UE Local 896/COGS (Committee to Organize Graduate Students) won an important court victory this week. The Iowa District Court for Polk County upheld an earlier ruling by the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) that reimbursement of graduate student fees to graduate teaching and research assistants at the University of Iowa are a mandatory topic of bargaining. PERB is the state labor board for public employees in Iowa, and after it rule in the union’s favor, the university appealed to state court.
Workers at the Nebraska Service Center of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in Lincoln voted overwhelmingly for UE in Labor Board elections held in Lincoln on May 6 and 7.
Melvin “Ricky” Maurice Maclin, vice president of UE Local 1110, leader of the historic six-day factory occupation of Republic Windows and Doors by Local 1110 members in December 2008 and founding member of New Era Windows Cooperative, died on May 5, after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in early April. He was 61 years old, and died surrounded by family in his Chicago home. The steady stream of visitors was a testament to the impact he had on so many lives and our movement for justice.
On Sunday, April 26, UE Young Activists and other UE members participated with thousands of other people in a march in New York City for a nuclear-free, just, and sustainable world. This year is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The United Nations holds a conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty every five years, since the treaty went into effect in 1970.
After a years-long struggle culminating in a militant three-week strike from November 20 to December 16, the members of UE Local 279 at Weir Valves and Controls, have reached a settlement with their employer which includes the resolution of many outstanding disputes and the ratification of a new contract. Members ratified the settlement on March 6. The new three-year contract provides wage increases of 1.5 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent and stops the company’s attempt to roll back several contractual protections.
At the end of a tough seven-month battle, fought with creative tactics and enthusiastic membership involvement, UE Local 896 won a new two-year contract with the University of Iowa that achieves partial reimbursement of student fees and extends 100 percent tuition scholarship to graduate employees in the College of Education. The contract also provides wage increases of 1 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year; blocks concessions sought by the administration; and lowers health premiums for single parents.
The UE NEWS aims to be informative, educational and interesting to UE members, and it’s always heartening to get feedback from someone who enjoyed an article and learned something from it, or thought that one of Gary Huck’s cartoon hit the nail on the head on a current issue.
But some UE leaders in North Carolina have found a way to increase the impact of the UE NEWS. Through what they call “lunch-and-learn”, they engage members in group reading and discussion of articles in the UE NEWS. Some of them have been doing it for more than 10 years.
In the 1970s, salaried women workers at Erie GE fought important battles for workplace equality, including two strikes in 1974 and ’75 in which they demanded equal pay for equal work. The participants in these struggles were predominantly young women, and they were influenced by the ideas of the feminist movement as well as by UE’s long-established principles of equality and rank-and-file unionism.
Before contract negotiations began, the members of Local 222, Sub-local 9, the New Fairfield Board of Education custodians, maintenance and groundskeepers, told their bargaining committee they needed significant wage gains. Their hourly wage rates were several dollars below those of comparable Connecticut school districts. Thanks to a strong committee and a unified membership, they were able to achieve that goal and settled a new four-year contract that runs through June 2018 and delivers the largest wage increases seen by this unit in many years.
The bargaining committee for Local 151 was very clear on what it was seeking when bargaining with Aetna Bearing Company began on September 22. But the company’s goals were very different, and over the next two and a half months, the committee and the members fought hard for improvements in wages and benefits.