James Slevin, National President

This year has been one of the toughest years for us as individuals, as an organization, and as a country. The very fabric of our lives has been torn apart.

Through it all, as Utility Workers, we continue to strive to be the best that we can be. We are moving forward, and will emerge from the multiple crises we face in a better place in 2021 and beyond.

We lost several members to COVID-19, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and co-workers. We are very fortunate to continue delivering life-giving, life-sustaining, utility services to the communities we serve in these trying times, while providing middle-class livelihoods for our families.

Doing what we do best

Despite the natural and man-made disasters we encountered this year, the UWUA continues to deliver for our members the things that make our union successful.

We negotiated numerous collective bargaining agreements with wage increases, health and pension benefits, and improved safety provisions. While we initially met with employer resistance to pandemic response planning and providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to our members, utilities were forced to face the fact that we need to be protected, as do the customers we serve.

It was a turbulent year. Between the protests over racial injustice and the politics of a presidential election, we kept our sights on our role as utility workers and did everything possible to make sure our members returned home to their loved ones safely at the end of the day.

I’m proud of what our members accomplished in the past year, but our work is far from over. I’m looking forward to even greater achievements in 2021.

Strength through unity

We’ve faced many challenges in our lifetime. The coronavirus is one of the most challenging. Undoubtedly, there will be a COVID-19 vaccination soon. Hopefully, this will allow us to return to some degree of normalcy. But we are living in a transformative time and will never go back to exactly the way things were.

Unity will be my focus in the coming year. We may have our differences, but we have a common thread running through our hearts and minds that knits us together as UWUA members. We have more in common than we have differences. Our similarities bring us together; our differences allow us to be divided. Let’s focus on our similarities, not our differences.

Let’s actively listen to each other so we can unite behind a common agenda to rebuild our nation and emerge from the pandemic in a better place.

Investing in the future

There is bipartisan support for major investment in the nation’s utility infrastructure. We are at the table with industry and policymakers, knowing our members are well equipped to benefit from infrastructure investment.

Continuing to build on a number of successful programs to support our members puts the UWUA at an advantage looking ahead. These include, among others: our National Health and Safety Committee, which has demonstrated the power union members have to ensure the safety of workers and their communities; the Power for America Training Trust, which continues to train thousands of incumbent and future members; and the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP), which connects veterans with lifelong careers in the utility industry.

In 2021 we will make sure that when there are conversations on climate issues, the workers who provided power to generations of Americans are not forgotten. We recognize our members employed in industries experiencing rapid change as energy veterans. They cannot be forgotten. A truly just transition will ensure that our energy veterans are recognized for their contributions to our society. We don’t forget our service men and women and we will not neglect our energy veterans.

As this year comes to a close, let’s reflect on what experience has taught us and be proud to be Utility Workers.

Have a safe, healthy holiday season, and Happy New Year!