Fifty years ago, African-American sanitation workers in Memphis stood up for dignity, striking to demand recognition of their union — and their humanity.
UE NEWS Features
This UE News Feature was originally written in 2002. With President Trump's announcement this week that he intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, we are re-publishing it to give UE members and our allies important background on the Middle East. -Ed.
The Middle East, the home of ancient civilizations and holy lands — and war. The crises of the Middle East seem to defy understanding or solution.
Politicians talk endlessly about jobs, but few seem to understand what UE members know from our own workplaces: good jobs do not come from the generosity of bosses, but from the hard work and creativity of working people, organized into strong unions and backed up by good public policy.
The progressive, nonpartisan think tank The Century Foundation aims to change the national conversation about jobs, especially in manufacturing, with their new “High-Wage America Project.”
To mark Women’s History Month, the UE NEWS interviewed former UE General Secretary-Treasurer Amy Newell.
Her parents, Charles and Ruth Newell, were both UE staff members when she was a child. Her father was one of the first three organizers hired by UE in 1936 and her mother became a UE organizer during World War II.
An unexpected commotion disrupted routine in a busy city center on an April morning one hundred years ago. Armed men commandeered the main post office in a major city in the world’s most powerful empire. One of their leaders interrupted the musings and conversations of those going about their business by reading out a proclamation declaring an Irish Republic.
The Easter Rising of 1916 was underway.
In December 1952, under a front page banner headline, the UE NEWS reported that Harold Ward had been freed. Who was Harold Ward? A previous issue of the UE NEWS carried a photo of Ward and noted that he was financial secretary of UE-FE (Farm Equipment) Local 108 at International Harvester in Chicago. In October, in the seventh week of a strike at the company, he was arrested and charged with the murder of a non-striker. But as Local 108 President Matt Halas explained: “The reason Ward was accused is clear.
One reason unions are so important is that they provide a voice to working people in a society that is dominated by profit-seeking corporations. Labor newspapers, other publications and communications organs are, at their best, an alternative news media for working people and their organizations. But in recent years, as unions have faced hardship and attacks, the number of union publications has fallen. Some would also argue that the quality and independence of the labor press has also declined in recent decades.
During his years as a local union officer and as a UE organizer, union members nicknamed Ernest Thompson “The Train” because of his ability “to deliver” in negotiations. In 1943 Thompson came out of his shop, American Radiator in New Jersey, to become the first African American organizer on the UE staff. In March of 1947 he took a leave from the national staff to become business agent for UE Local 427, and he was elected vice president and later executive secretary of the Hudson County CIO Industrial Union Council.
At a November 1968 class for stewards and local officers in Latrobe, PA, James Matles, one of UE’s founding officers and then secretary-treasurer, talked about how the youth rebellion of the 1960s was beginning to affect industry and unions. “The young people in the shops are involved in a revolt of their own, which is growing day by day… The young worker doesn’t give a damn for the company’s shop rules and he drives the foremen crazy.
Members of Local 243 gathered on Saturday evening, November 1 at a banquet hall to celebrate their local's 75th anniversary. You can see a photo album of that event on UE's Facebook page. The Spring 2014 issue of the UE NEWS included the following piece on Local 243's distinguished history.
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