Building Our Union

National Executive Vice President, Patrick Dillon

The Utility Workers Union of America, coming off a hugely successful convention in 2023, will focus on membership development and education in 2024 and 2025.

In April, we’ll hold the first of four 2024 regional conferences. In the past, in off-convention years we alternated regional conferences with conferences by the Power for America Training Trust (P4A). Going forward, we’ll keep to a similar schedule, but the Power for America conference scheduled for 2025 will be renamed and reformatted to focus on member leadership development. Recall that in 2021, when COVID restrictions were in full force, P4A held its conference virtually with some measure of success. Through that experience, P4A will be expanding its online and virtual offerings to enable members year-round access to various P4A training opportunities.

The UWUA’s 2024 Regional Conferences will focus on the work of the UWUA National Committees. It will include training developed and facilitated by members of those committees:

  • Skill-up to Be an Effective Leader, presented by the National Veterans Committee, will be an interactive leadership presentation with committee members introducing tools to help members be effective leaders within their locals.
  • Systems of Safety, presented by the National Safety Committee, will offer an innovative training program that focuses on solving safety issues using the UWUA’s own Systems of Safety process.
  • Culture Change Training, presented by the National Women’s Caucus, the Young Workers Initiative, and the Human Rights Committee, is a program developed to help local leaders confidently and effectively address unhealthy behaviors in the workplace.

Additional programs will be presented by various members of the National Staff, including:

  • Internal Union Governance, a Guide to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act by UWUA General Counsel David Radtke. It will focus on the union members’ bill of rights, union elections and the fiduciary responsibility of union officers, employees, and other representatives.
  • Policy and Political Advocacy for Labor by Governmental Affairs Director Lee Anderson, who will lead a discussion on how the UWUA works through policy and politics to advocate for its members and how members can become directly involved at all levels of the government.
  • Effective Communications by Communications Director Erin Bzymek, who will present on the various communication platforms available today for local unions to best engage with members, share the union’s story, and advance the local’s agenda.

To cap off the regional conferences, Al Davidoff will share compelling insights from his life in the labor movement. Davidoff tells an extraordinary story of ordinary workers who took on the dominant power in the community, built a strong organization, and campaigned for fair wages and dignity.  Davidoff is the co-founder of the National Labor Leadership Initiative and the Director of Organizational and Leadership Development for US labor’s global arm at the Solidarity Center. His presentation will focus on and include a copy of his book, Unionizing the Ivory Tower: Cornell Workers’ Fifteen-Year Fight for Justice and a Living Wage. Members planning to attend a regional conference are encouraged to pre-read an excerpt from Davidoff’s book (it will be included for download on the regional conference app).

The key to successful regional conferences is member engagement. All the programs offered are geared towards members participating in the discussions. The regional conferences are more than information being passed from the union to members, they are also about information being passed from members to union leadership to help identify members’ interests, opinions, and needs. Members attending should plan on two and a half days packed with opportunities to not only better themselves but also the union, but this can only happen with true member engagement.