On November 29 and 30, UE Director of Organization Gene Elk and Local 506 President Scott Slawson traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in a preparatory meeting to set up a General Electric Trade Union Network, the first international network of unions representing GE workers from around the world.
Members of UE Local 1161 made very significant gains in their new two-year contract with Spartek. Following a spirited contract campaign, the agreement was overwhelmingly ratified on November 30.
When management at Fairbanks Scales first spoke with UE Local 234 leaders about negotiations this fall, they indicated that they wanted them to be “quick and speedy.” They learned, however, that proposing major concessions is not the way to get quick and speedy negotiations from UE members. After an eight-day strike, management agreed instead to a contract that contains solid wage increases, controls on health insurance premiums, and significant language improvements.
On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Cole issued his opinion on a 10J bargaining order sought by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against pallet manufacturer MTIL. The decision imposes an injunction on MTIL to bargain with the employees and their union, UE. The injunction should be signed by the Judge by the middle of next week.
This injunction instructs the company to ultimately bargain with UE. UE members at MTIL are preparing to bargain with the company and mobilize to fight for the contract they deserve.
At the Pennsylvania Labor History Society’s annual conference, held in Erie at the UE Local 506 hall this past weekend, two retired UE leaders were honored at the Friday night reception and dinner. Retired Local 506 Business Agent Pat Rafferty was one of two local union leaders honored with the 47th annual Mother Jones award. Retired UE News Managing Editor Al Hart, who was a member of Local 506 in the 1970s and 80s before coming on UE staff in 1986, received the John Brennan Labor Education Award.
The newest chapter of UE Local 150, the Workers Union at UNC, takes the UE principle of forming “an organization which unites all workers” seriously. “We decided early on that we wanted to be a union for all public-sector workers on campus,” says Joe Karlik, a graduate student worker and leader of the chapter, adding that that commitment is part of what brought them to UE.
On Tuesday, October 17, the Raleigh City Workers Union chapter of UE Local 150 held an informational picket at City Hall. The City Council was scheduled to meet at 1:00pm that day, during work hours when employees can not attend. The workers were joined by many community supporters from the Triangle People’s Assembly, Black Workers for Justice, the Raleigh Police Accountability Taskforce and others.
Members of UE Local 506 are not giving up the fight to keep good jobs in Erie. “This fight is a long way from over,” said Local 506 President Scott Slawson, “and nothing is off the table. We’re going to leverage political pressure, charges with the NLRB, and of course engage our membership to put internal pressure on the company.”
Delegates to UE’s 75th Convention in August were both inspired and entertained by Pittsburgh singer Anne Feeney. Feeney performed songs about corporate personhood (“corporations cannot pass the belly button test”), universal healthcare (“rich get richer and poor folks die”), and speedup in healthcare (“we are nursing as fast as we can”), which combine a passion for the struggles of working people with a sharp sense of humor.