“UE” is the abbreviation for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a democratic national union representing tens of thousands of workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private service-sector jobs. UE is an independent union (not affiliated with the AFL-CIO) proud of its democratic structure and progressive policies.
In the last three decades, UE has expanded beyond our traditional industries to represent a diverse range of occupations. Indeed, we pride ourselves as being a “Union for Everyone,” and we welcome any group of workers who want to join a militant, democratic union.
While many UE members still work in factories related to the union’s traditional jurisdictions in electrical manufacturing and metalworking, UE members are also rail crew drivers, hospital workers, co-op workers, federal contract workers, teachers, paraeducators, clerical workers, graduate workers, scientists and librarians. We maintain city and county roads, drive school buses, conduct research in university laboratories, and are employed in hundreds of other occupations.
On the following pages, you can learn more about UE — who we are, our history, what we stand for — and why UE members will tell anyone they’re proud to be part of the USA’s member-run union.
What do we mean by “Rank-and-File” unionism?
The term “rank and file” is defined as “those who form the major portion of any group or organization, excluding the leaders and officers.” In UE, we use the term “rank-and-file unionism” to describe how our union operates: it simply means it’s the members who run our union — in a democratic and collective manner. The members set the policies of the national union and make all of the decisions of importance that affect their own local unions.
Long-time UE officer and organizer Ernie DeMaio defined UE’s unique style of rank-and-file unionism this way: the members elect the union’s officers (local, regional and national) who, in turn, are required to report on their stewardship of the union concerning its “policies, program, expenditures and contract negotiations which must have the prior consent of the members and their approval on all of the actions taken, and contracts negotiated, on their behalf. The essence of rank-and-file unionism is not democratic rhetoric, but democratic practice. The members run the union.”