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.”
UE NEWS Updates
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.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias addressed the UE convention on Sunday morning. “When I come here,” Dias said, “I feel like I’m at home” because “our unions have so much in common.”
UE’s 76th Convention was joined by more guests from other unions than any other UE convention in recently memory. Leaders and young activists from the other U.S. and Canadian unions that make up the North American Solidarity Project — Unifor, the Utility Workers Union of America, National Nurses United and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — joined the convention in various capacities, as did Chris Townsend of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Jenny Craig, a rank-and-file leader of the historic 2018 and 2019 West Virginia teachers’ strikes and president of the Ohio County Education Association, addressed the convention on Monday morning.
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.
As the strike by almost 50,000 General Motors workers heads into its fourth week — with UAW officials reporting that talks have “taken a turn for the worse” — a UE delegation visited the UAW Local 1005 picket lines in Parma, Ohio on Saturday.
Shortly after UE’s 2017 convention, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. While most U.S. news outlets lost interest in the story after a month or two, the island has yet to fully recover. In May, Northeast Region President Autumn Martinez spent two weeks on the island as a volunteer, helping to repair homes. The UE NEWS spoke with her in July about her trip and the conditions she found there.
Over the two weeks of their fall membership drive, UE Local 896-COGS volunteers and organizers signed up 40 new members in this right-to-work state. Local 896 represents the graduate employees at the University of Iowa.
Sheila Wanzer, a teaching aide in Winslow and a member of the UE organizing committee at the private contractor ESS, told the UE Convention in August, “We're fighting this battle and we're not giving up until we win!” On Tuesday, September 24, Wanzer and her co-workers voted to join UE in a National Labor Relations Board election.
ESS employs approximately 200 paraprofessionals, bus aides, and after-school aides under contract with the Winslow School District. Winslow paraprofessionals were at one time public employees who had decent wages, benefits, and working conditions as school district direct hires.
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