With one region left to go, Region IV, I feel good about where we are as a union. Our members are interested in doing whatever they can to protect the quality of their jobs, act in solidarity with other workers, and bring the benefits of collective bargaining to more people. That is the only way to raise living standards for working families. At this year’s conferences we get down to basics, with workshops on contract bargaining, enforcement, grievances, arbitrations, and engaging members.
At this year’s conferences we get down to basics, with workshops on contract bargaining, enforcement, grievances, arbitrations, and engaging members. Hundreds of UWUA members attended the conferences to arm themselves with the knowledge and skills it takes to be successful in representing their union sisters and brothers. This will translate into more UWUA power on the job.
We also took action in solidarity with other union members. At Region V, we walked a UNITE HERE! picket line at a Westin Hotel where workers are fighting for a fair contract. And at Region I, we stood shoulder to shoulder with CWA and IBEW members during their successful Verizon strike. We do this because we know the important role solidarity plays in the labor movement. We know what it’s like to picket an employer or be on strike, or even locked out, and how good it feels when other people show their support.
Open dialogue among conference participants and with National Officers is always a valuable part of our gatherings. As we have in recent years, Young Workers from each region gave extensive presentations on the work they are doing through the union’s Young Workers Initiative. Putting young workers out in front en-courages them to take leadership roles. They are our future.
The UWUA Women’s Caucus, formed at last year’s convention, is off and running, as reported on by Co-Chairs Valerie King and Ursula Grant. Our union has more and more women members, and we must involve them if we are to remain strong and vibrant. Human Rights Committee members also shared information on building understanding among our increasingly diverse membership.
And, in our ongoing efforts to include our veterans in everything we do, we had Will Fischer, director of the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, at our regional meetings.
Communications plays an important role in our union. As part of this communications focus, our new social media platform was highlighted at the conferences. Using it, we will be better able to communicate with members, with communities, and with the public at large. Go to www.facebook.com/theUWUA to get involved.
By showing the good things we do, and the benefit of being a union member, we encourage others to fight for the things we have, good pay, benefits, working conditions and a voice on the job. Our goal is to fuel a race to the top, countering the corporate push for a race to the bottom.
We will build on the success of the regional conferences by holding one-day educational conferences at a more local level. We want to do everything we can to make sure UWUA members and officers have the tools they need to get the job done. That requires continuous learning. And that’s what it takes for us to continue to be the safest, most productive, and highest skilled workers in the utility industry.
Next year, in October 2017, we will again have the opportunity to come together in large numbers for the Power 4 America (P4A) conference. Between now and the P4A conference, we have much important work to do, especially around the upcoming elections. Each one of us must do everything we can to elect candidates who will fight to improve the lives of working people.