District 7: This
Is a Great Union
With a Big Job
Delegates attending the District Seven Council meeting here June 27-28
conducted wide-ranging discussions about union education, organizing, political action and
"You are in a great union with a big job to do," Pres. Joyce
Clayborne told delegates. Recognizing that the difficulties of union responsibilities can
lead to frustration and burnout," Clayborne advised, "Some of the things that
will ease the work of local leaders can be achieved through education of the members about
"I firmly believe that locals should have some piece of education on
their monthly meeting agenda," Sister Clayborne said. "That education should not
only concentrate on the achievements of UE as a national union, but also on the
achievements of the local."
With its five-year plan UE is calling on the membership to step forward
and lead the way in a number of areas, including organizing, the district president said.
The five-year plan guarantees a future for a very special union, a top
officer said. Genl. Pres. John Hovis pointed out that UE is the largest independent
industrial union, the only rank-and-file, democratic national union, the only national
union with officers who live like the members. UE-negotiated wage increases tend to be
higher than the national average; the UE steward system provides effective representative
on the shop floor.
Believing that this a union worth maintaining, the officers, General
Executive Board and National Convention approved the five-year plan; the officers and
board recently reviewed and adjusted the plan to keep the union on track, Hovis said. UE
has been successful in organizing, he said, but not successful enough.
More members should become involved in organizing; its every
members obligation to help build UE, said Ed Havaich, Local 751. A graduate of the
recent rank-and-file Organizing School, Havaich said his experience had been positive and
uplifting. Another graduate, Bill Callahan, Local 751, said his local has been actively
working to build the union in the Youngstown area.
Within weeks of adopting a plan and goal of signing up six District Seven
locals in the Labor Party, five have affiliated with the party and others are giving that
step serious consideration, Pres. Clayborne said. "With a little effort we can get
more locals to join," she added.
Reinforcing the significance of the Labor Party, a workshop led by Intl.
Rep. Steve Tormey stressed the need for a political party with a working-class agenda to
represent the working class.
Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee,
delivered a stirring message of the potential for organizing and working-class progress.
He recounted for delegates the inspiring story of how farm workers in Ohio battled with
the Campbell Soup Co. for years before obtaining a master contract.
Leading a workshop on arbitration, Field Org. Al Hart reminded delegates
that UE is fundamentally opposed to arbitration and so the purpose of the workshop
was not to encourage more use of arbitration but rather to help locals when arbitration