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District 1 Hears
Report From
Locke Picket Line

WILKES-BARRE, Pa.

District 1 President Connie Spinozzi

Delegates re-elected District 1 President Connie Spinozzi

Tom Dininny and Sabato Deprimo

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 Elmira, N.Y.

Barry Rideout and Craig Turner

Barry Rideout introduces his local president, Craig Turner, for remarks on the Local 120 struggle at Locke Insulators.

We banded together, and said enough is enough," Local 120 Pres. Craig Turner told District One’s 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 district’s 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 company’s 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 union’s early days, building UE without the benefit of paid staff. "This tells the tale of how powerful we can be," she said.

"We can’t 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 state’s lack of union rights for public-sector workers.

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 120’s 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 labor movement.

‘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 Hitler’s 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 404).

UE News - 11/98


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