Since the last convention, workers, including UE members, have gotten leverage over bosses not seen in generations. The tight labor market means workers can be choosy regarding their jobs, and employers must be careful to retain their workforce. UE members have taken advantage of this to negotiate a historic round of agreements, a testament to what a rank-and-file union can accomplish.
Nowhere have the advances of the current period been stronger than in wages. Most agreements across the private sector achieved substantial increases, reaping long-term benefits because inflation is now dropping. Across historically lower-wage shops, in sectors ranging from food co-ops, to rail-crew driving, to government contracting, to manufacturing, some of the best wage settlements in decades, or in some cases ever, were reported. Some locals, when approached by the employer mid-contract about raising wages for new hires, leveraged the moment further to win substantial additional increases which applied to all members.
While not every UE shop saw historic wage increases, the tight labor market and rise in militancy reaped dividends everywhere. No reported contracts across UE were concessionary over the past two years. Many locals were able to leverage the current conditions, in concert with aggressive shop-floor action, to block company attempts to gut benefits, paid leave, and work rules, in many cases making substantive improvements across some or all of those areas.
The conditions which gave workers an edge over bosses in the U.S. economy show no signs of ceasing. Inflation subsided without a recession or any increase to unemployment. Pay increases are now going further, and employers still cannot take their workers for granted. UE members, through their militancy, creative use of tactics, and internal organization, are well positioned to continue winning advances in 2024 and beyond.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 78th UE CONVENTION:
- Calls for education and mobilization of members in preparation for the aggressive campaigns that are necessary for favorable contract settlements;
- Calls for broadening contract struggles beyond the bargaining table by including strategic campaigns, shareholder actions, and labor-community alliances;
- Calls for building solidarity with other unions (both domestic and international), especially those of the same employer, engaged in contract fights;
- Calls on locals to keep members informed and mobilized at every stage of negotiations;
- Directs the national union to continue providing;
- Research packets to UE workplaces entering contract negotiations, and to continue including in these materials the suggested bargaining goals list based upon best practices of UE locals developed through years of struggle;
- Trainings, workshops, and in-person support by regional or national officers.