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For Immediate Release
August 29, 1999


For More Information Contact:
Peter Gilmore, 802-658-6788
Kimberly Lawson, 802-658-6788

No Endorsement Expected from
Independent-Minded Delegates
To Independent United Electrical
Workers’ Union Convention

BURLINGTON, VT — No early endorsement of a presidential candidate is expected from the resolutely independent United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) at its national convention in Burlington, Vt. August 29-September 2. A prominent backer of the Labor Party, UE twice refused Bill Clinton an outright endorsement.

Nearly 200 delegates will determine the policies and elect the national officers of UE, which prides itself on its grassroots democracy, "them vs. us" militancy and progressive politics. A hallmark of that democracy is the union’s annual convention, which sets the top officers’ salaries in line with the wages received by the members.

The union’s organizing strategy will be a major focus of discussion. In recent years UE has enjoyed growth through organizing in the public and non-profit sectors, particularly in educational institutions. UE recently reached a first collective bargaining agreement with the University of Vermont.

Delegates will be welcomed to Burlington by U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders (I), a former mayor. Mayor Pete Clavelle will cut the ribbon on a UE-backed Workers’ Rights Center in City Hall; staffed by volunteers, the center will assist workers with job-related complaints or questions. On Monday, August 30, delegates will pour out of the Radisson Hotel for a march to City Hall for a worker’s rights rally and the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Delegates will participate in workshops and hear remarks from union leaders from Japan, Mexico and Quebec. Bill Fletcher, assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO, will also address delegates.

Returning to Burlington for the second time in the 1990’s UE is the only union to have ever brought its national convention to Vermont’s Queen City. In addition to the AIDS counselors, Head Start workers and university maintenance workers that UE represents in Vermont today, the union also has deep roots in the state’s machine tool industry. The union’s independent-thinking is mirrored in its Vermont locals’ enthusiastic support for Sanders, Vermont’s independent Member of Congress.


UE News - 08/99

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