General Executive Board Discusses Election, Budget

June 13, 2024

UE’s General Executive Board, made up of elected rank-and-file members from around the country, met from June 5-7.

On the opening day, board members had a frank and wide-ranging discussion about the upcoming presidential election, which offers working people, in the words of Western Region President Bryan Martindale, “the ultimate damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. “We’re at rock-bottom hard spot,” Martindale said.

Board members were clear about the failings of the Biden administration, and the reasons why so many working people will be staying home or voting against Biden come November. “This economic system sucks, and people are getting screwed,” said General President Carl Rosen. "People know they’re getting screwed and the Democrats aren’t providing any solutions.” Ramona Malczynski, Local 1466, added, “If he is more progressive he will get more votes,” but noted that Biden is in fact moving in the opposite direction, having just shut down the border.

Nonetheless, as Eastern Region President George Waksmunski concluded, “We’ve got to make a choice and Trump is just going to murder us.” Given Trump’s anti-worker appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the courts, “I don’t see how we have any other choice” but to vote for Biden.

Following the discussion, the board issued a public statement, “The Stakes of the 2024 Election,”, which concludes, “Given who will be on the ballot in November, we urge all working people to hold their nose and vote for Biden, in order to live to fight another day — the cost of re-electing Trump would be too high.”

Moving Forward to Serve the Membership

“This is our best thinking about how we move forward to best serve the membership,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker as he introduced the officers’ proposed budget for the union’s 2024-25 fiscal year (which runs from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025).

He noted that the budget decisions that the board has had made over the last several years were “survival decisions,” but that with the recent growth in membership, the union now has the resources to invest in addressing many longstanding issues.

“This board has made some extremely, extremely tough decisions over the last ten years to keep this union alive,” said Scott Slawson, Local 506. Slawson recognized the “hard work and dedication of the officers, the GEB, the staff and the members” in keeping the union alive, and made the point that “We made the decision years ago to keep going on and to organize” — a decision that has now paid off in increased membership.

The union is facing “a different set of challenges now,” Dinkelaker said. “We’re growing bigger and we have to take on those challenges.” Following extensive discussion, the board approved the budget proposed by the officers.

“A group of strong ladies that’s ready to put themselves out there”

Delores Phillips and Larry Hopkins sitting at the corner of a conference table
Delores Phillips, Local 1118, and Larry Hopkins, Local 1177.

Delores Phillips, Local 1118, gave a report on the UE Women’s Leadership Program, which launched in February, and held an in-person gathering during the Labor Notes conference in April. She relayed her appreciation for the program and for learning about the history of women in UE, and described her fellow program participants as “a group of strong ladies that’s ready to put themselves out there.”

As part of the program, Erin Frimpong, a Local 1177 chief steward at the Hallcon yard in Galesburg, Illinois, visited Local 506 and 618’s Unity Council training in Erie, Pennsylvania, an experience Local 506 President Slawson described as “wonderful.” (Frimpong recently wrote about her experience for the UE NEWS.) Slawson also relayed how two young women members of his local “were completely empowered” after coming from the Labor Notes conference. “They came back totally different people.”

Western Region Vice President Larry Hopkins reported on a recent tour of a rail yard and community roundtable on rail pollution which UE’s Green Locomotive Project helped organize. There’s “more work to be done” to protect rail yard workers and communities from pollution, Hopkins said, “and we’re going to get that work done, one way or another.”

The board also heard and discussed reports on the union’s organizational, educational, political action and international solidarity work, and issued a statement in solidarity with campus protests around Palestine.


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