Open letter from President Mike Langford
Utility Workers Union of America members are the best trained, highest skilled, safest, most productive workers in the world. We keep the lights on, the water flowing, and the gas burning. We provide life’s necessities and make the American Dream a reality for our members, their families, and the public we serve.
We are able to do this, as individuals and collectively as a union, because of our mission as utility workers and UWUA members. Our mission, as written by those whose shoulders we stand on, those who through blood, sweat and tears built our union, is in the preamble of our Constitution.
“The UWUA, AFL-CIO is an organization of members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and by an understanding of the necessity and value of the services we provide to the public for their health and well-being. We are dedicated to improving the lives of our members and their families and to enhancing the quality of life in our communities.
“We are an organization of men and women of every race, religion, age, and ethnicity, who are committed to a society where all workers and their families live and work with dignity; where there is an economic and political mandate for a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth for those performing useful service to society; where workers have a collective voice and power in the workplace; where economic well being is achieved for our members and all workers, where work is satisfying and fairly rewarded.”
It is important for each and every one of us to know that this is our history; this is our mission going back to August 1, 1945, when the UWUA was chartered by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), now the AFL-CIO.
Now more than ever we need to live by these words and make them a reality not just for our members but also for everyone who works for a living.
At no other time in our union’s history have we faced such an onslaught on our rights and well being as workers. The Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other federal agencies that govern our workplaces, are all stacked with anti-worker, anti-union, pro-corporate officials who are doing all they can to protect the interests of the rich. They do this by attacking working people and their unions. In so doing, they are destroying the middle class and ruining our great nation.
As Utility Workers we have a strong sense of history. We honor the words and deeds of those who came before us and let them guide us on a path into the future. That’s why the theme of our upcoming 31st Constitutional Convention is: “Our Mission: Protecting Our Legacy, Building Our Future.” This theme will focus the National Union’s work for the next four years.
We will build on the successes we’ve achieved since our last Convention whose theme — Reclaim, Retrain, Repower, Repair America! — guided us in our work for the past four years.
Our coming together at an historic convention couldn’t happen at a more important moment. This is a pivotal time for working people, the union, and our nation. As Utility Workers, we are on the front lines of a rapidly changing world. By remembering where we came from and learning from our history, we will set a course for a future that can benefit everyone.
Protecting Our Legacy
The forty-hour workweek, weekends, paid sick days, paid vacations, the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Social Security, Medicare, healthcare coverage, pensions — this is our legacy.
The list goes on and on. Throughout our nation’s history, workers organized into unions to improve the lives of Americans, all Americans. It was done through collective bargaining with employers, electing politicians who fought for the American people, and through direct action.
Despite the continued onslaught by those who would like to take away our livelihoods and all the gains we’ve made, the UWUA continues to push forward. We do this because we are relentless in protecting what we’ve won, our legacy, and focusing on building a better future.
Building Our Future
Over the last decade we have put the building blocks in place to ensure our success going forward. The Power for America Training Trust and the National Health and Welfare Fund are providing training and benefits at a national level to more and more members.
We have built on the successes of our Human Rights and Young Workers committees to build a National Veterans Committee, the Women’s Caucus, and a National Safety Committee. All of these committees are now working together to protect and strengthen our membership, build our union for the future, and bring the benefits of UWUA membership to unorganized utility workers.
We have added a Government Affairs Director and are weighing in on the writing and promotion of legislation to protect the jobs we have, as well as open avenues for Utility Workers for the future. We all know that what we win at the bargaining table can be taken away with the stroke of a pen and are more active than ever in the electoral arena.
Most recently, we created a full-time Communications Director position and will soon have someone on staff to improve communications internally with our members and externally with the public.
In addition to these important additions to our national staff, we are continually building relationships with other unions and union-supported organizations that share our trade union values and goals as utility workers.
In short, we are doing everything we can to build a better future for our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come.
At our 31st Convention we will celebrate our successes and map a course for the next four years. Our Mission: Protecting Our Legacy, Building Our Future!
D. Michael Langford, National President