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UE: A Remarkable Example

January 29, 2024

We are republishing this article written by retired UE Political Action Director Chris Townsend about our union’s history, principles and importance to the broader labor movement.

In late March of 1936, a stalwart group of unionists in the electrical and radio manufacturing industries gathered in snowy Buffalo, New York, to found what quickly became the third largest union in the CIO upsurge. The various streams of unionism that converged in Buffalo represented the grizzled union diehards in the manufacturing shops of some of the biggest corporations in the country; General Electric, General Motors, Westinghouse, and RCA among them. It also included new faces, young militants, workers energized by the overall left-wing growth in response to the catastrophe of the Great Depression.

New Book Describes Workers’ Efforts to “Claim the City”

November 16, 2023

In his new book Claiming the City: A Global History of Workers’ Fight for Municipal Socialism, labor historian Shelton Stromquist describes how, following a “global strike wave” in the late nineteenth century, workers turned to municipal politics in an effort to improve their lives. Cities were the places where workers and their families worked, lived, and suffered from low wages and long hours, poor and crowded housing conditions, adulterated and expensive food, and other indignities. They were also the places where workers experienced social solidarity, and could imagine using their greater numbers to transform their lives by participating in the political process.

CIO, Founded 85 Years Ago, Brought “Liberation” to U.S. Workers

November 14, 2023

Eight-five years ago today, the founding convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) opened in Pittsburgh. For years, new types of workers — workers in the mass-production industries long deemed “unorganizable” by many in the American Federation of Labor (AFL) — had been organizing new unions, often independently of the conservative craft unions that dominated the AFL. Like today, many of these struggles were led by young workers.

“Building Strike Power” Convention Held in City of Steel ... and Strikes

October 7, 2023

UE’s 78th Convention was held in Pittsburgh, a city that is not only home to the union’s national office but also to a rich history of worker organizing and strikes. From the 1840s to today, the women and men whose labor built this city struggled — and often struck — to reclaim a share of the wealth their labor produced.

August 3, 2023

Today marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most violent attacks on a UE picket line in history. On August 3, 1948, 1,500 national guards, armed with tear gas, machine guns, and tanks, arrived in Dayton, Ohio to suppress a strike by 600 UE members at the Univis Lens plant. The workers voted to strike after their employer refused to offer even a single cent in wage increases during contract negotiations.

14,000 Graduate Workers Join UE in First Four Months of 2023

June 3, 2023

Between January and April, over 14,000 graduate workers on five campuses across the country voted to join UE — all by margins of over 80 percent.

Graduate workers work in labs and offices and classrooms, performing the labor that makes universities run. They do research, teach, and grade papers. Their wages are rarely sufficient to live on. Many are subjected to harassment by their supervisors, who are often also their academic advisors. All of them need a union.

Largest First-Contract Wins in 25 Years at Two New Mexico Universities

February 3, 2023

Following ratification of first contracts by members of UE Local 1466-United Graduate Workers at the University of New Mexico and UE Local 1498-Graduate Workers United at New Mexico State University, thousands of graduate workers in the state are now covered by collective bargaining agreements. Both locals joined UE in historic “card check” drives at the beginning of the pandemic and have overwhelmingly ratified first contracts in mid-December, earning 7.12 percent and 6.8 percent raises, respectively, for their members.

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