Two leaders of Iraq´s labor movement, Hashmeya Huhsin Hussein, president of the Electric Utility Workers Union, and Falah Abood Umara, general secretary of the Federation of Oil Unions, are touring a dozen U.S. cities this month, from June 4 to June 29. They will address members of Congress, union members, and the general public about the impact of the U.S. occupation on the Iraqi labor movement and the lives of working people.
The labor movement in Iraq is fighting to stop a proposed “hydrocarbon law” that would turn over the lion’s share of their country’s oil reserves to major foreign oil companies. U.S. Labor Against the War is calling on U.S. unionists to help the Iraq´s unions.
Four years after a majority voted to be represented by UE, the National Labor Relations Board has gotten around to counting the ballots which on March 14 showed that, by a vote of 33 to 5, workers at Hishi Plastics had chosen UE as their bargaining representative. Justice delayed may be justice denied, but Hishi workers are seizing this belated opportunity to achieve some justice on the job with their first UE contract.
UE Locals 222 and 243 sent members to Hartford on April 18 for UE’s third Connecticut Political Action Conference in that state. This year the UE event was coordinated with Labor United for Healthcare as a multi-union lobby day to push for the Connecticut Saves Health Care Program (SB 1371), a bill that would establish a state single-payer plan.
UE members in Chicago, Milwaukee and Los Angeles participated in mass marches on May 1, International Workers’ Day, focused on the fight for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S.
Over 50 UE members were among the more than 150,000 marchers in Chicago, birthplace of May Day as a world labor holiday. UE’s contingent included members of Locals 1101, 1110 and former Local 1104.
Most Americans who came of age during the Cold War grew up believing that May Day was some sort of communist holiday, invented by the Russians. Every year on May 1, television news would show us official parades through Red Square in Moscow, the leaders of the USSR standing in review atop Lenin’s Tomb as soldiers marched in formation and tanks and missiles rolled past. Few Americans were aware that May 1 each year was the occasion for general strikes and mass parades by labor union members in other foreign capitals such as Paris, Rome, and Mexico City.
APRIL 3, 2007
In a strongly-worded decision made public today, the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, issued an unprecedented call for the United States to “promote the establishment of a collective bargaining framework in the public sector in North Carolina,” and called specifically for the repeal of North Carolina General Statute §95-98, the state law that prohibits public employee collective bargaining.
UE members at Sargent have ratified a new three-year agreement by a vote of 376 to 30. The agreement includes 10 percent in wage increase over three years, with 3.5 percent in each of the first two years and three percent in the third. The weekly employee share of health care premiums will increase by $5 over the life of the contract. The employee health insurance contribution will be $20 per week in the final year of the contract.
On Saturday, February 10, over 3,000 people from all over North Carolina joined a People’s Assembly and March in support of a 14-point progressive agenda. That people’s platform included collective bargaining for public workers, living wage, education, health care, housing, environmental justice, immigrant rights, and ending discrimination, racism and the Iraq war. The “HKoJ” (Historic Thousands on Jones Street – the location of the State General Assembly) was sponsored by the State NAACP and over 60 other organizations, including UE Local 150, the NC Public Service Workers Union.
Boris H. “Red” Block, UE Secretary-Treasurer from 1975 to 1985, died February 4 at age 82. The lifelong UE activist and organizer is remembered as a tough fighter for UE members at the bargaining table, and a diligent guardian of UE’s democratic principles and financial integrity.