District 1 Elects Officers,
Delegates to the UE District One convention here Oct. 26 re-elected their district leadership, made plans for
rank-and-file delegations to visit several state capitols in the coming year, and heard reports on struggles in the wide variety of
workplaces within the district.
Connie Spinozzi was re-elected president, along with Bob Miller, vice president, Barbara Prear,
recording secretary, Tim McCambridge, financial secretary, Joe Miglino, treasurer, Lester Koch, political education
director, Tom Dininny, sergeant-at-arms, and William Newsome, Kevin Elmquist and Mike Trout, trustees.
In building a statewide union of public employees in North Carolina, the focus has been on educating state workers about
the union and working with people who want change, said Raymond Sanders. The president-elect of UE Local 150, Sanders said UE has
made a big change in North Carolina, but still faces big challenges.
Among the challenges are those in the University of North Carolina system. Barbara Prear said Local 150 members on UNC
campuses are attempting to reorganize in the face of management intimidation and racism. In this so-called "right-to-work"
state, the major struggle continues to be for collective bargaining, said William Newsome.
Local 160 is organizing among Virginia state employees. Allen Layman, from Western State Hospital, said Local 160
members face severe budget cuts statewide, and the possibility of major layoffs, privatization and unpaid furloughs. At the College of
William and Mary, said Selma Blair, the union has achieved recognition for its activities. Inadequate wages continue to be a major
issue, now joined by the layoff danger, she said.
ORGANIZE & REORGANIZE
In comments that rang true for many delegates, Tim McCambridge, Local 123, emphasized the need to reorganize the
organized while continuing to organize the unorganized. He said it’s particularly important for young people coming into the union’s
ranks to be educated about workers’ rights and labor history.
Mike Trout, Local 111, reported that his local has had success in settling grievances and in reducing members’ workloads
at Gardner Cryogenics. Bob Miller told delegates of struggles waged by members of amalgamated Local 155 — including wage increases in
new contracts. Tom Dininny said Local 329 members at Kennedy Valve protected and expanded their workplace protections in bargaining. Earl
Tyson, Local 120, reminded the convention that we cannot allow the employer to force some members to give up hard-won benefits, as
this can only result in a weakened union.
Delegates twice observed a moment of silence: for the loss experienced by families in Baltimore as a result of the sniper
shootings, at the request of Laverne McGill, Local 120; and in memory of Sen. Paul Wellstone and Tony Mazzocchi, at the request of
Townsend, the union’s political action director, proposed that if Democrats campaigned against big business, they could
win big on Nov. 5, but if they act like Republicans, people won’t vote.
Representing the national officers, Townsend gave an overview of the union’s finances and led a discussion on the
proposal for a progressive dues structure raised at the national convention in September.
Intl. Rep. Saladin Muhammad gave delegates a perspective on the organizational work underway in North Carolina and
Virginia, while Intl. Rep. Harry Authelet reported on current organizing in New Jersey and raised the importance of strengthening
existing locals in eastern Pennsylvania through membership education.
Field Org. Jim Ermi presented a workshop on grievance-handling. He reviewed the key principles of UE’s
philosophy, the necessity of investigating grievances, and the investigation process. Small groups discussed approaches to arguing
grievances. Attorney Michael DiGenova, whose Philadelphia law firm is on retainer with the district, provided an overview of
workers’ compensation laws.