District 6 Welcomes
And Local 684
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley presents a delegation of TEMCO
workers with the charter for Local 684. Arrayed behind the podium are Local
684 members Mark Howard, Mike Patrick, Mike Drakulic, Crystal Pratt, Pete
Lawrence Jr., Roy Bolinger, Leon Durrance, Ken Benden and Dale Wilkinson.
Below: Crystal Pratt proudly holds up the new local's charter.
Since its inception, The Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO) has
operated non-union. But no more. At the UE District Six Council meeting here
Feb. 26, Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley presented a proud delegation of nine
TEMCO workers a charter for UE Local 684 on behalf of their more than 200
co-workers. They received an enthusiastic and emotional welcome from council
The "eighty-four" in Local 684 represents the many
years workers employed by the Erie County specialty copper mill have gone
without a union, a period brought to an end with their Dec. 9 election
Pulling his UE membership card out of his back pocket, TEMCO
worker Mike Drakulic proclaimed, "I’ve waited 28 years for
this!" TEMCO workers, as Charles Tangle, Local 683, observed, will
"never have to feel alone again."
Drakulic, Mark Howard, Michael Patrick and Crystal
Pratt expressed their thanks to rank-and-filers who helped them gain a
union that will power their efforts to reverse the slide in conditions under
District Six Pres. John Lambiase and Intl. Rep. Debra
Gornall presented awards to rank-and-file volunteers who contributed to
the victory through participation in home visits — among them Bill
Callahan, Local 751, whose union-building efforts crossed state lines and
Last year’s convention adopted an ambitious plan to build
the union, said Kingsley; "we’ve been busy." Organizing campaigns
are underway in every district, he pointed out. The TEMCO
campaign and Henry Mayo Hospital campaign in
California are two of the biggest UE has taken on in the months since.
The UE officer said TEMCO workers exhibited courage in the
face of a difficult organizing climate. A tough committee inside the shop and
assistance of volunteers helped make the difference.
"The less we’re organized the more we’ll be
exploited," Kingsley reminded delegates.
The "Battle of Seattle" over trade policies
represented an important beginning in a new fight for people, not profits,
Kingsley said. He encouraged the District Six leaders to join the thousands in
Washington, D.C. on April 16 to protest the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund and policies which encourage the lowering of living standards
In November, a delegation led by District Pres. Lambiase
joined a demonstration demanding the closure of the U.S. Army School of the
Americas at Fort Benning, Ga.; he and John Thompson, Local 690,
reported on the event. The school trains Latin American military officers; UE
is concerned that so many "graduates" have been connected to the
murder of union leaders and the repression of the labor movement in their
After their report, Mick Patrick of new Local 684 asked what
more could be done to close the school; delegates voted to circulate a
petition for submission to Members of Congress.
Delegates voted to send resolutions to the UE National
convention on closing the School of the Americas, saving public education and
promoting retiree organizations.
Delegates agreed to back labor efforts in the Fourth
Congressional District to hold rallies focusing on the issues important to
working people. Ed Grystar, president of the Butler County Labor
Council, stressed the importance of building labor’s political independence.
Workshop On Grievances Nets Volleyball Example
District Six discussion on economic growth and grievances on
past practices collided on a volleyball court.
Facing increased business, Kenson Plastics in
is expanding its plant — right into the employee volleyball court. Local 690
persuaded the company to move the court, said Local Pres. Jim Tew.
The volleyball court, said District Pres. John
Lambiase, is an
example of a past practice. All written and unwritten and implied agreements a
company makes with the union fall into the category of past practices and are
subject to the grievance procedure, explained Lambiase, who led a council
workshop on the subject.
In shop reports, a number of delegates reported that the
strong economy is translating into increased production, new hires and plant
expansion. But this hasn’t come without problems.
Tom Migdal, Local 692, reported on three serious accidents
within a week; the Ervite plant has new owners, a full order book and several
new hires. The success and growth of Reid Plastics has led to its purchase by
a bigger company; Local 690 members are watching the ramifications of the sale
carefully, said John Thompson.
John Shaplye, Local 610, said WABCO workers accepting
retirement incentives are not being replaced. That’s also true at the
General Electric plant in Erie, reported David Adams, Local 506.
Delegates from Locals 506 and 618 reported on preparations for upcoming
national negotiations with GE and the 2000 UE Convention, which will take
place in Erie. David Kitchen, Local 506, reported the local union for
the first time has a female chief steward — Patte Dillen.
Betsy Potter, Local 618, noted that the joint 506-618
Legislative Action Committee is pressing Rep. Phil English (R., Pa.) to
oppose normal trade relations with China.
Giving a shop report for the first time, Charles Tangle, Local
683, detailed the successful outcome of a grievance at Liberty Iron that gave
workers who observed Martin Luther King Day time and one-half when they worked
the following Saturday.
Delegates also discussed arrangements for the Pennsylvania UE
Political Action Day, to take place in conjunction with District One on May 8
in Harrisburg; viewed the film At the River I Stand, about the 1968
Memphis sanitation workers’ strike and Rev. Martin Luther King; and
participated in workshops on past practice grievances and information
UE News - 03/00