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UE Forward 2000
64th National UE Convention

Special Issue

The 64th Annual UE National Convention

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Opening Doors for Democracy

Hovis Speaks to Challenges of Democracy

Organizing: Bringing Change to the Job

'Build This Union!' Kingsley Urges Delegates

Adopt Collective Bargaining Goals

Delegates Endorse Militant Shop Actions

Fighting Hate is a Union Responsibility

Union Heroes Combat Closings

Labor's Greatest Challenge Comes From Within' — Fletcher

'The Economy Should Benefit Workers For a Change' — Sanders

Getting Global About Labor Solidarity

Ten Years Stronger — Zenroren

Convention Photo


Convention Information

UE Policy

UE News

64th Annual UE Convention
Union Heroes
Combat Closings

"We cannot allow people to lose jobs so millionaires can become billionaires."


The delegation from Local 777, Cleveland Twist Drill, marches in Burlington. Their goal: to make management "think twice" about closing down another plant. Local President Konrad Huffnagel is pictured in front, center.

Through the resolution "Stop Plant Closings," the UE Convention demanded that Congress declare "a plant closing and job loss state of emergency," impose strict restrictions on shutdowns and provide workers and communities with alternatives.

The resolution, based on recent UE experiences, had particular impact as rank-and-file leaders of those union struggles addressed the convention.

A little more than a year after Kennametal purchased the 123-year-old Cleveland Twist Drill business, the multinational corporation announced plans to close the plant and eliminate the jobs of the senior, skilled and productive workforce. Konrad Huffnagel, Local 777, described the ongoing effort to fight Kennametal and win a decent severance agreement.

"This is the right thing to do, whether we get a nickel out of this or not," Huffnagel said. Local 777 members intend to make management "think twice" about closing down another plant. "We need to support each other and that’s why I stand for this resolution," he declared.

"Corporate America is taking profitable plants and shutting them down to shore up the losers," asserted Gerald LaValley, Local 274, a worker at another Kennametal-owned plant. Cleveland Twist Drill has been a profitable plant; Local 777 members are being victimized even though they attempted correct production problems, he said.

Gerry LaValley

Gerry LaValley

"We cannot allow people to lose jobs so millionaires can become billionaires," LaValley declared.

Already the victim of product-line movement and mass layoffs that have destroyed hundreds of jobs, Local 124 now faces the loss of the loss of electronic-relay production, reported Maken Dodge. When CII purchased the electronic-relay business from Genicom, management promised to keep jobs in Waynesboro, Va. But the company reneged on that promise, deciding to relocate the work.

Maken Dodge

Maken Dodge

"We mounted an all-out campaign with rallies, prayer vigils, marches and visits to politicians," Dodge said. Senators John Warner and Charles Robb "could have been invaluable in their assistance, but they sat on their thumbs," he said.

Dodge acknowledged the participation of Local 124 members — "they’re all heroes" — in the unsuccessful campaign to preserve those jobs and thanked the UE locals across the country for their "unbelievable outpouring of support."

Dave Kitchen

Dave Kitchen

Noting that the resolution calls on UE locals to "bargain aggressively" for "good benefits in the case of a plant closing," David Kitchen, Local 506, offered a word of caution based on General Electric experience. "Those benefits we negotiate are always the last resort," he said. "The first and foremost thing is that we have to convince our members that there is absolutely no benefit negotiated that is worth a job lost forever."

Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart, Local 618, reported that Local 633 had recently received notice that the Interroyal plant in Warren, Pa. would be closing. She spoke for the entire convention in urging support for the struggle ahead for those workers.

Delegates endorsed the call of Barry Rideout, Local 120, that the union’s legislative proposals include a requirement that companies closing plants repay any tax breaks or public financial incentives.

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