District 11: Largest
Council Meeting in
At the largest District 11 Council meeting in recent memory, delegates
gathered here on June 20-21 to celebrated several first contracts and reaffirmed their
mission to build the union across the Midwest.
Adding to District Pres. Carl Rosens warning of an economic
downturn, several delegates testified to feeling the effects of a shadow economy quite
unlike that highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. Nevertheless, the tone was one of
The results of that determination could be seen in eight first contracts
achieved since the previous district council meeting. Iowa school support staff continued
their forward march under the UE banner with seven of those first contracts; Quad City Die
Cast workers in East Moline, Il. also gained a first contract with UE.
In addition, several established locals reported that they took the
initiative by teaching the boss how to best run the workplace. Facing a closing of their
Milwaukee plant due to managements inability to find orders, Local 1172 found the
work needed to keep Steeltech in operation, reported Brian Childs.
"The troops are ready," Childs said, referring to members
preparedness not only to defend their rights and improve their condition but to be leaders
in keeping their jobs in their community.
A few locals, like Local 1128 in Sioux Falls, S.D., reported that Schwartz
Manufacturing workers may face layoffs as a result of the Asian economic crisis; the
company recently lost a contract with a hard-hit South Korean firm.
Locals facing or in the midst of layoffs committed themselves to
protecting their members and their communities by enforcing seniority rights won through
hard-fought contract struggles.
In remarks that paralleled delegates reports, Dir. of Org. Bob
Kingsley laid out four areas on which to focus the unions energies: Organizing the
unorganized, fighting for its members, building international solidarity and making its
presence felt on the political front.
Delegates learned how to develop political power by building the Labor
Party. "We build the party the same way we build this union," said Labor Party
organizer Ed Bruno. "We talk to people." His presentation resulted in a lively
discussion about how to educate fellow UE members about the Labor Party.
Several delegates who had participated in organizing schools in Iowa and
Milwaukee during the spring declared their intention to go out and utilize their recently
acquired knowledge and skills, to talk to non-union workers in their hometowns and build