Significantly improved living standards and working conditions — and the militant, workplace action necessary to achieve them — received enthusiastic endorsement from UE Convention delegates.
The Convention adopted the resolutions "Collective Bargaining," which details the union’s goals, "Shop-Floor Struggle," which affirms the value of collective action in the workplace, and "Contract Bargaining Goals and Action Plan," which proposes a specific set of goals (see: UE Policy).
"If you stick together you can accomplish just about anything," declared Debbie Schulz, Local 689, who reported that through concerted action her co-workers recently defeated the employer’s attempt to impose a 24-hour, seven-day rotating work schedule.
'SHOP FLOOR STRUGGLE'
She was commenting on "Shop-Floor Struggle." So was Glenn Bush, Local 1107, when he proposed that the basis for this union is "continuous education, mobilization," the strength of unity on the job with backing from the national union and district.
"If you follow these guidelines in the beginning, it will help you in the end," suggested Robin Greene, Local 204, in speaking on "Contract Bargaining Goals." "We have one of the best UE contracts in our area."
The resolution’s goal of "no mandatory overtime" caught the attention, and enjoyed the approval, of several delegates. Merle Crossland, Local 626, said he’s seen mandatory overtime in other shops, "how it ends up pushing your brother and sister out the door." William Newsome, Local 150, sees the dangerous effects of forced overtime everyday in the psychiatric hospital where he works.
Section "f" of the resolution calls for "A pension plan multiplier equal to or greater than $30 per month per year of service" and states that "any 401(k) retirement plans should have employer contributions of 10% of a worker’s total annual earnings." That sounded right to Clarence Hairston, Local 150, who despaired at the number of retirees who must return to work because they lack sufficient retirement income.
Nancy Mayer, Local 683, liked section "a." which says union representatives should be able "to investigate, process, and meet over workplace problems and grievances during work hours." That’s not currently the case at OEM Plastics, where she is chief steward, and she’s not happy about it.
John Thompson, Local 690, pointed out that the resolution has its origins in an earlier era when UE represented workers in entire chains in the electrical manufacturing industry. The maintenance of certain contract standards was necessary so that workers employed by one company would not undercut those in another. The diversification of the UE membership in the recent period means that "standards" have become "goals" to be sought in the union’s various sectors, Thompson said. "Not everything will work for everybody," commented Shirley Thrush, Local 799. "But it’s a good building basis."
During consideration of "Collective Bargaining," Marianne Hart, District 10, stressed the importance of resolve 7(b), "Union leave and time off for union business." This language is necessary for the union to function democratically; the resistance of employers, particularly in first contracts, impedes union education and organizing work, Hart said.
The Convention accepted an amendment offered by Mike
Wilcox, Local 893, adding eye care and dental insurance to the
resolution’s benefit goals.
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