The first guest speaker on Sunday morning of UE's 2019 convention was State Representative Summer Lee, who represents a working-class district southeast of Pittsburgh. She was introduced by Local 610 President Antwon Gibson, who told his fellow delegates that Lee was “leading the next wave of folks that are standing up to fight injustice.” During the nine-day strike against Wabtec last winter, Lee “was there at our rallies, fighting right there with us.” Gibson noted how rare it is for a politician to do that.
UE NEWS Updates
UE’s 76th Convention was joined by more guests from other unions than any other UE convention in recently memory. Leaders and young activists from the other U.S. and Canadian unions that make up the North American Solidarity Project — Unifor, the Utility Workers Union of America, National Nurses United and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — joined the convention in various capacities, as did Chris Townsend of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Jenny Craig, a rank-and-file leader of the historic 2018 and 2019 West Virginia teachers’ strikes and president of the Ohio County Education Association, addressed the convention on Monday morning.
On Monday, August 26, UE held a new convention event highlighting women’s leadership in honor of former UE organizer Florence Criley. Former UE General Secretary-Treasurer Amy Newell was a featured speaker at this sold-out fundraising luncheon.
Eastern Region president Donna Morgan gave remarks about Criley, who was an organizer with UE for 30 years. She was known as a tireless organizer of unorganized workers as well as a crusader in our shops battling against a bad boss or a raiding union.
As the strike by almost 50,000 General Motors workers heads into its fourth week — with UAW officials reporting that talks have “taken a turn for the worse” — a UE delegation visited the UAW Local 1005 picket lines in Parma, Ohio on Saturday.
Shortly after UE’s 2017 convention, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. While most U.S. news outlets lost interest in the story after a month or two, the island has yet to fully recover. In May, Northeast Region President Autumn Martinez spent two weeks on the island as a volunteer, helping to repair homes. The UE NEWS spoke with her in July about her trip and the conditions she found there.
Over the two weeks of their fall membership drive, UE Local 896-COGS volunteers and organizers signed up 40 new members in this right-to-work state. Local 896 represents the graduate employees at the University of Iowa.
Sheila Wanzer, a teaching aide in Winslow and a member of the UE organizing committee at the private contractor ESS, told the UE Convention in August, “We're fighting this battle and we're not giving up until we win!” On Tuesday, September 24, Wanzer and her co-workers voted to join UE in a National Labor Relations Board election.
ESS employs approximately 200 paraprofessionals, bus aides, and after-school aides under contract with the Winslow School District. Winslow paraprofessionals were at one time public employees who had decent wages, benefits, and working conditions as school district direct hires.
UE supports the more than 8,000 nurses represented by National Nurses United (NNU) who are on strike today. Nurses are striking for safe staffing, optimal patient care and improved recruitment and retention at 16 different facilities in Arizona, Florida, California, and Illinois.
In mid-September a UE delegation, including General President Peter Knowlton and rank-and-file members of UE Local 150, joined National Nurses United’s Global Nurses Solidarity Assembly in San Francisco. Nurse unions from 27 countries gathered to address the global crisis of health care and the attacks union nurses are facing throughout the world.
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