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Lots to Consider
For District 6 Leaders


At the District 6 Council Meeting ...

Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark

Above: Local 506 delegates Matt McCracken, Dennis Crawford and Dennis McLaughlin listen to District 6 Council discussion. At left: Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark

Delegates to the District Six Council here Oct. 21-22 had much to say about collective bargaining (mostly successful), shop conditions (mostly busy) and political action (also busy), and heard reports about organizing (lots to do) and the elections (oh, brother!).

"It’s no secret these are difficult times but we can still grow with organizing and the opportunity is there," declared District Six Pres. John Lambiase. "If we are going to be successful and prevail on certain campaigns, then we need to be many thousands strong and organized."

In the year concluding with the 2000 UE Convention, said Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark, UE organized nearly 2,000 workers. The union has hope and vision and potential to match, he said.

The national officer noted that UE has run a planned deficit for a number of years to subsidize organizing, with important results. In District 11, more than half the present locals came into the union in the 1990s as a result of this policy. The second-largest local in the union was one of them, he noted.

Nevertheless, the National union is taking a number of steps to aggressively bring finances under tighter control, Clark said. In addition to the cost-saving measures he’s instituted, Clark told the council, the special committee on finances convened by the union’s General Executive Board will help identify other steps.

As a whole, unions are in trouble because of their unwillingness to change, Clark proposed. He pointed to the Labor Party as one example of where unions could work to build a real political voice for working people.


A number of delegates rose to give shop reports, detailing a wide range of conditions and grievances. Most reported steady work; some said owners are investing in new equipment and hiring. The new technology has had an odd result at Bruce Plastics, said the Local 689 delegates — the company fired three supervisors and installed spy cams. In an unusual twist, Local 611 delegates reported that the president of Newell Porcelain complimented Intl. Rep. Marion Washington for having enough foresight to insist on a raise for laborers in the contract extension negotiated last year, as it is helping to attract good employees.

Among those giving reports were Local 684 delegates who were still struggling for a first contract with The Electric Materials Co. (TEMCO).

Local 683 Pres. Charles Tangle reported on his trip to Mexico, as part of a worker-to-worker exchange sponsored by UE and Mexico’s Authentic Labor Front (FAT). He found different approaches to resolving labor disputes — as in the case of striking glass workers who took over operation of the plant on a cooperative basis.

Carol Lambiase, UE Education Director, led a workshop on the "team concept," highlighting new management techniques.


With the elections then a little more than two weeks away, the union’s political action director, Chris Townsend, and delegates had a lot to say about political action. Townsend pointed out that the presidential debates often found the candidates in agreement — too often. "Corporate power over our lives is the problem," he said. Involvement in the political process — and support for candidates like Nader, and progressive Democrats — is critical to our future.

John Thompson, district political action co-chairperson, reviewed the races in western Pennsylvania of critical importance to UE members. He wondered why the National Rifle Association was throwing money into the campaign of conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, even though his Democratic challenger, Rep. Ron Klink, is an active sportsman and gun-owner and proponent of the right to bear arms.


Mel Womack, attending his first district council meeting since his Jan. 1, 1992 retirement, shared with delegates personal and union history. He came out of the shop (Switch and Signal) and onto the staff at a time when UE faced raids from the IUE as well as the challenge of rebuilding after the disastrous split of 1949. Originally UE represented virtually all workers in electrical manufacturing, including those employed by General Electric and Westinghouse. "I had to realize that the IUE was born out of the needs of the company and the UE was born out of the needs of the workers. You can believe what I tell you because I have experienced it," Womack said.

"We have to organize and build this union together like in the old days. You need to put organizing on your locals’ agendas, and do it!" the veteran organizer exhorted.

Elected as district officers were John Lambiase, president; Walter Franke, vice president; David Adams, financial secretary; Mary Ice, recording secretary; Pat Rafferty, Craig Holmes, Don Kosobucki and Mary Stewart (alternate), trustees; Dave Kitchen, Lynda Leech, Scott Buterbaugh, James Tew, Gary Zobrist, Gretchen Kelly, Bryan Rice, Charles Tangle and Scott Allison, executive board; Joe Maruco, sergeant-at-arms; Donna Cramer and John Thompson political action co-chairpersons.

UE News - 12/00

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