District 1 Council Grapples
With Basic Questions
DISTRICT 1 DELEGATES
MARCH AND RALLY: UE’s Bob Clark was a featured speaker at a rally in
Bethlehem, Pa. supporting the Labor Party’s Just Health Care campaign.
More than 100 people took part in the march and rally, co-sponsored by the
Brennan Chapter of the Labor Party, UE Local 111 and Teamsters Local 773.
In word and deed, delegates to the District One Council
grappled with how to gain power — in the workplace and in society, to
improve the lives of working people — when Mid-Atlantic UE local leaders met
here May 6.
In her remarks to the council, Pres. Connie Spinozzi
said District One is committed to new organizing, the most effective means of
building working-class power. As union strength declines overall, working
people are working longer hours and getting paid less; layoffs continue to
hurt labor, she said.
"What does it mean to be a union?" asked Genl. Sec.-Treas.
Bob Clark. Being willing to fight for social change, he suggested.
Unions are power — and working people need more power, Clark said.
The national officer reviewed the major developments around
the union, including national negotiations with General Electric underway as
of May 30. Clark expressed UE’s continuing commitment to organizing the
unorganized, and like District Pres. Spinozzi, applauded the exciting effort
to build the North Carolina Public Service Workers’ Union, UE Local 150.
UE continues to build the Labor Party, Bob Clark declared —
and district delegates took to the streets for a march and rally in support of
the Labor Party’s Just Health Care campaign. The rally was co-sponsored by UE
Local 111 and Teamsters Local 773. Among the rally speakers was UE’s Bob
Clark, who said a national health plan is a necessity. "It’s a great
injustice that when people lose their jobs in the United States, they lose
their right to receive health care for themselves and their families."
Pres. Lester Koch happily accepts the charter for Local 112
and congratulations from Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark.
The Bethlehem Drivers and Dockworkers Union voted to affiliate
with UE last fall (see: UE a Perfect Fit For Independent
Truckers' Union); Lester Koch, president of new UE Local 112 expressed
his gratitude, and pride, in being associated with UE. He accepted the Local
112 charter from Bob Clark on behalf of his co-workers.
Local 150 Pres. Barbara Prear and Rec. Sec. Novella
Townsend reported there is a real feeling of movement at the University of
North Carolina. Local 150 has a presence on 12 of the UNC campuses; an
organizing blitz in April signed up 200 new members.
In other local reports, Barry Rideout, Local 120, said
in his shop the union faces a challenge to maintain unity; Joe Danik,
Local 121, said his co-workers are taking on the boss over safety issues,
including sufficient lighting in the loading dock area. Local 124’s Bob
Holbert reported that conditions are improving and steps are being taken
to achieve a more unified workforce. Tom Dininny, Local 329, and Vince
Perrotta, Local 417, spoke of their locals’ ongoing struggles. Perotta
said his shop is experiencing layoffs and will probably close in the near
future. He expressed his appreciation for UE and the comradery of District
Intl. Rep. Bruce Klipple gave a presentation designed
for independent unions. Entitled "Member Run Unionism," it sparked
an insightful discussion as delegates considered the importance of member
participation in member-run unionism. Union participation was described as
"the university of the working class." Delegates pointed out the
importance and the need to stress labor education within existing locals.
UE News - 06/00