National Vice President’s Report, Fall 2015

The 2016 Regional Conferences: Back To Basics

John Duffy, UWUA National Vice President
John Duffy
UWUA National Vice President

Employer aggression towards employees is certainly nothing new. Corporations exist for one thing and one thing only, profit. But in a true democracy, those we elect to public office have a duty to represent the citizens who elect them. As we all know, that is not what is happening now. Corporate America has hijacked our democracy and is using government as an extension of their reach to push down wages, benefits and working conditions to increase profits.

Corporations now have a stranglehold over our elected public officials. The concentration of wealth within one percent of the population — the ownership, or corporate class — is resulting in the demise of our democracy and the American way of life. The Supreme Court 2010 ruling that corporations are people gave them the right to spend unlimited sums of money in the electoral process. Through their Super PACs, corporations have tightened that stranglehold anonymously.

Arming locals with tools to win

The end result is elected officials violating their oath of office and using the full force of their office to repeal and restrict the rights of the working class. This means that, for working people, the fight to maintain and improve our livelihoods has moved beyond the bargaining table and into state houses and our nation’s capital.

uwuamag_fall2015_national-vice-president-quoteAfter the 2010 mid-term elections, it was essential to focus our regional conferences on the results of those elections. The vicious anti-union agenda spoon-fed to those newly elected politicians by their corporate bosses, and the importance of all our members to fight back through political activism, was the central theme through the 2012 and 2014 conferences.

Political activism will always be an essential part of what we do as trade unionists, and union activism in the workplace remains just as essential. With corporations now becoming puppet-masters of elected officials, their aggression in the workplace has only intensified. And, while political education will continue to be a part of our regional conferences, the upcoming 2016 conferences will focus primarily on arming our locals with the tools they need to deal with this increased employer aggression.

Those tools include: collective bargaining, grievance handling, arbitration, corporate campaigns, internal organizing, time management, community involvement and alliances, as well as financial training. The agenda and workshops are currently being developed and will include these tools. Members attending these conferences will go back to their workplaces better equipped to take on the daily challenges that sometimes can seem insurmountable.

Conferences will be on Thurs. – Sat.

All 2016 regional conferences will be scheduled from Thursday through Saturday, eliminating reimbursement for lost time for the final day of the conference. This cost savings will allow each local union to send additional members by reducing the cost for lost time reimbursement by one-third.

In the past, only Regions Four and Five ran through Saturday. Now, all local unions will have the opportunity to send additional members due to this cost savings. We will also be going back to combining Regions Two and Three into one conference. This will make for a better attended and more dynamic conference.

The dates and locations for the 2016 Regional Conferences are as follows:

Region 1 Conference May 12-14 Rhode Island *
Region 2&3 Conference June 9-11 Cleveland, Ohio *
Region 4 Conference August 18-20 Chicago, Illinois *
Region 5 Conference April 28-30 Long Beach, California *

*Exact Location to be determined

It is imperative for local unions to maximize their ability to defend and improve the livelihoods of our members by sending as many members as possible to these educational conferences. Together we can accomplish anything!