Under the slogan, “UE: The Union for Everyone,” delegates from UE locals across the country met in Pittsburgh from August 25-29 for UE’s 76th National Convention. UE members made several historic decisions: unanimously endorsing Bernie Sanders for President, becoming the first union with significant manufacturing membership to endorse the “Green New Deal,” and reaffirming UE’s long-held support for single-payer healthcare, now commonly referred to as “Medicare for All.”
On Monday morning, August 26, UE convention delegates voted unanimously to endorse Bernie Sanders for President.
“We live in dangerous times,” declared UE Director of Organization Gene Elk as he introduced the organizing report to the Convention on Monday afternoon. “The National Labor Relations Board, which was originally established to help organize unions, has been turned over to the union-busters that seek to destroy us” and “income inequality is skyrocketing, as stock prices continue at record levels and good-paying jobs disappear.”
Delegates to UE’s 76th Convention reaffirmed the union's longstanding commitment to Medicare for All, unanimously endorsing a resolution on Tuesday morning declaring that “the U.S. employer-based private health insurance system is a disaster” and demanding that Congress pass H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019.
The commitment to international solidarity that is a core UE value was on display at the convention, as guests from Canada, Mexico, Italy and Japan joined UE members to celebrate victories, share experiences and reaffirm solidarity.
UE convention delegates debated and adopted resolutions on Wednesday morning committing the union to a strong stand against racism, sexism, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolutions declare that racism “has always been a roadblock to building a strong labor movement,” that “until women have full and equal rights, all workers are held back,” and that “homophobia and transphobia keep us divided and weaken the labor movement.”
Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, addressed the convention on Wednesday morning. The Sunrise Movement is the youth-led climate justice organization that put the concept of a “Green New Deal” on the political agenda with an audacious occupation of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office in November of last year.
On Monday, August 26, UE held a new convention event highlighting women’s leadership in honor of former UE organizer Florence Criley. Former UE General Secretary-Treasurer Amy Newell was a featured speaker at this sold-out fundraising luncheon.
Eastern Region president Donna Morgan gave remarks about Criley, who was an organizer with UE for 30 years. She was known as a tireless organizer of unorganized workers as well as a crusader in our shops battling against a bad boss or a raiding union.
Delegates to UE’s 76th Convention, meeting in Pittsburgh, elected Western Region President Carl Rosen to be the next General President of the union.
Rosen has been a member of UE since 1984 when he joined UE Local 190 in Chicago upon being hired at Kerr Glass. He worked at Kerr for 10 years as a maintenance electrician and served in various positions for the local including steward. During that time he was elected to the UE District 11 executive board and then, in 1990, to the position of secretary-treasurer, at which point he began serving on the UE General Executive Board. In 1994, Rosen was elected as UE District 11 President and went to work full-time for the union. When District 11 was succeeded by the Western Region in 2006, Rosen was elected as regional president, the position he continues to hold today.