UE's national officers and members of Locals 506, 601 and 618 traveled to Toronto on May 7 and 8 for the first meeting of the global General Electric Trade Union Network, hosted by UE's Canadian partner Unifor and organized by the global trade union federation IndustriALL.
Delegates to the Northeast Region’s council meeting at the end of April elected new leadership, honored retiring Regional President Ray Pompano for 53 years of service to UE, and discussed strategies to address sexual harassment and the upcoming Janus decision, which threatens to make all public-sector workplaces “right-to-work.”
Drivers and maintenance workers at the Franklin Regional Transit Authority, members of amalgamated UE Local 274, combined their formerly separate contracts and bargaining units into a single contract in their recent negotiations. Previously, the two groups had bargained separately, and not always at the same time.
Right from the beginning of negotiations with UE Local 718, which represents the maintenance workers at TreeHouse Foods, management demanded concessions. But a seasoned bargaining committee, an informed membership, and solidarity from the other UE local in the plant resulted in a solid new contract with gains instead.
UE's Eastern Region held their regional council meeting in Monroeville, PA on Saturday, April 21st. Delegates gathered to hear shop reports, discuss organizing, labor solidarity and political action, plan for the union's future and elect officers for the coming year.
UE fully supports the March for Students, Rally for Respect being organized by teachers and other education workers in North Carolina on May 16th.
As UE delegates to our 75th Convention last August noted, “K-12 public education, one of the most fundamental cornerstones of a democratic society, is under direct attack .... [S]tate legislators are starving public education of adequate funding, driving down the quality of schooling and creating a false perception that public schools provide subpar education.”
High deductibles force many to delay treatment, endangering health
Workers at Cummins’ Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Whitakers, North Carolina, wore “Cummins Workers Want Fairness” stickers this week protesting the company’s high-deductible health plan, as the diesel engine manufacturer held its annual shareholders meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday, May 8.
UE Local 1421 members who work at Graham Packaging made substantial gains in their recent contract negotiations, including one of the highest wage increases in recent memory. Graham workers had received about two percent across the board over the last few contracts, but this time the shop fought hard and won a three percent increase across the board for all bargaining unit members. “We had not seen a three percent raise in forever,” said Local 1421 Vice President and Chief Shop Steward Mikey Rivera. “The members were very happy with that.”
The magazine Labor Notes has been helping rank-and-file workers “put the movement back into the labor movement” since 1979. On April 6, 7 and 8, almost 50 UE members and staff joined over 3,000 people at the largest and most dynamic Labor Notes conference ever.
Over a hundred GE workers and retirees from the U.S. and Canada descended on GE's annual shareholder meeting on April 25th to demand that the company end mass layoffs and plant shutdowns, honor their commitments to retirees, respect workers' rights to organize and make restitution where the company has harmed the health of workers, community members or the environment.