Repower America – Friday, July 24, 2015
As recent natural and man-made disasters have shown, it is time to repower America. Our nation’s utilities, be it water, wastewater, gas, electric, or nuclear, are not up to the task of meeting today’s needs. As Utility Workers, we know how much power is wasted in keeping our antiquated systems running. As first responders, we experience the effects of a system that focuses on quarterly returns, rather than long-term gains.
A homeowner purchasing an electrical generator to keep the lights on is not an energy policy. It’s time for policymakers and the utility industry to join with the American people to pass legislation that will set a course toward repowering our nation. In order to achieve that goal, we – utility workers and the American people – need to empower ourselves and hold those who represent us at the local, state, and national levels accountable.
Videos Greetings from Democratic Candidates
Governor Martin O’Malley
Congresswoman Hillary Clinton
Senator Bernie Sanders
Guest Speaker: Larry Cohen, Bernie Sanders Campaign
Former President of the Communications Workers of America Larry Cohen spoke about his new role representing the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign as a volunteer. As an activist, he also fought against Fast Track and a new breed of trade deals which threaten to send our manufacturing jobs overseas to countries like Vietnam, where the average wage is 75 cents per hour and workers have no rights.
“In order to achieve our own goals… it has to be linked to the communities that we serve,” noted Cohen. To build a movement that can win, the public has to see it as more than just a labor movement. We must consider that only 1 out of every 8 public workers even has collective bargaining in America. When we look at the private sector, the statistics are even more dire with only 1 out of every 16 workers benefiting.
It was easy to see Cohen’s passion as he spoke about the campaign trail. “Bernie Sanders stood with working people for 50 years, not with his mouth but with his feet,” said Cohen, referring to Sanders’ lifetime of involvement with and dedication to labor and its ideals. “When is it our turn? When do we get to elect people who absolutely believe and worked as working class people?” asked Cohen, appearing confident that the time is now.
Play the video below to hear Larry Cohen’s speech:
Testimonials: Retirees Club
As a former utility worker at Con Edison and a union member for 50 years, recently retired Harry Farrell spoke frankly about the opportunities waiting to be tapped for retired members. Con Edison alone has over 15,000 retirees who owe their success in part to the unions which enabled them to earn a retirement in the first place.
Many retirees still want to be involved in the labor movement, but locals need to reach out and involve them in community organization efforts. “Get a list of retirees, make phone calls. Visit a retiree,” he suggested. “We care. If we didn’t care about people, we wouldn’t be here.” He said every union meeting should have a full house with rank and file members working alongside retirees.
“They want to take everything we have away,” warned Farrell, speaking about the political challenges facing us in 2016. “Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.” Farrell himself paid into Social Security for 50 years and says it is not an entitlement. These benefits have been hard earned, not handed out, and we need to fight to protect them. “This fight is not over,” he said amidst applause; “this fight has just begun.”
Play the video below to hear Harry Farrell’s speech:
Young Workers Initiative Committee Presentation
Eric Hofmann from UWUA Local 132 introduced the Young Workers Initiative Committee (YWIC) panel: Sharon Griffith from Local 1-2, Jessica Evans, Local 132, and Steve Lucero, Local 132. The group started off by presenting a plaque to Reggie Davis for all his help and paving the path for the YWIC.
A goal for the YWIC is to change the negative perception that unions are hurting America, a perception that big corporations and greedy politicians have set. In reality, it is the fault of big corporations and politicians that the working people cannot have the American dream.
The YWIC has three things they focus on: the member-to-member program to engage the conversation and educate members, the change of political landscape, and the change of public perception through charitable contributions and community partnership.
This day’s presentation expanded on the charitable contributions and community partnership, with examples and impact statements. Locals that have engaged in charitable contributions and partnered with the community recently include: UWUA Locals 1-2, 270, G555, 18007, 175, 132, 107. All these heartwarming stories included food drives, clothing drives, making pasta for those who are hungry, doing yard work for the elderly, creating charitable events for those in need, and much more. Many food banks had partnered with these locals to help give back to the community.
YWIC explained they are proud and energized to help the community. They want everyone to get involved. “We will be relentless in our efforts to not only guide the labor movement but, hopefully, and ultimately lead it… who better than us?”
Play the video below to hear the YWIC Presentation:
Guest Speaker: Melissa Regan, Film-Maker
Sundance award-winning filmmaker Melissa Regan took the stage to share her news about her upcoming documentary, “Nuns on the Bus.” This treacherous and heartwarming journey challenges our notions of religion and politics, the role of government, women and power, our own faith, and our sense of ourselves as a nation.
