Water Workers Choose UWUA, Rack Up Victories!

Water Workers Choose UWUA, Rack Up Victories!

Unorganized Water and wastewater workers are seeing the benefits of UWUA membership as shown by the growing number of organizing and first contract victories in water utilities.

The UWUA Organizing Department is always on the lookout for opportunities to bring new members into the union through organizing campaigns, neutrality/card check agreements, internal organizing drives, and other innovative campaign strategies.

Sanexen Water workers organize and win first contract!

“We had enough of management’s promises and not having things in writing,” said Shawn Smith with Sanexen Water about why he and his co-workers recently joined the UWUA.

It took some time to organize, and the company stonewalled throughout negotiations, but, he says, “Now we have a contract, an agreement on paper that is enforceable and cannot be messed with.” The Sanexen workers are now members of Local 609 and Smith is their chief steward.

He and his 25 co-workers install Aqua-Pipe structural liner across the United States for Sanexen, a Canadian-owned American company specializing in the trenchless rehabilitation of drinking water mains. The UWUA has the exclusive collective bargaining rights to represent Sanexen workers nationally. The replacement or rehabilitation of water pipes is high on the list of the country’s infrastructure needs.

So far this year, Smith and his crew have worked in Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, with New York on the list of states before the end of the year.

“I love being a UWUA member,” Smith says, “the brotherhood, the backing from the national union, and the power that comes with it.”

NJ Suez Water workers stay strong, win big!

Local 503 President Shawn Galbreath, working with UWUA National Organizing Director Bob Houser and Sr. National Rep. Shawn Garvey, recently organized and won a first contract for seven new members working at Suez Water’s Matchaponix shop in New Jersey.

Negotiations were very tough as Local 503 battled Suez Water for almost nine months before securing a first contract for these new members. In the end, Suez agreed to a five-year contract with wage increases of 2.75 percent, 2.75 percent, 2.75 percent, 3.00 percent, and 3.00 percent. In addition to other improvements, members won wage adjustments resulting in new members receiving between $2.50 – $3.75 per hour increases starting on the date the contract was ratified.

The organizing and first contract victory grew from the outreach Galbreath did with the Matchaponix workers, who are also part of Suez’s Mid-Atlantic region. “Anytime I talk to someone in this industry I ask if they are organized,” he explains. “My message to my UWUA brothers and sisters is, ‘Stay strong. Don’t give up. And organize anywhere you can!’”