District 2 Welcomes
University of Vermont
||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
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 wouldnt be here
today with a new UE local," Kingsley commented.
Bernie Sanders, Vermonts 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 Universitys attitude towards its employees
has changed noticeably, said Brad Bluto, a UVM worker. "From an attitude of you
dont 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