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UE Leaders Hear Reports
Of Growth Since Convention

PITTSBURGH

Kingsley, Hovis, Clark
Atkins, Whitcomb, Spinozzi, Rideout
Rudek, Rosen, Austin
In top photo, Pres. John Hovis makes a point; hes 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 didnt leave this audience clamoring for more: UEs national leadership watched a slick film produced by The Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO) designed to convince their 239 employees to reject organization.

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. "Its very effective, but not effective enough," he commented. TEMCO workers voted for UE representation on Dec. 9.

As a first order of business at the Jan. 20-21 meeting here, the unions 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.

ORGANIZING GAINS

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 UEs 30-minute special presentation to independent unions and made suggestions for strengthening it.

NEW ORGANIZING

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.

POLITICAL ACTION

State-level political action conferences are scheduled in Districts Two, Seven and 11, reported Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend. UEs 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.

GLOBAL CONCERNS

Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark reported on the protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the WTOs 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


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