UE Leaders Hear Reports
In top photo, Pres.
John Hovis makes a point; he’s flanked by Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley
and Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark. Center photo: Judy Atkins and Doug Whitcomb
of District 2 and Connie Spinozzi and Barry Rideout of District 1.
Bottom: Bob Rudek, Carl Rosen and Bill Austin of District 11.
The 20-minute videotape didn’t leave this audience clamoring
for more: UE’s national leadership watched a slick film produced by The
Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO) designed to convince their 239 employees to
District Six Pres. John Lambiase noted that workers at
the North East, Pa. specialty copper mill played the video to show their
families where they work. "It’s very effective, but not effective
enough," he commented. TEMCO workers voted for UE representation on Dec.
As a first order of business at the Jan. 20-21 meeting here,
the union’s General Executive Board issued two new charters, to TEMCO
workers (UE Local 684) and new UE members employed by Grafton County, N. H.
(UE Local 278).
The General Executive Board consists of the presidents and
secretaries of the six UE districts and the three national officers.
Since the closing of the 64th UE Convention on Sept. 1 of last
year, UE has scored with five organizing wins, covering about 550 workers, and
experienced two losses, Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley reported. The new UE
members include factory, warehouse, school, corrections and nursing home
workers and will contribute to the growth of four UE districts.
In New Hampshire, Kingsley noted, the union won two separate
elections creating new UE Local 278. These new UE members are employed at the
Grafton County corrections facility and the county nursing
home. UE won
another public sector election in Ohio at Highland
Schools, establishing UE
Local 741, the second UE win in an Ohio school district in 1999.
The affiliation of an independent union at Penske Logistics in
Bethlehem, Pa. also occurred in this period, Kingsley pointed out. These
workers comprise Local 112. The union is expanding its affiliation work, as
called for by the 1999-2000 National Organizing Plan adopted at the
64th Convention, the national officer observed. Four senior staff members are
contacting independent unions nationally and scheduling special presentations,
placing emphasis on preserving member-run independent unions within the labor
movement. Board members viewed UE’s 30-minute special presentation to
independent unions and made suggestions for strengthening it.
Other organizing work includes a multi-union, multi-national
alliance targeting organizing in North America in the Freudenberg-NOK chain
and a hospital organizing campaign in which UE is working jointly with the
California Nurses Association. The UE organizing director also noted that
plans are being made for investigating prospects in major chains where the
union already has bargaining rights, and that longer-range organizing plans in
New England are focused on large factories in New Hampshire and Connecticut.
UE is continuing a 14-month first-contract fight at Glastic
Plastics in Jefferson, Ohio. Formerly owned by Kobe Steel of Japan, the
company has been sold to Michigan-based Cambridge Industries. Negotiations
with the new owners are scheduled. First contracts are also pending at six
other newly organized workplaces employing about 600 workers.
State-level political action conferences are scheduled in
Districts Two, Seven and 11, reported Political Action Dir. Chris
Townsend. UE’s national leadership sees these conferences as an
alternative to annual political action conferences in Washington, D.C.
In a discussion on the Labor
Party, District 11 Pres. Carl
Rosen proposed that UE recommend to the Labor Party a revised strategy for
building the party. Board members proposed that the June GEB meeting consider
what UE resources should be committed to that project and develop a UE
proposal on the electoral process for the Labor Party.
Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark reported on the protests
against the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the WTO’s Ministerial
Meeting in Seattle at the end of November. After discussing the violation of
basic labor rights in Colombia, Board members agreed to raise this issue at
district council meetings taking place this month. (Look for a UE NEWS
feature on the Colombian situation in March.)
Genl. Pres. John Hovis, with Sec.-Treas. Clark and Dir.
of Org. Kingsley, led a discussion on the benefits of rank-and-file unionism
over business unionism. Board members examined membership involvement in
political action, negotiations, training and addressing grievances through
membership struggle, and the size and structure of local unions compared to
the 1930s and 1940s, as well as the inherent problems and higher costs of
nurturing and maintaining an active rank-and-file union versus the cost of the
business agent structure in a typical business union.
Reconvening as the trustees of the UE Employees Pension Plan,
the union leaders approved increases for currently retired UE staff, as
proposed by Genl. Sec.-Treas. Clark.
UE News - 02/00