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UE POLICY 2009-2011

UE Convention Resolutions
Rank-and-File Education
To Build A Strong
And Effective Union

To bring the power of the membership into the workplace requires not only an energized membership, but vision and foresight. UE members and leaders need access to skills, knowledge and lessons learned through decades of struggle, as well as time, away from the workplace, to share experiences and learn from our current struggles in both the private and public sectors.

For over seventy years, UE has been a living example that democratic, rank-and-file unionism makes a difference. UE members have led historic struggles against concessions, plant closings, privatization, and racial and gender discrimination. Strategies adopted by the UE rank and file build greater strength in the workplace and succeeded more often than those employed by business unions. UE members continued to lead the way with recent victories, including the sit-in at Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago, and the contract fight to obtain health insurance for paraprofessionals in Wallingford, Connecticut.

UE leaders and members face the challenge of improving wages and benefits while preserving jobs during an economic downturn. A strong response and effective fightback depend on an educated, informed leadership, an effective steward system, and an involved membership. Regular educational forums at the sub-regional level supplement workshops at regional meetings. These conferences have also been conducted in Spanish to enable larger numbers of members to attend. This has provided opportunities to learn from other members while focusing on fighting back during tough economic times as well as local union financial integrity, officer and steward training, developing leadership skills, preparation for bargaining, and effective grievance handling.

Also key to strengthening the union and building solidarity is providing opportunities for members whose first language is not English to learn or improve their English as well as translating materials and discussions into the languages our members speak. Communication is key for any successful UE local or chapter.


  1. Commits the union to providing educational materials and workshops which assist members in running effective local unions and successfully engaging in local, national and international struggles. This educational program should include but not be limited to:
    1. Regular trainings available to every local on steward's training and grievance handling, democratic functioning, local union financial integrity, and preparing for negotiations and in-shop struggles, with trainings tailored to the needs of the local;
    2. Continued emphasis on addressing the health care and retirement security crisis and bargaining during an economic downturn;
    3. Sub-regional educational conferences to provide opportunities for both new and experienced stewards, activists, and members to increase their skills and learn from the knowledge and experiences of each other;
    4. Continuing to include a day of workshops at the National Convention and the development of workshops for use at regional, sub-regional and local membership meetings;
    5. The production and distribution of the UE Steward and other books, pamphlets and videos needed by local officers, stewards and members to effectively run their own local union and engage in struggle;
    6. The incorporation of political education that counteracts corporate media influence and promotes a working class consciousness and alternatives to the corporate agenda. This includes but is not limited to educational materials on national health insurance, retirement security and immigration.
    7. Maintenance and increased exposure of the UE website to increase access to information and materials for both members and unorganized workers;
    8. The continued publication of the print and internet versions of the UE News, including regular political updates. UE locals are urged to ensure that every member receives the newspaper and to work for a broad distribution in the community whenever possible.
    9. Encouraging and advising individual locals to establish and use websites to educate and involve membership on workplace issues and political action, and local accomplishments;
    10. Continued translation of materials into Spanish and/or other languages to reach the largest number of members;
    11. Place a PDF version of the UE National Constitution Online
  2. Commits all locals to augment our tradition of educating through action and involvement in collective bargaining, organizing and political struggles, with:
    1. Active encouragement and support of members regardless of age, race, creed or sexual orientation to develop greater leadership abilities;
    2. Education about the history and accomplishments of the union both nationally and locally;
    3. Regular publication of a local newsletter or leaflet, with copies sent to the national union to allow for periodic distribution to other locals;
    4. Classes to introduce new members to the union, explaining policies, structure, and collective bargaining agreements;
    5. Take the message of democratic rank-and-file unionism into the broader community, including non-union workplaces, and provide materials and classes to area schools to educate students on the union's values, principles and contributions to society;
    6. Negotiate employer-paid lost time for members to attend trainings and educational events.
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