The American Rescue Plan Act, Bernie Sanders Chief of Staff Misty Rebik told delegates, is “one of the most significant pieces of legislation to happen for the working class in this country” in decades. “And that is because of you,” she added. “That is because of people like you who have been organizing day in and day out for decades now, demanding that we have a government for the people.”
UE NEWS Updates
A group of 36 workers at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania formed UE’s newest local, Local 696, when they voted overwhelmingly to join UE in February and March. “This campaign really helped to boost my morale and excitement for our work,” said Dana Soloff, a community educator. “Everyone was unified and united to advance the mission of Planned Parenthood in providing the best possible services to our community.”
Although their ability to negotiate contracts has been severely limited by anti-union legislation, the members of UE Local 896-COGS are still engaging in aggressive struggle to improve the lives of the 2,000 graduate employees at the University of Iowa. The Local 896’s executive board “has really been ... racking our brains” said Local 896 President John Jepsen, trying to figure out “if we can't get power at the bargaining table, because of the laws in Iowa, where do we get power? The answer of course is membership and organizing.”
John Miles, a member of UE Local 506’s executive board, addressed a “Thriving PA” Town Hall meeting held over Zoom on the evening of March 31. The topic was what the THRIVE Act, a plan to create tens of millions of good, union jobs while addressing the threat of climate change through a Green New Deal, means for the state of Pennsylvania.
UE joins Kilusang Mayo Uno, the independent and democratic labor center in the Philippines, in condemning the murder of KMU National Council member Dandy Miguel and the illegal arrest of KMU National Council member Florentino “Pol” Viuya.
As the first anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic approached, the UE International Department asked two of our international allies, Unifor (Canada) and Zenroren (Japan), to share with UE NEWS readers a glimpse into what work and life is like now in their countries. We asked these allied unions to share what their government’s response to the virus had been like, as well as how these unions were organizing or in other ways helping workers to protect themselves during these new health and economic challenges.
Over the past year, workers in Canada have felt much of the same effects as workers across the world. At first, initial enthusiasm for the contribution of essential workers was applauded and then their pandemic pay was cut. Front-line staff engaged in the fight for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), sometimes facing employers who deliberately prevented workers from accessing life-saving PPE. After the initial wave of layoffs related to COVID-19 shut downs, many workers are back to work with heightened health and safety protocols. However, many workers, including those in the airlines, hospitality, and gaming sectors, are still largely out of work. Others, including in aerospace, are watching layoffs mount. A year into the pandemic, Canadian workers continue to fight for sector-based relief packages and expanded workers’ rights.
The North American Solidarity Project presents the Worker Power Online Exchange Series, seven public webinars from March 20 to June 9. The events are being jointly organized by the unions of the North American Solidarity Project, including UE.
“Given the current pandemic, Medicare for All is needed now more than ever. Thousands of American families will face astronomical medical expenses due to the COVID virus. Many will be forced into bankruptcy because of their inability to pay. Today is the day we make Medicare for All our top priority for 2021.”
“This has been a really busy period,” UE Director of Organizing Gene Elk told the General Executive Board during their January meeting. “We now have opportunities to organize hundreds of workers.” Elk gave an overview of several large campaigns the union is currently engaged in, among 1500 graduate workers at the University of New Mexico, 900 graduate workers at New Mexico State University, and 700 largely black city workers employed in the utilities, public works, and sanitation departments of the city of Virginia Beach.
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