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District 2 Welcomes
University of Vermont
Workers

PITTSFIELD, Mass.

uen_0498_d2.gif (10824 bytes)
. The new members of UE Local 267 proudly hold their charter, presented by Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley (at left). District Pres. Judith Atkins is fifth from left

Delegates to the UE District Two Council meeting here in February warmly welcomed the large number of new UE members from the University of Vermont. The more than 300 service and maintenance employees won their union election on Dec. 10; at the council meeting, the UVM delegation proudly accepted the charter of new UE Local 267 from Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley.

Unity among the UVM workers was crucial to their success, reported UE Field Organizers Mark Meinster and Rachel Wells. "If we had run an ‘English-Only’ campaign we would have lost," Meinster said, pointing to the importance of Vietnamese and Bosnian votes to the UE tally.

"If we left undone anything that we did do, we wouldn’t be here today with a new UE local," Kingsley commented.

Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s independent member of Congress, helped bring that campaign to a successful conclusion by speaking at rallies and publicly encouraged workers to join UE.

A NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENT

Since the election, the University’s attitude towards its employees has changed noticeably, said Brad Bluto, a UVM worker. "From an attitude of ‘you don’t know anything,’ it has become ‘Do you mind if we transfer someone to a different shift’"

Spirits are high among all the workers at the university, the delegation reported. Local 267 has started stewards training and negotiations for a first contract are already underway; Field Org. Kimberly Lawson is assisting the new local.

Delegates heard reports on first-contract bargaining with the Old Rochester Regional School District, where custodians voted unanimously for UE representation last fall. Carl Olsen, former president of UE Local 284, and Mark Greenaway, head custodian, gave the reports.

Exceptionally good contract gains were made at Bryant Grinder in Springfield, Vt., reported Chris Coughlin and Brahm Muther of Local 218. They told the district council that every member was involved in the contract struggle, with excellent communication maintained by CBs, e-mail, newsletters and a telephone tree. Local 218 "burn barrels" warmed the workers who held a vigil through the last night of negotiations and into the next day as they waited, without working, for the company to improve its last offer.

Negotiations were in progress between Local 243 and Sargent Lock in New Haven, Conn. as the council met. Ray Pompano announced plans for a massive rally in front of the plant on March 7 if a contract had not been reached; as reported elsewhere in this issue, that rally was canceled when Local 243 successfully rebuffed major concessions.

OLVER: WORKING PEOPLE
NOT GETTING THEIR FAIR SHARE

U.S. Rep. John Olver, a Democrat who represents western Massachusetts, told delegates that working people are not getting their fair share of current economic prosperity. The Congressman advocated raising the minimum wage, spending public money on public schools, limits on the unscrupulous managed care insurance companies, protection of Social Security and expansion of Medicare.

There are a lot of battles ahead, Rep. Olver said. In particular, he cited Republican attempts to impose a gag order on unions and their members, which he said must be stopped. (See Page 3.)

On Saturday morning, delegates chose between educational workshops. Intl. Rep. David Cohen led a workshop on "New Management Bargaining Techniques" while Intl. Rep. Harry Authelet conducted "Bargaining for Health Care."

The district council was hosted by UE Local 212 at Beloit Pulping in nearby Dalton.

UE News - 03/98


Home -> UE News -> 1998 Archives -> Article

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