District 10 Meets,
To Building the Union
Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark addresses the District 10 Council.
Listening at right are Vice Pres. Ida Betts, Rec. Sec. Maria Gonzalez, Pres. Joe Chavez
and Treas. Marianne Hart.
Delegates from all over the state of California came together at District
10s council meeting Feb. 12-13. The UE leaders reaffirmed their commitment to
organize, build the Labor Party, strengthen international solidarity and to move towards
greater rank-and-file self-sufficiency. Workshops were conducted on changing the workers
compensation law in California and how to conduct elections according to the Labor Dept.
Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark brought the message of rank-and-file
self-sufficiency to the district, explaining the advantages of members taking a greater
role in the servicing of their locals as well as in our organizing work. "The boss
prefers to deal with the staff person, because that person will go away, when your
employer has to deal with you and see you every day, thats when we make real gains
in respect and better working conditions," he said.
District Treas. Marianne Hart confirmed that members also make the
best organizers: "We are our best ambassadors, the best at finding contacts, the key
to our successes in organizing."
District 10 will also strengthen its relationship with Mexicos
Authentic Labor Front (FAT) when Pres. Joe Chavez participates in the upcoming
Mexico tour sponsored by the union. Chavez looks at the trip as crucial to our organizing
work in the state, "in California especially, this relationship is very important, I
hope to discuss common labor problems and border issues with our brothers and sisters in
Vice Pres. Ida "Bunny" Betts reported on the district's
activities with the Labor Party, giving an inspiring talk on the convention last fall.
"now is the time to build the Labor Party, people are sick of the impeachment trial,
they are sick and tired of the corporations running the government, let's act together to
make our vision a reality!"
An effort is underway in California to reform the workers comp laws
that have caused misery for many injured workers; the election of a new governor last fall
opens a window for discussion. In the workers comp workshop UE members listened and
shared what they thought was fair treatment for injured and disabled workers.
In a workshop on union elections conducted by Labor Dept. representatives,
members learned the minimum requirements for elections, including frequency, notification
of membership, and voting procedures. They also found out some little-known facts; for
example, convicted felons are prohibited from running for office.
Each local delegate reported on the struggles in their workplaces, with
many describing common problems of fighting outsourcing, the use of temporary workers and
health and safety concerns. Members shared strategies and some recent wins, including a
report by Jose Reyes, chief steward at Kraco, Local 1421, who recently recovered
over $3,000 in back wages for two members of his shop. All left with the resolve to work
towards stronger locals and a stronger union.