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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
Fighting Hate
Is a Union


The union’s aggressive opposition to racism received a ringing endorsement from delegates speaking on the resolution "Reject Hate and Division, Build Working-Class Unity." Representing UE locals from Connecticut to California, they shared experiences in the struggle to build unity.

Local 506 has created a unity council that tackles racial and sexual harassment, hate speech and homophobic acts in the shop, reported Patrick Rafferty. The local recognizes the need for education on these issues and sponsors training for officers and stewards.

In addition, he said, the General Electric workers’ local union has become involved with a community organization, Citizens Against Racism in Erie (CARE). Local 506 backs CARE’s anti-hate hot line and removal of racist graffiti. When the Ku Klux Klan announced plans to hold a rally in Erie earlier this year, Locals 506 and 618 worked closely with CARE in building a successful unity rally, Rafferty said.

Racism and white privilege have been institutionalized in society, commented Dennis McLaughlin, Local 506. It’s about time that anti-racism be institutionalized, he said.

UE members have an obligation to stand up for the union’s policy and confront racist jokes and comments, insisted Barry Rideout, Local 120.

Racist and sexist thinking begins in the home, said Rideout, who issued a challenge to delegates "to teach your children and your grandchildren the right things to do."

Clifford Hall
Clifford Hall

"We have to first teach our kids," counseled Clifford Hall, Local 151. In Cicero, Illinois co-workers and the communities rallied against an invasion by the KKK, he reported. "The whole community got together and said, ‘stop this racist stuff!’"

Name-calling hurts, said Ray Pompano, Local 243; "words cut like a knife."

Racism was a cover for welfare reform, Pompano pointed out. As a result of the destruction of the social safety net, half of minority children are born in poverty, and a quarter of all kids are poor. Pompano decried California’s anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 and anti-immigrant Proposition 187.

UE locals face a challenge of educating members to overcome division and hatred, said Joe Chavez, District 10, pointing out how companies hire workers of different nationalities to incite disunity.

When Local 683 went into negotiations with OEM Plastics in Erie, Pa., workers wore union buttons in each of their seven languages, noted Betsy Potter, Local 618. "So when they went out to confront they boss, they each had a button that read exactly what they meant, and they knew what it said."

Merle Krossland

Merle Krossland

Potter endorsed the suggestion of Merle Krossland, Local 625, that the word "substantial" be deleted from the resolution’s call that there be "translation of contracts, leaflets, bulletins and other materials into the languages of UE members where there are substantial numbers of members who cannot speak or read English." Krossland stated, "If you have one person in your shop who has no understanding of the contract, leaflets or bulletins that we put out, I believe they have the right to know and be educated on our stand like anyone else."

Delegates accepted the amendment unanimously.

Deb Herman Mona Parillo
Deb Herman

Mona Parillo

Deb Herman, Local 896, warned that the movement for "English-only" laws encourages prejudice against immigrants.

Delegates also adopted the resolution "In Support of Immigrant Workers," with an amendment proposed from the floor by Mona Parillo, Local 1094, that speaks to the protection of immigrant workers from sweatshops.

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