General Executive Board Sees Opportunities, Challenges in Current Period

May 18, 2023

Meeting on May 11 and 12, UE’s General Executive Board reviewed the challenges and opportunities created by UE’s rapid growth over the past five months, with over 14,000 workers joining UE in labor board elections since January. The GEB, made up of UE’s three national officers, the regional presidents, and rank-and-file members elected from each region, is the union’s highest decision-making body in between national conventions.

Director of Organization Mark Meinster told his fellow GEB members that UE is “at the forefront” of an upsurge in worker activism. In addition to UE’s recent organizing victories in higher education, Meinster noted that there has been increased organizing in the service sector and an uptick in strikes and union elections across the economy. In two of the country’s largest unions, the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, members have elected new, more militant leadership, and both of those unions will be negotiating their largest contracts — with UPS and the “Big Three” automakers respectively — this year.

“We intend to do our part” to contribute to this upsurge in organizing and militancy, Meinster said.

With thousands of new members coming into UE, both through new organizing and new hiring in existing locals, board members had an extensive discussion of how best to maintain UE’s spirit and principles, and to educate new members about UE’s history and traditions. “As leaders, it's our obligation to pass that history along and motivate our members,” observed Eastern Region Secretary-Treasurer and Local 506 President Scott Slawson, whose local has seen several hundred new hires in recent months.

As part of this process, the officers suggested, and the board agreed, that the National Union should distribute information to locals with the Convention Call explaining how elections for national officers have traditionally worked in the union. General President Carl Rosen pointed out that those traditions encourage candidates for national office to make their case to locals prior to convention, based on discussion of the issues facing the union, rather than on the basis of personality. Diana Martinez, Local 1077, who was first elected to the GEB during a virtual regional council meeting during the pandemic, shared that she would have appreciated more explicit information about how elections in the union work.

Five UE leaders sitting at a table, listening intently

In addition to new organizing, GEB members heard reports about the many other activities the union is engaged in. Rosen and Slawson reported that the Green Locomotive Project had a very successful virtual event releasing a report about the jobs that green locomotive manufacturing will create in Erie. Rosen, Mike Tomaloff, Local 1186, and Western Region Vice President Larry Hopkins, Local 1177, discussed the successful campaigns of UE-endorsed candidates in Wisconsin and Chicago; Eastern Region President George Waksmunski and Eastern Region Vice President Antwon Gibson, Local 610, talked about the importance of the then-upcoming election for Allegheny County Executive, in which UE ally Sara Innamorato was the leading candidate. (Innamorato won that election on May 16.)

Rosen also spoke about the upcoming re-introduction of Medicare for All legislation. He said that the union is hoping to schedule an international solidarity delegation to visit UE allies in Mexico, the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo, in the fall. He noted that the union will need to raise a significant amount of funds in order to pay for the delegation, and that UE members are encouraged to contribute to the UE Research and Education Fund to help make this important work possible. (Contributions can be made here.)

UE General Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker
General Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker.

Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker reviewed the plans for UE’s 78th convention, which will be held in Pittsburgh in September with the theme of “Building Strike Power.” He also reviewed the union’s 2022-2023 budget, and laid out a proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year, which the board approved.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Dinkelaker thanked GEB members for their commitment to providing democratic leadership for the national union, and noted that he is more excited about UE’s future than he has been in over ten years in this position.


If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to the UE NEWS — for as little as $5/year you can support great labor journalism and receive the print edition of the UE NEWS four times per year.

You can also sign up to receive monthly UE NEWS Bulletins via email, or follow UE on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.