District 6 Meeting Reflects
Of Busy, Fighting Union
The Local 684 delegation reports; Crystal Pratt (at podium)
with Mike Lane, Ron Lane, Mike Drakulic and Ron Maines. Seated are district
officers: Fin. Sec. Dave Adams, Pres. John Lambiase, Rec. Sec. Mary Ice and
Pat McCaughtry, district staff.
A wide-ranging District Six Council meeting here March 3-4
heard remarks by all three UE national officers on the proposed financial
plan, detailed reports on shop struggles, extensive political action
discussion and news from the front-lines of UE organizing.
Commenting on both the national and district financial plans
presented to delegates, District Pres. John Lambiase insisted that the
basic solution is expansion of union ranks and working-class power.
"I don’t believe it is just a question of finances, it
is also a question of organizing the unorganized," Lambiase declared.
"Studies have shown working people want unions but the laws we have today
make it very difficult to organize new unions."
Difficult, but not impossible: Lambiase cited the union’s
Labor Board election success in the region.
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley, with the aid of slides, led
delegates through a description of the union’s finances and explanation of
the plan for financial stability and growth endorsed by the General Executive
Board in January. The plan calls for a reduction in the annual budget deficit
with continued high levels of organizing.
"This is not a done deal," Kingsley said.
"Rather, we’re here to ask your consideration of the plan. Our goal is
a discussion of the facts for the future."
Genl. Pres. John Hovis and Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob
Clark added their perspectives on the plan and fielded questions.
UE field staff are busily pursuing leads in unorganized
workplaces throughout western Pennsylvania, from Erie to Uniontown.
Buterbaugh, Local 692 and Sue Falk, Local 697, listen to the discussion.
Crystal Pratt and Mike Drakulic of Local 684
reported to the council on the frustratingly slow pace of negotiations for a
first contract with The Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO) in North East. The
union fights grievances on the shop floor and has been successful with 30
unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board,
Pratt said. "We have heard the company had a record year," she said
— TEMCO workers are looking to make a record with a contract.
Drakulic told delegates he traveled to Wisconsin for a meeting
with the owner of the parent company. "The UE stopped him from running
away with our money," Drakulic said. Delegates passed the hat for Ron
Lane, a TEMCO worker unjustly fired for union involvement. "Keep the
faith, feel good about yourself and keep us in your thoughts and
prayers," said Lane. "We are proud to be here."
Local 611 members at Newell Porcelain turned up the heat on
the boss to get the boss to turn the heat on, Scott Allison reported.
WABCO is the largest manufacturer in North America of the brakes and rubber
for the locomotives produced by UE members at the General Electric plant in
Erie, pointed out Sonny Marcin, Local 610 — who reported on the
substantial wage increases and other gains in a recently negotiated contract.
SOLIDARITY & POLITICAL ACTION
Merle Crossland said Local 625 is aiding nearby United
Mine Workers members on strike — an idea district council delegates readily
endorsed. The council voted to donate half of the day’s 50/50 drawing to the
striking mine workers.
Donna Cramer of Local 506, District Six political action
co-chair, said she’s been going after U.S. Rep. Phil English because
of his support of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, which UE wants to
close. Delegates saw a film, SOA: Guns with Greed, which shows how
combat-ready SOA graduates (Latin American military) use their guns to protect
John Thompson, a Local 690 member who is the district’s
other political action co-chair, analyzed the election results and reviewed
the threats to workers’ jobs and working conditions in pending legislation.
UE News - 03/01