District 2 Council
Meets in a ‘UE Town,’
|District 2 delegates listen to reports.
The UE District 2 Council meeting here June 14-15 provided delegates with a good mix of shop reports, political action,
workshops, and discussion of resolutions at the upcoming national convention.
The council heard from and endorsed three candidates for statewide office in Massachusetts and Vermont: Green/Rainbow
Party candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, Jill Stein; Progressive Party candidate for Lt. Governor of Vermont, Anthony
Pollina; and Democratic Party candidate for Treasurer of Vermont, Ed Flanagan.
In her remarks, Jill Stein focused on the continued dominance of the Massachusetts state house by the Democratic Party.
With an 85 percent majority in both houses, the Democrats continue to betray the interests of working people, she charged. Meaningful
legislation for universal health care, campaign finance reform, corporate tax rates, and a clean environment is shelved or destroyed by
the party’s leadership, Stein said — and then Democrats blame the Republican Governor, despite their veto-proof majority.
The gubernatorial candidate advocated "instant run-off voting" (IRV) as an alternative to the current
"winner take-all" system, and the fear of vote splitting. In a three-candidate race for governor, for example, voters would be
able to pick their two top choices. If a voter’s first choice doesn’t win, his or her vote would go to the second choice, Stein
explained. Under this scenario, on a national scale, George Bush would not have been elected President.
Anthony Pollina decried the continued deindustrialization of Vermont and the failure of the state economic development
agency to do anything meaningful to save the facilities and protect good-paying union jobs. Pollina is well known throughout UE locals in
Vermont, as he has done much over the years to lend his voice to members’ struggles and walked many miles on UE picket lines.
In his platform, Ed Flanagan stressed the use of investment funds held by the state of Vermont to push for progressive
reform in pension funds and investment policies, as well as doing whatever possible to support workers’ rights and the right to
The Council also endorsed Elizabeth Ready, Democratic candidate for Vermont Auditor, as someone who supported and
worked on behalf of the workers at Berlin Health and Rehab. Delegates noted that she proved instrumental in getting the company to sit
down and negotiate a first contract for the nurse assistants, housekeepers, and kitchen staff, members of UE Local 254.
(UE Web Policy on Candidate Endorsements: While federal law prohibits unions from posting or reporting,
in any way, national or local union endorsements of candidates seeking federal office, we are
permitted to report on state and local endorsements.)
UE CONVENTION, POLITICAL ACTION
Genl. Pres. John Hovis recapped the recent wave of corporate corruption that has robbed thousands of workers of
their pensions. He announced that two resolutions would be submitted by the General Executive Board to the national convention in
September: to forego a national convention in 2004 and to give the national union authorization to purchase a national-office building.
Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend gave delegates the latest on political wrongdoing inside the Beltway, and
urged continued pressure on Congress to defeat "fast track" trade promotion authority. Townsend also treated delegates to a
"book fair," personally bringing cartons of books on labor, economics, and political issues and selling nearly all he brought.
Ed Bruno, former director of organization and Labor Party organizer, led a workshop on the Labor Party program and
paper "Toward a New Labor Law." Outlining the need for labor to build a new approach toward organizing and revitalizing the
labor movement, Bruno compared the lack of constitutional rights of workers in the U.S. workplace to the government telling Americans that
if they wanted to practice their religion, they could only do it in Canada.
The District Council endorsed seven resolutions for consideration by the 67th UE national
convention: "The UE Annual National Convention: Rank and File Democracy and Leadership in Action," "Health Care for
All," "Labor Law Reform," "Fight Homophobia," "Rank and File Political Action," "Stop Plant
Closings" and "Jobs with Justice." In addition the weekend was peppered with requests to buy 50/50 raffle tickets with 50
percent of the proceeds going to a fund to eventually help out small locals defray expenses of sending delegates to future annual national
conventions and the other 50% being won by a first time delegate from UE Local 204 (TA Kirkhill, Haskon Div.).
Home to UE Local 274, Greenfield is a base of UE influence in New England. The union represents many workers employed by
the major factories in the area, municipal workers of the two largest towns (Greenfield and Montague), schools workers, and regional
transit bus drivers and mechanics. This was the first District Two Council meeting in Greenfield in many decades; the interest of area UE
members in future district council meetings here was demonstrated by the large amalgamated UE local 274 delegation from area workplaces.