President’s Message, Fall 2015

Making the Most of the World’s Focus on Energy

D. Michael Langford, UWUA National President

D. Michael Langford
UWUA National President

There is a focus on energy now that is greater than at any time in history. Evidence of this is everywhere. You cannot turn on the TV or open a newspaper without seeing news coverage of energy related electric, gas, and water utilities.

That puts the UWUA and our members in a good place. It’s up to each and every one of us to make the most of our knowledge and the power we have as utility workers. Industry leaders, regulators, and politicians are open to having conversations with us now more than at any time I can remember. They want to know what front line workers and their union representatives have to say.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when we present our views on things related to workers’ rights to join a union, workplace fairness, collective bargaining, and corporate control of our government.

Using our leverage to make gains 
Therein lies a challenge to us all: how do we leverage our experience and expertise in the utility industry to get what we need as working people?

Langford quoteThis election year offers us the opportunity to meet this challenge head on. We will be mobilizing and working harder than ever to ensure our voice is heard at the polls.

The 2016 election comes as energy concerns are taking center stage. Decisions around climate change, renewable energy, fossil fuels, and new technology are all coming to a head. The energy decisions our nation makes in the coming months and years will impact UWUA members in ways never seen before.

I encourage you to seek out the decision makers in your community. Make yourself available to them. Help guide them to make the right decisions in those areas that will affect you, your family and your community. The UWUA will give you the tools you need to succeed in these efforts.

As a result of the changing energy landscape, we have to be diligent in defending what we have gained, resilient in our ability to absorb disruptive changes, and flexible enough to make the most of the changes taking place in our industry.

These are the same qualities that utility workers have exhibited for generations. I am fully confident we will succeed in maintaining the gains we have made, and bringing the benefits of a union contract to others who are entering or are already utility workers.

Light at the end of the tunnel
As challenging as things are, we are making strides in ensuring utility workers are the best trained, highest skilled, safest, most valuable workers in the world. We are continuing to build momentum in the training of existing and new members. The importance of this cannot be understated. There are powerful forces out there trying to destroy unions. But, as long as there is a need for skilled utility workers, and the UWUA is providing the raining for these skilled positions, we will succeed.

Organizing where we’ve never gone before
We’re putting on a full court press to organize new members. And the timing couldn’t be better. Along with the world’s focus on energy comes the buying and selling of utility companies at a scale we haven’t seen for some time.

In the rush for acquisitions, workers feel threatened and are being left behind. One result: we are finding success in organizing groups that were traditionally thought not to be union friendly.

They are finding that when their job and their livelihood are on the line, they can turn to the UWUA. As we maneuver through our changing industry, protecting our members, and future members, is the top priority.

With energy in the news, spread the word. The UWUA and our members are ready, willing and able to do what it takes to get the job done!