PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – Learning from History to Move Forward

James Slevin, National President

As we mark our 75th anniversary, I think it is important to go right to our beginnings, not just to celebrate our founders, but to learn from them as well.

In the beginning was the UWUA Constitution. It is our union’s bible. The preamble is as relevant today as it was when first written in 1946. We carry the vision of our founders with us through their words and deeds.

We live by the core beliefs of our founders

Time has changed our industries, our workplaces and our toolkits. Yet we still live by the core beliefs our founders expressed in the preamble. Belief in the power of a united membership, in the dignity and worth of workers, and the value of services we provide to the public.

It didn’t matter who was at the bargaining table back then, and who is at the table today, those beliefs guide us and propel us forward. We’ve built and maintained water, gas and electric utility systems that were as simple as getting those life-giving, life-saving services to individual households. We’ve done the same for residents and businesses of today’s megalopolis.

John Slevin, center, at work in New York City in the 1970s.

Through it all, we’ve carried our core beliefs. We’ve made sure that we continue to serve the public and we take pride in doing so. More than three generations of utility workers have shown their worth.

If the mission as expressed by our founders wasn’t there, I don’t know where we would be as an industry and as a society today. We work with companies to do the right thing and hold them accountable when they do not.

As utility workers, we don’t get that “thank you” all the time. And, while it’s nice to be thanked, we get up, go to work, and do what we do to keep our country going.

Our union contract embeds dignity, respect and the worth of work in our workplaces. We have to give credit to our members and the UWUA for doing that for more than 75 years.

My father was a utility worker. He passed on to me the pride that comes with doing this work and the importance of working together, as union members, to protect our legacy and build our future.

I read the UWUA constitution a lot, to stay fresh and true to our founders’ ideals. I encourage you to do so as well.

UWUA Constitution Preamble

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.