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GEB Weighs Schedule
Change, Recruitment Plan

Bob Kingsley

At the UE
Board Meeting

Connie Spinozzi, Bruce Pridgen, Bob Rudek, Carl Rosen
John Hovis and Bob Clark

General Executive Board meeting in January. Clockwise from upper left: Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley; Pres. John Hovis and Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark; District 6 Sec. Dave Adams, District 6 Pres. John Lambiase and District 10 Sec. Marianne Hart; District 1 Pres. Connie Spinozzi, District 1 Sec. Butch Pridgen, District 11 Sec. Bob Rudek and District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen. Not pictured are Bill Austin, District 11, and District 7 Pres. Joyce Clayborne.

Dave Adams, John Lambiase, Maryanne Hart


The union’s General Executive Board weighed organizational, financial and political issues at its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting here Jan. 21-22.

There was good news and bad news.

As a first act of business, the Board approved issuance of charters to newly organized workers at public sector and manufacturing work sites in Iowa and Ohio. The GEB greeted the report of UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley that the union has won five elections since UE’s National convention in late August.

A number of organizing efforts are underway, Kingsley reported; rank-and-file organizing meetings have taken place in each UE district. UE is already testing the "neutrality" pact reached between the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) and the World Chlorine Council that took effect Jan. 1. (UE is an ICEM affiliate.)

In addition, new UE locals reached four first contracts in the last quarter, Kingsley said.

But there were also two charters revoked as a result of plant closures that plagued UE members last year despite the strong economy. Genl. Pres. John Hovis read a letter of resignation from National Trustee Brian McKim, of Local 212, due to the loss of his job in the partial closing of Beloit Fiber Systems in Pittsfield, Mass. McKim expressed pride and satisfaction in "25-plus years" of UE membership.

As part of the National union’s continuing effort to balance activities and finances, the national officers raised for discussion the possibility of staggering the schedule of national union events.

Specifically, Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark proposed holding the National Convention, and the Political Action Conference and Leadership Institute, in alternate years. Clark, backed by the other two officers, suggested that financial resources, time and energy could be saved by alternating these events, benefiting the districts and locals as well as the National union. Fewer events might encourage more participation from the locals, they said.


Discussion indicated widespread agreement that the National union’s 1998 schedule may have been overloaded with a political action conference, UE National convention and Labor Party constitutional convention. But not everyone was convinced that the union should abandon the annual convention. Important to UE’s democratic practice, the annual convention gives delegates the opportunity to set policy and elect the union’s top officers every year. And while expressing concern about the expenditure of finances and energy involved, many GEB members also cited the educational value of the convention.

"Those who have commented on the wonderful aspects of the annual convention are absolutely right," said Kingsley. "But can we afford it, how long can we afford it and how does it fit in with the union today?" Also important to consider, suggested Hovis, are the obstacles employers are increasingly placing in the way of workers who try to take time off to attend union activities. "It’s another reason to look at the overall picture and find a balance," he said.

After a discussion that spanned two days, Board members decided to solicit members’ views on the issue, particularly at this month’s district council meetings. The GEB will revisit the matter at its May meeting.

The GEB also had a lengthy discussion on the proportion of people of color on the UE staff, sparked by a letter to Pres. Hovis from Milwaukee local leaders. Dir. of Org. Kingsley pointed out that in the mid-1990s the percentage of field staff who were people of color reached an historic high of nearly 25 percent, while women and people of color together made up more than half the staff. These percentages dropped as a result of attrition and staff cuts in recent years, he said.

The officers expressed their commitment to develop plans to recruit and retain people of color on the staff and recruit from within the union’s ranks.

Pres. Hovis and Education Dir. Carol Lambiase distributed and explained materials developed for workshops available through the union’s education program; Hovis noted the union is especially trying to bring the educational program deeper within UE’s ranks. Chris Townsend, UE political action director, looked at the Labor Party convention and the party’s plans for campaigns on trade issues, workers’ rights, health care and defense of Social Security. He explained the division of labor within the Labor Party that will see the union taking responsibility for helping the party to advance its Social Security program.

UE News - 02/99

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