UE’s General Executive Board, meeting from August 22-24, reviewed the union organizational and international work, discussed the issues of immigration and jobs, and made plans for the Fall 2018 regional council meetings and UE participation in the 2018 elections.
UE NEWS Updates
UE Locals 155, 716, 1177, and 1077 entered negotiations for a new national agreement this summer with a strong program of change for rail crew drivers across the country.
Members of UE Local 329 who work for Kennedy Valve ratified a new four-year contract in June. The agreement includes wage increases of 3.2, 1.9, 1.4 and 1.3 percent and increases the pension multiplier for current employees by $3.
A delegation of UE officers, leaders and staff joined UE’s Canadian partner union Unifor for their Canadian Council meeting from August 17-19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “They were very welcoming and continued to display the kinds of progressive political and trade-union principles that are fully in sync with the UE,” said UE Director of Organization Gene Elk.
UE's Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson traveled to Hiroshima, Japan in early August to bring UE's commitment to peace, denuclearization, and a reduction in military spending to the 2018 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. Longtime UE ally Zenroren, a Japanese trade union confederation representing over 1.2 million workers, hosted Thompson.
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.
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.
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