The film is an intimate story of one woman’s courage and leadership, and the birth of a new movement to re-energize faith and values in everyday people as a powerful personal force for justice, compassion and community.
This film will serve as a springboard to inspire each of us to find our own voice and stand up to make a difference. Visit: http://www.nunsonthebusmovie.com/ to learn more.
Video: Nuns On The Bus
Guest Speaker: Fred Myers, Executive Director/CEO, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance
Fred Myers, CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), spoke about the perks of being with USA and what it means that UWUA is the newest charter union to join USA.
Meyers outlined that USA is about conserving the outdoors and is for those who like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and more outdoor activities. For the union joining, it means that any members in the UWUA can join at no cost. The USA organization “holds the same principles that make unions great in this country.”
Meyers explained how they support unions through powerful multimedia platforms. One of which includes “Brotherhood Outdoors,” the only union sponsored network that brings a positive image of unions and the labor movement.
“Work Boots on The Ground” lets USA members and union members help to raise money and volunteer for conservation programs. USA engages members to renew, rebuild, and restore the parks. UWUA has already helped in conservation programs.
Play the video below to hear Fred Myer’s speech:
Video: Union With Solutions
Guest Speaker: David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Investigative Journalist
David Cay Johnston, investigative journalist and author of The Fine Print – How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind, talked about economics, minimum wage, tax cuts, and more. He started off with the minimum wage movement and states a way to improve it even more is to get rid of the Herman Cain law that sets restaurant wages at only $2.13 plus tips.
Some shocking statistics Johnston shared are that between 2009 and 2012, 10% of the increased income went to less than 1,400 households in the entire country. 21% of it went to 14,000 households. 62% of it went to the 1%. Johnston wants everyone to educate the public on the problems going on in America involving money for the 90%. Educate them on the unfair reasons the uber-rich get tax cuts when they really don’t need it, and how Bush’s tax cut caused a lot of damage.
Johnston explained his “1 inch, 5 miles” comparison. By 2011 the bottom 90% was ahead by 59 dollars compared to 1966. He does a comparison on 90% to 1% then the top 1% of the 1% using distance to represent the difference and the statistics are shocking. “If you don’t believe in unions then you don’t believe in marketing economics,” stated Johnston.
“This country was founded with 6 noble purposes. Those noble purposes establish justice, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. We need to recognize that we didn’t create this country to make the rich richer. We want every American to be better off because government policy helps.”
Play the video below to hear David Cay Johnston’s speech:
Guest Speaker: Scott Strauss, Regulatory Attorney
Scott Strauss, a utility lawyer who has dedicated his three-decade career to protecting the interest of consumers, spoke mainly of infrastructure. Not just physical infrastructure but human infrastructure. “Infrastructure is only going to become more important.” Strauss said, severe weather affects these systems a lot and need to be made more resilient. “System resilience is more than wire and poles; resiliency depends on having enough skilled, well-trained and experienced utility workers.”
Strauss outlined the importance of going to these conventions and proceedings, and told his stories of accomplishments and the steps to get there that he has made by going to proceedings. Another important problem, he stated is the lack of employees, making it difficult on customers and workers. He wants to fight to improve infrastructure – both system and human, while helping to ensure the quality and reliability of utility services.
Play the video below to hear Scott Strauss’s speech:
Resolutions, Committee Reports and Amendments
After completing many hours of preliminary planning, the UWUA 30th Constitutional Convention committee members made their reports on their findings and input from the delegation on each of their topics during this day’s convention. Each resolution was also brought to the table so that delegates could share their experiences and accumulated knowledge to vote on the resolutions listed below. Many members took the microphone to express why each resolution was so important, and how it affected their lives everyday at work and in society. Each of these resolutions were designed to increase UWUA’s ability to fight for the members, improve lives, and move UWUA forward to be better able to face the challenges of the future.
Resolutions Proposed and Accepted on July 24, 2015:
- Resolution #R-17: Strengthening Civil And Human Rights
- Resolution #R-18: Equality And Corporate Responsibility
- Resolution #R-19: Campaign Finance Reform
- Resolution #R-20: Clean Coal and Good Jobs
- Resolution #R-21: Nuclear Energy
- Resolution #R-22: Grid Reliability and a Secure And Just Transition
- Resolution #R-23: Seizing Our Retirements
- Resolution #R-24: Mobilizing UWUA Retirees
- See All 2015 Resolutions