The Monday afternoon session opened with the resolutions “Labor Law Reform” and “Organize the Unorganized: The UE National Organizing Plan.” President Peter Knowlton then recognized Director of Organization Gene Elk, who gave the organizing report.
The second session of UE’s 75th convention was held on Monday Morning, August 28th. Delegates discussed resolutions on Workplace Struggle, Restore the Right to Strike, Collective Bargaining, Healthcare for All and Collective Bargaining for Public Employees. They also heard from guest speaker Bonnie Castillo from National Nurses United, who spoke about the importance of a culture of organizing, fighting for social solutions instead of market solutions to social issues, and the struggle for single-payer healthcare for all.
The UE 75th National Convention opened today with General President Peter Knowlton leading the delegates in the chant “Who Are We? UE!!!”
President Knowlton introduced Whitney Allen, Minister of Music at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Pittsburgh and niece of UE General Counsel Irene Thomas, who sang the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
UE's three geographic regions - Northeast, Eastern and Western - had their meetings on Saturday in Pittsburgh, to prepare delegates for the national convention that starts tomorrow.
Delegates heard shop reports about negotiations, workplace struggles and special situations from around the country, from North Carolina to Erie, PA and from Massachusetts to Iowa, and conducted regional business. Highlights from the regional meetings included:
UE's 75th National Convention gets started Sunday morning, but some UE members have been in Pittsburgh since Thursday, getting ready for UE’s most inspirational, educational, democratic rank and file event.
UE Young Activists have been hard at work since 5:00 p.m. Thursday, learning about UE and labor history, participating in a workshop on effective strategies for winning fights against management, and assisting with UE organizing.
On Thursday August 3, a packed room of UE Local 1121 members enthusiastically voted to ratify the new contract with their company, Aramark Laundry Services. It was the strongest contract the workers had won, with 40-cent wage increases every year, their first-ever paid sick days, and a stronger safety committee. The vote came at the end of more than three months of fierce struggle by the laundry workers that culminated with the local’s first-ever job action, shutting down production as workers walked out and marched around the plant for 45 minutes at the start of this week.
As one part of its struggle against GE's announced plan to move even more work out of the Erie plant, UE Local 506 commissioned an economic impact study by the firm Parker Philips. The union announced the results of that study today with the following press release. Click the link at the bottom to download the full report.
Economic Impact of GE Job Transfers Will Have Ripple Throughout Pennsylvania, Erie County Economies
Workers at the National Visa Center (NVC) organized to join UE last year, and overcame their employer’s tough anti-union campaign to win a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)election and gain union representation last October 19. Over the following four months, this workforce of nearly 600 received its UE charter as local 228, and members negotiated and ratified their first union contract, approved on February 28.
In a classic UE battle, members of Local 274 for three months militantly fought against concession demands by their employer, Kennametal. On June 22, the local bargaining committee signed a tentative agreement for a new two-year agreement. The following day, the 74 members unanimously ratified it. Local President Shawn Coates calls it “a great contract with good benefits and good wage increases.”
On February 17, members of UE Local 1118 voted to ratify a new one-year agreement with their employer, FCi. These workers process forms for the United States Customs and Immigration Service at its Chicago Field Office, run by FCi as a federal contractor.
The contract settlement came after a fast-paced month of struggle between the workers and management. FCi tried to avoid negotiating a new contract with the union, and instead pushed for an extension of the agreement already in place. This extension would not have included any wage increase or change in contract language.