PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – D. Michael Langford
Passing the torch!
This is my last column as the UWUA president. At our July convention I will retire and new leadership will be elected to lead our great union forward.
I’m retiring knowing that we have built a strong foundation for future generations of utility workers and developed the leadership necessary to continue our work. It’s exciting for me to be able to retire knowing that the union and its members are in good hands.
A strong foundation
We’ve been planning this succession for some time. The union is in a good place. Our contracts are second to none. Our finances are healthy. The membership is engaged and our safety and training programs are preparing members to take on the challenges ahead. I feel it’s a good time to pass the torch on to the next generation.
I’ve been a utility worker for 41 years and I’ve seen a lot. In the last 10 years alone I’ve seen more change than in the first 30 years of my career. We’ve worked hard to help direct the changes and live up to our mission of growing the UWUA and creating new and better jobs in our industry.
We’ve done so while protecting the legacy of those who came before us who made it possible for us to enjoy a middle-class life. We’ve put in place the foundational pieces to continue doing so into the future.
Twelve years ago when I was elected president, we did not have the Power for America Training Trust, a multiemployer plan that puts us at the table with our employers training utility workers for the work ahead. We did not have the National Health and Welfare Fund to ensure our members and their families have access to comprehensive, affordable health care. We did not have the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program, putting our veterans to work. These programs, and more, are proving their success.
We are also building on the UWUA long-standing practice of collaborating with other unions and coalitions to advance our goals. The North American Solidarity Project engages us with a number of U.S.-based unions and Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union.
Just last month, we signed an affiliation agreement with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers that formalizes a long-time, mutually beneficial partnership between the two organizations and recognizes our shared interests in maintaining power generation facilities with multi-skilled workforces.
Leveraging our strengths
The agreement is not a merger, only a call for the Boilermakers and UWUA to share in areas and opportunities that naturally align, such as special projects, industry programs and infrastructure, resources and other cooperative efforts.
Together we will leverage the strength of our membership to advance joint priorities including carbon capture technology, workforce development, labor law reform, and infrastructure upgrades. Additionally, this agreement supports UWUA’s efforts to expand the safety and skills training options available to members by utilizing the Boilermakers’ extensive network of training facilities.
These projects, programs and affiliations give me the confidence to retire knowing that I have done all I could to build this union and put it in the hands of new leadership to continue the work.
There is a lot of work to do and I will be there with you. I want you to know how much I appreciate you allowing me to be the president of the Utility Workers Union of America.