UE left the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1949, when the CIO had lost its militant and progressive direction. With no national labor federation today supporting UE’s rank-and-file principles, we find ways to interact with trade union and community allies which share our approach. Among those places are Jobs with Justice (JwJ) chapters, Labor Notes conferences, the World and U.S. Social Forums, and local workers’ centers.
The birth of JwJ in the late 1980s was a response to the failure of business unionism. JwJ was formed by trade unionists, community activists and other progressives as a way to work together for workers’ rights. There are currently 38 JwJ chapters across the country. Whether walking picket lines, supporting organizing campaigns, or staging town-hall style Workers’ Rights Board hearings, JwJ does the work that the labor movement finds itself incapable of or unwilling to do.
UE has been a strong supporter of JwJ since its beginning. JwJ has always valued our contribution and welcomed our presence, demonstrating the real meaning of the phrase “labor solidarity.” UE locals throughout the country are supported by JwJ organizations and affiliates. Eastern Massachusetts JwJ provided critical labor and community support for the successful strike of UE Local 279 members at Weir Valves in Ipswich.
Labor Notes and its network of supporters have promoted rank-and-file unionism within the U.S. labor movement for 38 years. It has become an indispensable resource for trade unionists. UE leaders, rank-and-file members, and staff contribute regularly to Labor Notes, sharing our experiences and analyses with other trade unionists worldwide. Labor Notes conferences are now the largest gatherings of rank-and-file union members in the country. UE continues to provide some of the largest union delegations at national Labor Notes conferences, including in 2016, and plays an important role in conducting workshops and plenary sessions.
Since 2002, UE has participated in the World Social Forum, where trade unions and social movements from around the world gather under the banner of “Another World Is Possible” to discuss how to oppose corporate globalization and replace it with alternatives that place people over profits. Our participation in the World Social Forum strengthens ties with trade unions in other countries (most recently Brazil, India, Canada, Tunisia, France, Palestine, and Egypt) and is useful in building solidarity with other workers who share the same employers.
The basis for UE’s participation in national and international coalitions, organizations and gatherings such as Jobs with Justice, Labor Notes, and the World and U.S. Social Forums has always been a desire to build a more vigorous, responsive, and relevant movement, and to work with allies — both trade unions and community organizations — regardless of affiliation status, size, or politics. If another world is possible, a world of justice for working people, we need to build a rank-and-file based movement to make it a reality.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:
- Calls on the union at all levels to:
- Participate in, support, and join Jobs with Justice;
- Foster the formation of new JwJ chapters and attend its national conventions and local meetings;
- Participate in the next Labor Notes Conference in Chicago on April 6-8, 2018;
- Commits to support for and participation in the World and U.S. Social Forums;
- Encourages members and locals to participate in or assist the formation of Labor Notes Troublemaker schools, subscribe to Labor Notes, purchase bulk subscriptions and books, and submit articles for publication.