Workers at Azteca, a tortilla factory, voted by a more than two-to-one margin for UE in a representation election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on April 12. The vote was 59 for UE, 25 for the company, and 1 for the discredited Distillery Workers Union. Azteca employs approximately 90 workers.
• In Memoriam ...
James M. Kane, who served as president of UE during the Reagan years, died April 1 at age 78. A militant leader of Vermont machine workers, Kane was also president of UE’s northeastern region for many years.
Despite many years in union office, Kane had difficulty with the notion of being a "professional" labor leader. "It’s hard for me to get over the idea that I’m a worker," he told a reporter in 1981.
The UE Local 1421 members at Graham Packaging take satisfaction from knowing that under the terms of their new agreement health insurance will continue to be a company-paid benefit – without a cent coming out of their pockets towards the cost of the premium.
Also, the contract sets doctor-visit co-payments at $5, so that the cost to Graham workers can’t be raised by health care providers.
Negotiations took five days, concluding March 1. UE members ratified the contract on March 6.
As EIS Wire and Cable emerged from three years of bankruptcy under new ownership, the members of amalgamated UE Local 264 employed at the South Hadley plant faced tough challenges. The venture capitalist group that bought EIS recognized the union but not the contract.
UE members entered negotiations with three goals: get as much money up front as possible; because ground had been lost in previous negotiations, restore as much contract language as possible; get health insurance costs under some control. All three goals were met.
With national bargaining less than 15 months away, General Electric is already preparing its themes – and it’s not too soon for union members get ready.
That was the message delivered by UE leaders to local officers and stewards at a meeting of the UE-GE Conference Board here Feb. 20.
The University of Vermont shuttle service will remain in-house, saving the jobs of shuttle drivers represented by UE Local 267. The university administration informed the union of its decision on Feb. 15.
The UE local and students had launched a campaign that demonstrated wide campus and community support for the drivers. More than 1,100 students, staff, faculty and community members signed a petition supporting retention of the shuttle service.
The administration concluded that the shuttle service provided by UE members was the best product for the best price.
UE Genl. Pres. John Hovis has called on Brazilian authorities to thoroughly investigate the burglary of the offices of the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT), Brazil’s largest labor federation. The break-in – by men wearing police uniforms – occurred hours following approval of a national strike to protest regressive labor legislation. This raid also follows a series of assassinations of labor movement leaders.
Union members from across Iowa took proposals for a citizens’ budget to the State Capitol on Jan. 15, stressing that cuts in services and layoffs are no solution to the State’s budgetary crisis. UE represents more than 6,000 working families in Iowa, largely in the public sector.
Call it on-the-job training: for fully one-third of the UE General Executive Board, including the national union’s financial officer, the meeting here Jan. 17-19 was their first. Not that any of the new board members were unfamiliar with the issues facing the union. Each brought years of UE membership and experience to the table.
Launched February 1st, the UE web has a new feature designed to bring more news, frequently updated, to our members and website visitors. It’s called “UE News Update.” The new service will function much like a news wire, displaying headlines and stories in the order they were posted on our website. The most recent UE News Update headlines will be displayed on our main UE News Online page.