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District 11 Council
Meeting Focus on Struggle


Taking a break from struggle: District 11 Council delegates relax at picnic.
Taking a break from struggle: District 11 Council delegates relax at picnic.

District 11 Council delegates from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and South Dakota gathered here on the banks of the Mississippi June 21-22 to report on ongoing struggles waged at the bargaining table, through the grievance procedure and in new organizational efforts.

UE’s Iowa public-sector locals all reported fightbacks in response to budget crises.

Local 893 Pres. Bill Austin said the state workers who belong to his statewide local union have responded to budget cuts by participating in demonstrations around Iowa and by filing group grievances on behalf of "furloughed" workers. The State of Iowa is trying to balance the budget on the backs of state workers by giving them unpaid days off without reducing their workload, a violation of the contract, Austin explained.

Budget cuts at the University of Iowa are used by management in an effort to increase the workload of union members, reported Lise A. Vandervoort, newly elected president of Local 896. The local union has sponsored forums on the budget in the community and carried out an intensive sign-up of new members, she said. As a result of this work, union membership among University of Iowa graduate employees is at an all-time high in this so-called "right-to-work" state, Vandervort pointed out.


The employer still pays the deductible amount for each member’s health insurance as a result of recent negotiations between Local 1145 and Western Iowa Technical College, announced Local Pres. Linda Wideman. She also noted that the successful negotiations yielded a 5.5 percent wage increase over two years and established a sick-leave bank that can be shared among union members. Wideman reported that Local 1145 is resisting college attempts to pull two existing jobs out of the bargaining unit.

The Local 1111 membership in Milwaukee is gearing up for a major contract battle with Allen-Bradley/Rockwell management over job security, wages and benefits, indicated Local Pres. Bob Rudek. "It is ironic that AB/Rockwell, a world leader in automation, would threaten to move jobs out of Milwaukee, and take them to China, where they would be done by hand!" he said.

Local 1111 members are going on the offensive by targeting all non-union Rockwell locations in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois for visits in July. The UE rank and file will be making use of the National Labor Relations Board’s new Hillhaven Highland House decision which allows union members from one location to visit non-union facilities owned by the same company.


Despite what District Pres. Carl Rosen termed a "jobless recovery" in his report, UE is making progress in organizing within the district.

Azteca workers in Chicago, organized as UE Local 1159, triumphed in a NLRB election in April. Negotiations Committee members Teresa Morales and Rene Matamoras reported on the tough bargaining for a first UE contract.

The struggle for justice at National Tissue, where mass firings prevented a union election victory, is going to the next level with a NLRB trial scheduled for July, said Intl. Rep. Bob Clark. The union is challenging company attacks against immigrant workers.

Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley pointed out that a new campaign to organize logistical workers began this spring in Chicago, with the UE message getting out to more than 6,000 workers at more than 30 worksites.


The UE officer also led a workshop that explored the effects of globalization on UE members. Delegates came to the conclusion that protection of co-workers’ jobs and conditions depended on teaming up with other unions around the world.

Delegates signed postcards opposing immigration law "reform" that discriminates against undocumented workers. Local 1121 Pres. Jeff Tilson reported that a delegation from Wisconsin locals met with the governor to push UE’s political agenda. Delegates also heard reports on the establishment of a Jobs with Justice chapter in Milwaukee and the visit of a delegation from Mexico’s Authentic Labor Front (FAT).

UE News - 7/02

Home -> UE News -> 2002 Archives -> Article

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