Welcome to 2016, a new year with new opportunities. At the Utility Workers Union of America’s 30th convention, we independently passed a number of resolutions that will guide our organization through the next four years. All of these resolutions can be found on our app – available for free from the app store on your smart phone – and website – www.uwua.net.
Our resolution and out theme are the guiding principles and objectives of our organization, with our theme prominently place throughout the convention and prints on every constitution book.
Our theme: Reclaim, Retrain, Repower, Repair America!
Interestingly, many of our resolutions are gaining traction in American politics as Presidential Primary candidates discuss the future of America from the need to rebuild our infrastructure to ensuring the voting rights of all Americans. There is also major discussion and focus on retraining America and educating our youth.
Retraining is a major objective of your UWUA national officers. We are actively meeting with local union leaders, employers, and others in our industry to share and promote ideas that will train the current and next generation of utility workers, including capturing new opportunities with our employers through programs like our Power for America Training Trust (P4A).
However, just as importantly, we realize the need to retrain within our organization. We have many new labor leaders throughout the UWUA. We have many new local presidents, treasurers, representatives, and shop stewards. There is no one size fits all training for these new leaders. In fact, many will learn simply the old fashioned way: on the job training (OJT). Our goal is to provide these new leaders with the tools they need to be successful in their respective roles and responsibilities. A step towards that goal includes a back to the basics platform at our 2016 regional conferences.
While we are still finalizing the agenda for the regional conferences, we will have financial training for all attendees that addresses best practices, as well as reporting and compliance requirements. We will have breakout sessions on representation, contract negotiations and contract costing. At the convention, we discussed the advantage of previous union leaders reaching out, mentoring, and sharing their knowledge. We hope to foster that same approach and build bridges for our rising union leaders.
While we build the bridge for new utility workers and our upcoming leadership, we recognize that there is a generational and technological change in how we learn and communicate. We as Utility Workers recognize that change is inevitable and can be quite an opportunity for improvement. Change and opportunity must also embrace inclusion and communication. We are implementing many new technological changes in our administration and activities. However, communications is a topic that we like to hear from you: the membership.
Specifically, we would like to know how you receive or research information from your local or the National Union. This is the era of social media, which has its own pros and cons. Some of our members really like to utilize this forum while others abhor the thought of exposing themselves to this media.
Do you prefer communications via email, mass texting, Facebook, etc.? Do you find the National’s website informative? Is it user friendly? We are reevaluating the use of The Utility Worker magazine. Do you believe that The Utility Worker magazine is useful? Do you read it? Is it effective? Do you have suggestions to improve it? Or, do you believe that we should vacate the use of the magazine entirely?
Let us know what you think
Please know that all communication vehicles have a cost and it is our responsibility to maximize the best media outlet in the most cost effective manner. We are working with our Executive Board, several committees, and media vendors to find and implement the best communication outlet(s).
Utility workers and working Americans will face many challenges and opportunities this year. Many of our members will face the expiration of their respective collective bargaining agreements (CBA) and the experience of uncertainty and angst that goes with contract negotiations. Additionally, many other battles will be fought to preserve the hard fought working conditions and collective bargaining rights that we embrace. Communication and member-to-member interaction is vital. Please feel free to offer your suggestions or ideas to your local or national leadership.