District 2 Council
Southeastern Massachusetts heaviest snowfall of the season
didnt prevent delegates from arriving to the District Two Council meeting on Feb. 26
or dampen their enthusiasm.
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley
District Pres. Judy Atkins
In fact, delegates from Boston, North Shore and Taunton area locals met at
10 a.m. prior to the start of the council meeting to discuss rank-and-file involvement in
organizing with UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley, Intl. Rep. Harry Authelet and District
Pres. Judy Atkins.
With everyone agreed on the importance of organizing the unorganized, the
discussion entered on finding ways to allow members to become involved in organizing while
keeping their locals strong. The key, participants said, is to get more members involved
and to allocate responsibilities according to individuals strengths.
The district council considered whether UE should continue the practice of
annual national convention, in response to a question raised by the General Executive
Board at its last meeting. Delegates answered in the affirmative.
Organizing targets approved by delegates include a large manufacturing
plant in northern New England and a hospital where organizing will take place in
conjunction with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. The discussion on organizing
included reports of progress in first-contract negotiations with the University of
Vermont, Old Rochester School District and The Literacy Project.
Why isnt Congress angrier with the large companies that continue to
wreck workers lives and communities by shipping jobs out of this country? That was
the question Local 204 Pres. Fred Garcia put to U.S. Rep. James McGovern, a
guest speaker. The Fall River Democrat noted his disagreement with President Clinton on
trade agreements and the military budget and agreement with the White House on protection
of Social Security and Medicare.
Is it right that today under our Constitution corporations seem to have
more legal rights than we, the people, do? Author Peter Kellman posed this question
as he traced the evolution of corporate legal rights over the last century and raised
issues that underlie the Labor Partys workers rights campaign. The guest
speaker, who had been involved in the Jay, Maine paperworkers strike in the 1980s,
raised the critical question: Can we fight back and regain some control over the
corporations impact on our lives as workers and consumers?
The district council will be planning more workshops on corporate power
and the role of corporations in the U.S.
The February council meeting also included a workshop on
"Member-to-Member Harassment." Intl. Rep. Dave Cohen led the discussion on how
the union can respond when members engage in racial, sexual and other forms of harassment
against one another.
Fred Garcia, whose local represents workers at Haskon in Taunton, opened
the council meeting.