In UE, we go into bargaining ready to fight for the best contract we can get. We must rely on the unity and mobilization of our members to fight.
If you only paid attention to topline numbers, you would believe the economy is doing fairly well. Unemployment is at 4.4 percent. Monthly job growth has slowed down from two years ago, but remains positive. Under normal circumstances, one would expect this tighter labor market to have resulted in strong real wage growth, with employers competing to attract the most qualified workers. However, wage growth has remained stubbornly low, and so far has dropped slightly since Trump took office.
Over the past two years, UE members have won an average wage increase of 2.51 percent. Although low by historic averages, this is higher than the current rate of inflation, as well as the average national wage increase. A militant, engaged union can bring real wage growth to its members.
Bosses continue to shift healthcare costs to workers, most notably by proposing high-deductible plans, where employees must pay thousands before insurance pays anything. Even though the Affordable Care Act excise tax on high-premium health plans has been delayed until 2020, employers already are proposing that workers pay this tax.
The right to retire remains in crisis. Private and public employers continue to attack defined-benefit pension plans. All too many politicians support slashing Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age. UE continues to prioritize the protection of members’ retirement benefits.
Even in a tough bargaining climate, UE members have minimized losses and made gains. It’s a testament to what a rank-and-file union can accomplish.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th 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, 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 to provide to locals a list of bargaining goals based on best practices of UE locals developed through years of struggle, along with the research information needed for negotiations.