District 1 Hears
Locke Picket Line
District 1 President Connie Spinozzi
Long-time Local 329
Pres. Tom Dininny reacts to the surprise presentation of plaque from co-worker Sabato
Deprimo, thanking him for his dedication to the interests of workers at Kennedy Valve in
introduces his local president, Craig Turner, for remarks on the Local 120 struggle at
We banded together, and said enough is enough," Local 120 Pres. Craig Turner
told District Ones annual convention here on Oct. 17. Direct from their picket line
in Baltimore, leaders of the Locke Insulators local union described a membership united in
its determination to gain a decent contract and enforce respect on the job.
Delegates re-elected the districts officers. Reports of shop-floor struggle
combined in the deliberations of the District One Council with calls to organize the
unorganized, build a working-class political alternative and combat organized hate. And
delegates matched rhetoric with action, dipping into their own pockets to support workers
in need and workers in struggle.
Local 120 Pres. Turner said that in response to previous union cooperation, management
promised workers would be rewarded in the late 1990s. The companys inferior offer is
no reward, he said. "They thought we were going to give in once again."
Sam Omar of Local 155 recommended a generous collection for Local 120;
the fewer than 60 delegates present raised $375.
Locke workers "are putting up a fight for their survival," declared District
One Pres. Connie Spinozzi, who had met with both rank-and-file workers and top
management in recent weeks. "The company is testing the union," she said.
[Editor's Note: The Local 120 strike successfully concluded with membership
ratification of a tentative contract offer on November 13th. Full details will be
available in the December issue of the UE News Online.]
The Local 120 strike occurs as many other local unions in District One have concluded
bargaining, with some negotiations ongoing, with several more contracts coming due and
efforts underway to build newly chartered Local 150 among public-sector workers in North
Carolina, Pres. Spinozzi pointed out.
A CALL TO ORGANIZE
Despite such busy schedules, Spinozzi said, everyone in the union has a responsibility
to help organize the unorganized. "Organizing is the most important mission of the
labor movement," she said. The district president quoted a section from Them and
Us, describing how workers self-organized in the unions early days, building UE
without the benefit of paid staff. "This tells the tale of how powerful we can
be," she said.
"We cant be complacent," Spinozzi said, urging the local leaders
present to pledge to get involved, and "talk that talk," in discussions with
friends, relatives and unorganized workers in general.
Organizing was on the minds of Tim McCambridge, Local 123, and Don Cavalinni,
Local 150. McCambridge, who is stepping down as local president, said he plans to
assist UE staff in contacting unorganized workers in western Virginia. Local 150 is being
built by workers in North Carolina despite that states lack of union rights for
In other local reports, delegates reported on contracts and grievances successfully
concluded and ongoing shop-floor struggles. Delegates from Locals 111, 329 and 417
reported on their fights to defend injured and disabled workers from company attacks.
Local 120s strike against a Japanese-based multinational corporation fits into a
global pattern of bosses saying, "give us more," explained Intl. Rep. Carol
Lambiase, who led a discussion on corporate power and the global economy. We need a
political agenda that speaks to our needs, and that means the Labor Party, Lambiase said.
Delegates, who took "hands off Social Security" postcards for their
locals," spoke of the need for education on this issue, the danger of complacency and
the intoxication for some of playing the stock market. Speakers related the threat of
Social Security privatization to concessions in the workplace and other attacks on the
VOTE LIKE A WORKER
An avalanche of anti-worker bills and Social Security privatization are the real issues
in the November election, suggested Chris Townsend, UE political action director.
Big business is hoping that working people will be so turned off by the scandals in
Washington that they will either stay home on Election Day or vote against their own
interests, he said.
In most cases, union members will have no real choice but to vote for Democratic
candidates to prevent Republican control of Congress, Townsend said. "Vote smart,
vote like a worker on Election Day," he said. "And at the same time we are
making smart, practical choices, we have to build the Labor Party."
Pennsylvania in the late 1990s is reminiscent of Germany of 70 years ago prior to
Hitlers rise to power, said Mia Giunta of the Pennsylvania Network of Unity
Coalitions. The Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis are actively organizing in the Keystone State,
taking advantage of white anxieties about the economy and social change. She encouraged UE
locals to join with churches and grassroots organizations in unity coalitions that
challenge the message of hate groups; UE policy and the Labor Party agenda offer a vital
alternative, Giunta said.
Delegates re-elected Pres. Connie Spinozzi (Local 155); Vice Pres. Ray Spinozzi
(Local 155); Rec. Sec. Clarence "Butch" Pridgen (Local 120), Treas. Seretha
Taylor (Local 168); Fin. Sec. Barry Rideout (Local 120), Sergeant-at-Arms Tom Dininny
(Local 329) and Political and Education Dir. Dave Conroy (Local 121). Trustees
are Maken Dodge (Local 124), Tim McCambridge (Local 123) and Joe Miglino (Local