilian labor movement and Workers Party candidate for President in the upcoming election this fall, is a travesty and crime against the people of Brazil and working people around the world. Lula, who served as President of Brazil from 2004-2012, has been jailed by a right-wing, anti-worker government without evidence or proof.
UE General President Peter Knowlton sent the following letter today to the president of the Mexican Senate, Ernesto Cordero, asking him to withdraw a bill that would make it harder for Mexican workers to organize independent trade unions. Improving wages and labor standards of Mexican workers is crucial to a North American Free Trade Agreement that improves the lives of working people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
El Proyecto de Solidaridad Norte Americana, una iniciativa conjunta entre UE y Unifor, el más grande sindicato del sector privado de Canadá, sostuvo una reunión de alto nivel de estudio sobre acción política, en marzo pasado. Dirigentes y personal de ambos sindicatos estudiaron los retos de los sindicatos, de la clase trabajadora, de la acción política, en esta era de ascendentes posiciones populistas de la derecha, y del abandono de los trabajadores, por parte de los partidos que dicen representarlos.
The North American Solidarity Project, a joint project of UE and Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, held a high-level study group meeting on union political action in March. Leaders and staff from both unions discussed the challenges of independent, working-class political action in an age of rising right-wing populism and abandonment of workers by the parties that claim to represent working-class interests.
The UE News spoke this week with Professor Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center about rising inequality in America, shortly before he joined Senator Bernie Sanders, filmmaker Michael Moore and Senator Elizabeth Warren for a National Town Hall Meeting on Monday, March 19th. Watch the video on Facebook here.