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District Two Council Reports –
UE Organizing in
Northern New England


The UE committee at the Grafton County Nursing Home ...
The UE committee at the Grafton County Nursing Home reported on their negotiations at the District 2 Council meeting in West Lebanon, N.H. From left, Sylvia Martin, CNA, Florence Frost, Housekeeping, Kathy Allen, CNA, Bev Presby, CNA, Barbara Klinger, CNA.

Here on the New Hampshire-Vermont border, where unorganized workers are responding to UE’s message of organizing, delegates to the District Two Council meeting on June 23-24 heard first-hand reports of those efforts — and their results.

Nursing home and correctional staff employed by Grafton County here in northern New Hampshire reported on their first-contract negotiations. The staff of the Northeast Kingdom Headstart nearby in Vermont negotiated a first contract that awaits approval by the agency’s board.

Active campaigns at a nursing home in Vermont and at Split Ball Bearing, a plant of more than 400 workers in Lebanon, also came to delegates’ attention. Representatives of the Split Ball Bearing organizing committee described how they write and distribute newsletters in the plant, use the company’s "dispute resolution" procedure to bring grievances to management’s attention and have set up a "UE@Timken" website ( Slowly but surely they are building a UE majority.


The District Council was addressed by Anthony Pollina, the Progressive Party candidate for governor of Vermont. Pollina told the council he is running to win. Vermont Progressives have already been elected to the Burlington City Council and state legislature. State campaign reform legislation has freed candidates’ reliance on big donors.

The candidate questioned why state spending on prisons has gone up 150 percent while spending on education has increased only 7 percent. Pollina pledged to encourage Vermonters to join unions and to work to stop corporate intimidation of workers who seek to organize.

UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark brought news of union developments nationwide, especially the then ongoing national talks with General Electric. He noted UE’s leadership role in those negotiations.

Many local leaders reported on contract settlements, describing language and wage increases won through membership involvement.

Norma Sprague, UE Local 267 chief steward at the University of Vermont, reported on a recently negotiated wage re-opener. She also attended an International Solidarity Conference in Montreal, Quebec and was preparing to participate in a visit to Mexico co-sponsored by UE’s sister union, the Authentic Labor Front (FAT).

Retired union members will soon outnumber active union members, reported Phil Mamber, president of Mass Senior Action. In response, District Two Pres. Judy Atkins encouraged delegates to build the union so that Mamber’s organization is not bigger than theirs! Mamber, a former District Two president, is willing to help locals organize their retirees.

The council meeting concluded with a workshop entitled "The Growing Divide." Presented by Joan Parker from United for a Fair Economy, the workshop graphically described the transfer of wealth and power from "Us to Them" that has occurred over the last few decades. The workshop was well received; delegates agreed to use the illustrative graphs in their locals and in their communities.

UE News - 07/00

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