Following through with their commitment to providing local union officers and members the support needed to best represent UWUA members, President Mike Langford and the National Executive Board are hosting Labor Education Initiative sessions in each of the union’s five regions this year.
These “Mini” Regional Education Conferences are focused on labor education and two-way communication with National Officers. They are allowing many rank-and-file members a first time opportunity to attend a union gathering that includes National Officers and staff, alongside other locals in their region.
Local officers are collaborating with the National to tailor program content to meet the needs of the participants. As a result, numerous subjects are being made available, including: The Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities of Stewards; Contract Costing; Labor History, Unions Then and Now; and Politics and Our Communities; and much more.
The feedback from participants is overwhelmingly positive.
“I have never been to one and my shop steward asked me if I wanted to attend,” says Ashley DaSilva, a Local 273 member working in the clerical unit at Columbia Gas in Brockton, MA. “The conference opened my eyes to all the work the union does. It’s a well-oiled machine. I took part in a roundtable that was like a mock trial for handling a grievance. It was really informative. If you are interested in getting involved in your union, one of these conferences would be very helpful.”
“I attended the training conference at Monroeville, PA and was pleased with the format,” says Local 577 President Randy Morgan. “It was open for opinions and information. The round table discussion was very informative. I received valuable information on an issue that my local is involved in at the moment.”
To date, the conferences are being held on a Saturday, to help attendance, and at no cost to the local union.
The first conference took place in Braintree, MA in March; then in Wilkes Barre, Washington, and Monroeville, PA. Additional educational sessions are planned for West Virginia, California, New Jersey and Michigan later in the year.
“A lot of the other locals have different scenarios and it made you feel like you weren’t the only one that had problems with the companies.”
— Monica Poziemski, Local 489, Field Service Rep.
“Workers are the power in this country, not the politicians. They are trying their best to take it away from us. I’m hoping by coming to these smaller classes that we can change that direction, starting as a union and then moving on to the country…. You want to get to one of these. You are going to talk to people that are important in this union and that can make changes.”
— Frank Hawk, Recording Secretary, Local 262
“President Langford and the officers were willing to listen to everything that we had to say. They told us prior to the roundtable discussion, ‘If you have something to say, we want you to say it.’ And we had the opportunity to speak our minds and get answers, straightforward answers.”
— Jack Boyle, President, Local 408