Organizing

Officers Report 2015, Part 1

“ORGANIZING IS OUR FUTURE!”

“Organizing is our Future” has been adopted and utilized in many organizing campaigns throughout the country. In today’s environment of anti-union employers and political attacks on unions and working families, the UWUA is working tirelessly in organizing and working on behalf of working families.

Utility Industry

Prior to 1996, the utility industry was highly organized. In the electric and gas industries, more than 50% of all workers were unionized. The high union density in the utility industry gave the UWUA the ability to negotiate high wages and benefits for all of our members.

Since 1996, deregulation, restructuring, and changes in the utility industry have lowered union density in the industry by more than 20%. Our strength at the bargaining table and our ability to pay for health care and higher utility rates have all come under attack.

In an effort to fight to protect our members, the UWUA initiated an innovative and aggressive organizing approach. Since the last Constitutional Convention, the UWUA has intensified organizing efforts to establish union representation where workers have been denied this right, and has pursued affiliations with independent unions.

In an effort to fight to protect our members, the UWUA initiated an innovative and aggressive organizing approach.

The UWUA targeted clerical, technical and professional employees who have traditionally not been organized, and began the process of educating them on the importance of a collective bargaining agreement and the importance of joining the UWUA, a professional organization. The UWUA has set up numerous meetings with our locals who represent call center workers, electric workers, natural gas workers, water workers, sewer workers, nuclear workers, contractors, and public and private sector workers.

Since the last Constitutional Convention four years ago, the UWUA has brought in more than 3,000 new members.

 

Organizing Activities and Campaigns

The UWUA, over the past four years, has committed its resources to many workers that have expressed interest in joining the UWUA. This has required a substantial investment in both economic resources and expertise because organizing campaigns are often painstaking and methodical, in that it could take months, sometimes years, before the efforts of a campaign take root. Even with sophisticated deployment, there is no guarantee that the efforts will be a success. That’s because employers run anti-union campaigns, which range from making empty promises, to hiring union-busters, using fear and coercion, to using the broken legal system to delay elections and to drag their feet on first contract negotiations.

Organizing Utility Contractors

Local 609 represents workers from six (6) different construction companies throughout the US: Northern Pipeline Construction Company, Grid One, Corix, Khafra, Deerpath (Scope Services) and J.D. Covely Inc.

Region I Organizing Activities

UNITED WATER, DE
Clerical
Local 584

NORTHERN PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, MA
Local 609

SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT GAS, CT
Dispatchers
Local 470

TRAFFIC PLAN, NJ
Local 409

J.D. COVELY, INC, NJ
Local 609

EMERA, RI
Local B310

NATIONAL GRID, MA
Cable Company
Local B330

EVERSOURCE (NSTAR), MA
Local 369

Region II Organizing Activities

LAKELAND ELECTRIC, FL
Electric System Operators
Local 604

PLEASANT HILLS BOROUGH, PA
Local 433

ALLEGHENY COUNTY SANITARY AUTHORITY, PA
Local 433

GRID ONE, PA
Local 609

KHAFRA, PA
Local 609

CORIX UTILITIES, PA
Local 609

Region III Organizing Activities

FIRSTENERGY HARRISON POWER PLANT, WV
Local 304
After years of a hard fought battle Local 304 was successful in getting a first contract negotiated.

FIRSTENERGY, OH
Collectors
Local 118

THE POTOMAC EDISON COMPANY, PETERSBURG, WV
Local 102

NORTHERN PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, TX
Local 609

NORTHERN PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, OK
Local 609

CANTON TOWNSHIP, OH
Local 605

Region IV Organizing Activities

ENTERGY, PALISADES, MI
Technical Workers
Local 150

DTE ENERGY, MI
Call Center
Local 223

BARTLETT NUCLEAR, INC, MI
Local 223

UTILITY POLE TECHNOLOGIES, INC, IL
Local 18007

HOLLAND BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS, MI
Local 610

Region V Organizing Activities

MINORITY CONTRACTORS, CA
Local 246

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAS COMPANY, CA
Local 132
Southern California Gas workers are organized under a unique joint certification between the UWUA and International Chemical/UFCW, permitting them to join a union.

Organizing Department/Volunteer Member Organizers

The UWUA National Organizing Department consists of National UWUA Director of Organizing Bob Houser and National Organizer Larry Kelley.

Through the volunteer member organizing training, the UWUA trained the Young Workers Initiative Committee members to serve as the centerpiece of the UWUA’s organizing strategy, by continuing to create a core of volunteer member organizers from local affiliates throughout the country. Volunteer member organizers are dispatched to various organizing drives within their region. The UWUA plans to continue to hold more training classes and expand its core organizers.

Negotiating Neutrality, Access to the Property and Card Check Agreement

With all the mergers and acquisitions the UWUA is experiencing in the Utility Industry, it is critical that the UWUA negotiate successor language, access to the property and neutrality agreements. The UWUA has put together a historical program which will require local unions and national staff to propose neutrality, access to the property and card check language at every contract negotiations, every intervention, and every time an employer asks the UWUA National or locals for assistance. These types of agreements have helped the UWUA organize.

With all the mergers and acquisitions the UWUA is experiencing in the Utility Industry, it is critical that the UWUA negotiate successor language, access to the property and neutrality agreements.

New Local Unions Chartered

In the four years since the last convention, the UWUA issued two new charters. During the same period, some charters were withdrawn as the result of mergers of local unions, thus bringing the number of chartered local unions at the start of the 2015 convention to 206.

Membership Status

The UWUA is pleased that its efforts to slow down the loss of members due to deregulation, downsizing and other utility companies’ attempts to deplete our work force have been successful.

Summary

In summary, the UWUA pursued many organizing targets and was very successful in a high percentage of those. Through affiliations and organizing the unorganized, the UWUA has made a firm commitment to continue to increase our membership. The UWUA organizing activities will continue in a significant way to strengthen our ability to negotiate the best wages and benefits possible for our membership. BE WISE, ORGANIZE!


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