District Six Solidarity
Streets of Erie
UE members from Local 506, other Erie
locals and District 6 Council delegates took part in a June 10 march and rally
sponsored by the unions of Erie County.
Speakers included UE Pres. John Hovis
(pictured at top, right), District 6 Pres. John Lambiase and Mike Drakulic of Local
684, as well as State AFL-CIO Pres. William George and other labor leaders.
Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley
reported on the revised National union financial plan. District 6 Pres. John
Lambiase (below, right) chaired the District 6 meeting, which took place in the Local
506 union hall.
Delegates to the District Six Council meeting completed a
packed agenda on the afternoon and evening of June 9 that included discussion
of the revised National union financial plan, attention to first-contract
struggles and a workshop on public education. The following morning, delegates
joined hundreds of union members from around Erie County in a march and rally
celebrating labor solidarity.
As work slows at a number of UE-represented shops in western
Pennsylvania, West Virginia and western New York, District Six Pres. John
Lambiase said, the Bush Administration pursues policies that are "not
our agenda" — tax cuts for the wealthy, appointment of corporate
officials to top Administration posts and lucrative contracts to corporate
Taking a closer look at the Bush tax cuts, Lambiase asked
delegates to imagine a shop of 100 workers, and a contract that gives 40 cents
of every dollar wage increase to the highest paid employee. "Public
services will be cut for those who need them, and the tax cuts will go to
those who don’t."
"We’re in class warfare," Lambiase declared.
"If we’re not throwing punches, we’re taking hits."
District Six Council delegates received a detailed report on
the revised National union financial plan from all three of UE’s top
officers. The revision is based on discussion at the last District Six Council
meeting in March and at other district council and local union meetings since
the adoption of the plan by the General Executive Board in January.
Leading off, Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley reported on
current organizing efforts to point out that organizing new members has always
been the top priority for the union — and that by improving the working
conditions of unorganized workers we also guarantee the future of our union.
Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark told delegates that the
officers followed through on suggestions and criticism from the membership. A
less expensive national headquarters was a major recommendation, Clark said,
and he has been busy working on achieving that goal.
"This is an opportunity to ensure ourselves of a future,
of our ability to back up workers in fights with the boss," said Genl.
Pres. John Hovis. "These tough decision in your hands," he
observed. "I don’t know of another national union where members have
this kind of voice and shot at the national officers."
Local 684 continues its 18-month-long fight for a first
contract with The Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO), a specialty copper mill in
North East. The large delegation from Local 684 received a standing ovation
when shop leaders reported they are signing up new hires and intend to
Workers at the Lutheran Home, members of District 1199P have
been on strike against the Erie nursing home for five months to achieve a
first contract. Bridget Evans, a Certified Nurse’s Aide with 12 years
at the home, explained how short staffing and management’s lack of respect
and flagrant unionbusting forced the strike. Neil Bisno, vice president
of 1199P, briefed delegates on the disgrace of short staffing and mandatory
overtime created by the profit-driven health care crisis. Delegates raised
more than $200 for the Lutheran Home strikers.
POLICY AND ACTION
The district council approved resolutions calling for defense
and improvement of public education, closure of the former U.S. Army School
and a ban on mandatory overtime.
In his report, Political Action Co-Chair John Thompson urged
an all-out campaign this summer to defeat "trade promotion
authority" (fast track), recognized by all sides as crucial to the Bush
Administration’s plans for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Political Action Co-Chair Donna Cramer and Sue Smock,
both Local 506 members, reported on their participation in the People’s
Summit and protests against the FTAA in Quebec in April. FTAA is an extension
of NAFTA to every nation in the Americas except Cuba. "With FTAA anything
goes, and what’s going to go is our jobs!" Smock declared.
Delegates participated in a workshop on schools, led by Intl.
Rep. Carol Lambiase, which emphasized the importance to working people
of free, public education and the harm posed by privatization and vouchers.
The earliest unions took public education as their goal, said Tom Migdal,
Local 692; in those days, "only the aristocrats in society had
UE OFFICES SOUGHT
Bruce Klipple spoke briefly to delegates about his
candidacy for the office of General Secretary-Treasurer, emphasizing his 22
years in the union as a rank-and-file member, steward, local president, field
organizer and, for the past 11 years, international representative. (Incumbent
Bob Clark is not seeking re-election.)
Delegates nominated officers, to be elected at the October
meeting. Nominated were John Lambiase, president; Tom George,
vice president; David Adams and Randy Majewski, financial
secretary; Mary Ice, recording secretary; Walt Franke, Scott
Buterbaugh, Jim Tew, Lynda Leech, Gretchen Kelly, David Kitchen, Charles
Tangle, Bryan Rice, Scott Allison and Fred Haag, executive board; Patrick
Rafferty, Mary Stewart and Don Kosobucki, trustees; Sue Smock,
alternate trustee; and John Thompson and Donna Cramer, political
Editor's Note: This story differs from the version
published in the printed version of the UE News.