EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Steven VanSlooten, Executive Vice President
Success Breeds Success
There is truth to the saying “success breeds success.” The UWUA is proving it every day in numerous ways: our collective bargaining agreements, the steady advancement of our membership, our Power 4 America training programs, and the growth of our UWUA Health and Welfare Fund, to name just a few.
There are no secrets to our success, and it is no accident. As a National Union we work collectively with our Locals and Joint Councils; we think outside the box, set the bar high, and work hard to reach our goals.
A union with solutions
Take our P4A trainings. We are proud of our successes in training and our model of union members training union members. We came up with the idea for P4A because it seemed to us that when company budgets got tight, training went by the wayside and worker training is just too important for the safety and skilling of our members to let that happen.
We launched the P4A Training Trust to address the lack of ongoing training and the recruitment of the next generation of utility workers. Today, our training programs are growing and are an important part of what we bring to the table as a union.
There’s nobody better to train the people to do the work we do than us. The more we train our own, the more we are in charge of the training, the more valuable we are to our members.
We cannot underestimate the value that our training brings to our employers as well. Utilities partner with us to train their workforce, our members, because we have a proven track record of providing state of the art training at a competitive cost.
The recent Department of Labor certification of our P4A national apprenticeship program for Renewable Energy Specialist is another example of how our successes are propelling us forward.
Our National Health and Welfare Fund is another program we have developed over the last number of years that is contributing to our success. As in the P4A example, we saw a problem and put together a plan to address it. In this case, it was the effect the rising cost of health care was having on members and the ability of employers to pay for good coverage.
The National Health and Welfare Fund provides a comprehensive package of benefits — medical, dental, eye care, life insurance, and disability coverage — to members and their families at a competitive cost to employers. In a number of cases these benefits come with no co-insurance payments for member participants.
The importance of union membership
We are able to do this because our administrative costs are low and we spread the costs of coverage over a growing number of member participants. We are now seeing some of the rewards of administering our own fund in contract bargaining and bringing new members into the union.
We believe that the more the union does for its members, the stronger we all become. By representing, insuring, training, and being part of everyday life — more than just work life — our members, and potential members, see the value of what their union dues buy.
By being able to provide these things, the union is more relevant and more visible. This also brings the importance of union membership home. Talk around the kitchen table about the benefits of a union introduces our children and grandchildren to the importance of union membership.
Our experience shows that when members feel represented and that there is value in what their dues are getting them, they will pay their dues, whether they are in a right-to-work state or not.
The UWUA works hard to represent you. Our goal is to ensure that your work environment provides you with a better home environment. Let’s face it, we all want to do better and we all want to succeed in achieving the American Dream.
Our successes are leading to further success in our members’ ability to achieve their dreams.