Workers from cities around North Carolina, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the University of North Carolina and the Cummins Rocky Mount Engine plant gathered at the Teamsters Hall in Raleigh on August 18 and 19 to celebrate Local 150’s 20 years of struggle and to plan strategy for the next two years.
UE NEWS Updates
The legendary Ernest Thompson was a rank and file UE leader in New Jersey, the first African-American on UE’s national staff, and the national secretary of UE’s Fair Practices Committee (FPC). A new edition of Thompson’s autobiography Homeboy Came to Orange: A Story of People’s Power, co-written with his daughter Mindy Thompson Fullilove, was published this year by New Village Press.
Homeboy Came to Orange tells the story of time in UE, but also his organizing for “people’s power” in the segregated northern city of Orange, NJ, where Thompson became active in community organizing after leaving UE. Beginning with a fight to desegregate the schools his daughter attended, Thompson built organizations which increased the political power of working-class African Americans in their city, based on a program called “A New Day for Orange” that addressed urban redevelopment, unemployment, improving the school system, civil rights, recreation and representative government.
Earlier this summer, UE participated in a “friends of the court” brief in solidarity with Taiwanese workers seeking compensation for being exposed to toxic chemicals at work. On August 16, the Supreme Court of Taiwan ruled that 262 workers at an RCA plant are owed compensation by the company. RCA’s assets are now owned, in part, by General Electric. The total amount of compensation for these workers is about $18 million.
Rarely these days is a union organizing campaign and strike central to the plot of a movie, especially one that isn't set in the past. Rarer still is a movie that is firmly on the side of workers and their union.
Carrying signs reading “Your Workers Are Human Beings Not Robots,” “Respect Workers Rights” and “Stop Unjust Terminations,” over 200 UE Local 123 members rallied on July 12 in front of their workplace, Daikin Applied Americas, to protest poor treatment by Daikin management.
The UE General Executive Board met in Pittsburgh from June 5-8 to review the union’s work and finances. They heard reports on the union’s organizing work, deepening relationship with Unifor, and work building international links between GE workers. After an extensive review of the union’s finances, the board passed a budget to carry the union’s work forward.
While West Virginia’s teachers were making history and inspiring working people around the world with their nine-day strike, state workers, members of UE Local 170, also notched up their own victories this spring.
In December and January, more than 1000 supporters signed on to a UE petition opposing attacks on workers’ rights in Mexico. The petition, addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, demanded that he prevent an agreement on a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) while horrendous labor legislation is pending in Mexico.
On Monday, June 4th, UE Local 150 leaders held a press conference condemning the North Carolina legislature's back-room deals, which resulted in $900 million in tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations being included in the 2019 budget.
Newly formed Local 1117 recently completed contract negotiations. The workers, who work at Ailey Solar, selling and installing residential and commercial solar power systems, voted unanimously to approve the new agreement. Workers are entitled to paid sick days for the first time, wages increases of $1.75 per hour, and guaranteed minimum work hours each week. The workers also won increased protection of bargaining unit work, additional employer-paid educational benefits and an agreement from the company's owners to explore transitioning the company to a worker-owned cooperative.
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