Embrace This Moment

President, James Slevin

As we gathered in Las Vegas for the 32nd Constitutional Convention, my passion for the UWUA and my pride in our union burned brighter than ever.   

The theme “Essential By Industry, Exceptional by Choice” was apparent everywhere you looked and in every delegate who rose to speak. It resonates as deeply today as it did back in Atlantic City in 1946 at our union’s first constitutional convention.   

When I was elected National President back in 2019, I stood at the podium with expectations of a smooth road ahead, but reality had its own plans. Our path was marked by challenges and victories that showcased our union’s resilience. Among these, we confronted the most formidable challenge of our generation: a pandemic that tested us in more ways than we ever could have predicted. And it’s you, the utility workers, who have stood as the bedrock of resilience that carried our union — and our country — through to the other side.  

Time and again, you’ve proved the theme “Essential by Industry, Exceptional by Choice” isn’t just a slogan; it’s a call to action. Each of you is on the front lines ensuring that our homes and businesses have power, heat and water.   

As we witness the rising voices of workers across various industries, we find ourselves in a unique and pivotal moment. The spotlight is on us, and the time is ripe for action. It’s an opportunity we must seize, as the torchbearers of a legacy that has been shaped by generations of workers before us.  

Our leadership and collective bargaining agreements have laid the foundation, but this moment belongs to you, the members of this great union. Let it not pass by unnoticed. The present is your canvas, the choices yours to make. This is your time to strengthen our union, ensuring it evolves and thrives in changing times.  

This transformative time is not confined within the convention walls. It’s a movement that echoes every day you wake up, every conversation you engage in, and every action you take. Accept the essence of the convention’s subtheme: Embracing Our Differences. It’s a clarion call to adapt and grow, to welcome change, and to forge a path towards a better future for all utility workers.    

Remember, our strength lies in unity. Our strength emanates from each of you who stands tall against adversity, who ensures our workplaces are safe, and who champions our collective bargaining agreements.   

Picture a middle class bolstered by workers’ rights and a workplace empowered by unions. Imagine the legacy we’re forging — a legacy where every voice matters and every worker’s dignity and respect are non-negotiable.  

Let us not forgot our roots in coal and gas that have paved the way for where we are today. As we move forward, let’s be the architects of a new era — a future where our voice resonates not only within our workplaces but also across legislative chambers, community halls and labor councils.  

The challenges ahead are formidable, but the rewards of our united efforts are boundless. Organizing and engagement are our guiding stars. We must extend our reach, embrace new members, welcome new faces and remain at the forefront of change.  

As we move beyond the convention, let’s remember that our strength isn’t confined to a single event; it’s an ongoing commitment. Each of you has fire within, a fire that ignites when you stand up for workers’ rights, engage with your colleagues and demand respect.  

The responsibility doesn’t rest solely on me as your National President. It rests on every one of us — from local leaders to new members to seasoned industry veterans. We’re a team, a united front. The path ahead is exhilarating, filled with challenges and triumphs waiting to be claimed.   

The next four years are a canvas for us to paint a brighter future. We’ll organize, we’ll engage, and we’ll collaborate with fellow unions to amplify our impact. Let’s take the energy we sparked in Las Vegas back to our workplaces, to our neighborhoods and to the communities that depend on us. 

The moment is now. Embrace it with open arms. Let’s not merely shape history; let’s be the authors of a narrative that uplifts every worker, upholds our union values, and propels us towards a better world for all.  

Lastly, remember, we’re not just “Essential by Industry, Exceptional by Choice.” We’re exceptional by action, exceptional by unity, and exceptional by the unwavering strength that lies within each of us. 

The future is in our hands. Let’s embrace this moment and make it shine. Together, we’re unstoppable.