PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – United We Stand, Divided We Fall!

James Slevin, National President

A lot of people are hurting in our country today. The pandemic has revealed weaknesses that need to be addressed if we are to move forward as a nation.

We have our differences but we all have shared values and common goals: economic security, a safe place to live, a good education, and affordable quality health care, among them. Everybody wants a better tomorrow for their family, friends and community.

It’s union time!

We can have all these things if we are united in demanding them and work together to achieve them. Now is the time for people who have been sitting on the sidelines to get engaged, and the best way to do so is through your union.

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UWUA on April 6, 1946, I ask each and every one of you to recommit yourself to the ideals of our founders as expressed in our Constitution.

Let’s listen to each other, and agree to disagree if need be, but I know we can all unite to achieve the goals of our founders. It’s union time!

Support the right to peaceful protest

I have received correspondence from members who want to know why I condemned the siege of the Capitol but did not denounce the violence this past summer.

I want to thank those who took the time to reach out to me about this. Even though I don’t agree that there is a correlation between these two events, I do respect their viewpoint and appreciate them for expressing it.

I will tell you that I denounce ALL violence. I believe everyone has the right to peacefully protest and, as a labor leader, I have done so many times. I also believe that no one has the right to cause anyone physical harm or destroy property. This takes away from the goals of protestors, whoever they might be. It distorts their message and is used against them.

I do not believe the protests over the summer can be compared with what happened on January 6. People who decided to attack the pillars of our democracy should not be compared to those who took to the streets to demand that everyone be treated equally, with dignity and respect. It’s unfortunate and counterproductive that some did so in a violent manner.

Defend our democracy

The protests this past summer were against structural and institutional racism, which need to be addressed at every level for our democracy to thrive.

What we saw on January 6, were people who didn’t agree with the outcome of the national election. While I respect and appreciate everyone’s viewpoint, I do take issue with those who wish to take away our democracy in a violent manner.

At the root of the January 6 insurrection is white supremacy, which, by definition, is undemocratic.

I feel that as members of the Utility Workers Union of America, we need to be respectful of each other and united in our goals. And I ask every member to recommit himself or herself to what is quoted in the preamble of the UWUA Constitution.

“The Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO is an organization of members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and by an understanding of the necessity and value of the services we provide to the public for their health and wellbeing. We are dedicated to improving the lives of our members and their families and to enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

“We are an organization of men and women of every race, religion, age, and ethnicity, who are committed to a society where all workers and their families live and work with dignity; where there is an economic and political mandate for a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth for all those performing useful service to society; where workers have a collective voice and power at the workplace; where economic well being is achieved for our members and all workers; where work is satisfying and fairly rewarded.”

As your president, I will do everything in my power to carry this message forward for generations yet unborn to benefit from.