It gives me great pleasure to report that the growing activism of our members is making us a stronger union. Over the last few years, every time the National Union has reached out with opportunities to get involved, more of you have shown up.
That tells me that our union is on the right path and headed in the right direction. With a more active membership, good things will happen.
Evidence of this is on display at this year’s regional conferences. Hundreds of UWUA members are participating in intensive workshops designed to give them the tools they need to defend themselves and their co-workers on the shop floor, at the bargaining table, and through the grievance process. This couldn’t come at a more crucial time as the war on workers and their unions is intensifying.
It’s up to each and every one of us to do what we can to make sure meeting the needs of working people is the top item on our nation’s agenda.
With that as our goal, we launched the UWUA campaign to elect pro-worker candidates in the upcoming midterm elections. We are asking each local to designate election coordinators to work with the National Union to make sure you get the information you need to make an informed decision about which candidates will put the needs of working people first.
Regardless of party affiliation, we want to elect people who are looking out for workers. The recent election of Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb is proof that we can do this. He ran on a pro-worker, pro-union agenda with strong UWUA backing, and won.
As I write this, we await the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Janus v. AFSCME case. If, as expected, the court rules against the AFSCME union, “right to work” will replace “closed shops” for most public sector workers. Although most of our members work in the private sector, many are public sector workers and we will have to do everything we can to ensure such a decision does not hurt them.
We are First Responders
As the cover story of this issue of The Utility Worker shows, we are becoming recognized as first responders. I applaud the people of Lakeland, Florida for highlighting our first responder status with a public art monument.
At the recent Edison Electric Institute’s convention I had the privilege to represent our lineworkers and those from different trades who worked to restore power to Puerto Rico after last year’s devastating hurricanes. Having an industry leader like EEI recognize the work our members do tells me that our push for first responder status is having a positive effect.
We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to keep coal plants open. I will be in Wyoming with Local 127 in June to attend CONNECT 2018, a high-level conference on the future of carbon capture. We successfully joined the effort to get the federal government to support investment in this technology. We are now working to get the necessary infrastructure built to allow coal-fired powerplants to stay open. We are also looking at possible investors to buy coal plants that are threatened with closure.
We are also making great strides in securing our place in the growing offshore wind industry. We created a partnership with industry leader Bay State Wind and are committed to working with them as they seek to win bids on the Atlantic coast.
All of this work benefits from our members’ growing activism. I know that with an active membership, we can win.