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District 11 Fights for Jobs,
Vows to Organize


In the shadow of the Mall of America on Oct. 20-21, UE District Council 11 delegates met to organize their fight against fast track trade promotion authority, defend public sector jobs, and build and strengthen their union. Delegates reported workplace struggles and political action taken since their last meeting in June.

Jennifer Yingling of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition reminded the council that "1994 brought us NAFTA, and since then we have lost half a million jobs by conservative estimates, our environmental protections of groundwater and air have been eroded and the number of Mexican people in poverty has increased by the millions."

Fast track will do more of the same, she warned. Trade promotion authority would allow the President to negotiate international trade agreements, limit Congressional approval to a yes or no vote without the right to change the agreement and give Congress only 90 days to review potentially thousands of pages of documents. The council considered how the Bush Administration and elements in Congress are using the September 11 attacks to push trade promotion authority.

Delegates took the time to review the Fast Track Fact Sheet and write members of Congress to vote "No!" Paul Spors, Local 1121, wrote to U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, urging him to vote "no" for the simple fact that both Paul’s wife and Ron’s sister lost their jobs when LaCrosse Shoe Co. closed and moved to China. Delegates planned on taking the battle against fast track to the shops with letter writing and phone calls to Congress in the weeks to come.


UE members in Wisconsin and Iowa are making preparations for statewide Political Action Days. In Iowa, delegates reported, union members are fighting to defend their jobs. Bill Austin, Local 893, observed that "shortfalls in state revenue and expensive tax cuts over the last few years have resulted in budget cuts that increase class sizes for UE members at the University of Iowa and mean layoffs of UE members providing vital services to Iowa residents."

Delegates attending the Political Action Day will demand that politicians stop sacrificing workers and start balancing the budget responsibly.

UE leaders throughout the district reported on the ongoing political work of visiting politicians, organizing and participating in Labor Day festivities. Mary McElroy, Local 893, reported on her participation in the joint women’s delegation of UE and Students United Against Sweatshops to Juarez. They visited maquiladora factories on the border, women’s centers, and neighborhoods where Mexican workers live in houses made out of wooden pallets and corrugated tin.

Delegates renewed their commitment to Jobs with Justice. District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen spoke to the ongoing support from JwJ UE members have received. He encouraged locals to join their local chapters or support formation of chapters where there are none currently. Jobs with Justice has been a key source of community pressure in the Local 1114 strike at Coach and Car that began last August, Rosen pointed out.


Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark explained the role of Regional Organizing Councils (ROCs) in building the union by organizing the unorganized. Delegates throughout the district expressed commitment to organize new members. The district’s first ROC will be initiated in the Milwaukee area. Delegates from Iowa reported on a renewed internal membership drive in that so-called right-to-work state.


Shop reports included many grievances won protecting workers and defending the gains achieved through previous struggles. Many shops reported layoffs, though a good number reported steady work. After hearing an update on the Local 1114 unfair labor practice strike at Coach and Car, delegates passed the hat to raise several hundred dollars in support of the brothers and sisters on the picket line.

Locals reported they have geared up the fight for decent affordable health insurance as their employers attempt to raise the costs. For months insurance companies have warned the public of their plans to raise premiums by huge amounts, while insurance executive salaries are on the rise. Pres. Carl Rosen noted that the latest trend in healthcare insurance is an effort to raise co-pays so high as to convince healthcare consumers not to get costly procedures done.

Delegates ended their October council meeting with the re-election of the four current District 11 officers: Pres. Rosen, Vice Pres. Shirley Harrison, Sec.-Treas. Bob Rudek and Southwest Area Coordinator Bill Austin. And delegates elected a full complement of 10 executive board members as well as three trustees and an alternate.

UE News - 11/01

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

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