Earlier this year, the newly seated Young Workers Initiative Committee (YWIC) held its first face-to-face meeting in Atlanta, GA. UWUA President Langford and Vice President VanSlooten participated in the meetings. Langford introduced the committee to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Vice President Tefere Gebre, and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. For many on the committee, this was truly a mentoring moment as they had never met the AFL-CIO officers. The meeting was productive, energetic and educational. The Atlanta meeting set the groundwork for the 2015 YWIC work.
Among the activities committee members are focused on are:
Member-to-Member: As a way to make the committee an effective resource for utility workers, the YWIC is participating in the UWUA Member-to-Member campaign. As young workers make the YWIC a voice for them, they will become more engaged in union activities.
Young Worker Groups: YWIC members are charged with starting a local young worker group with the permission and oversight of local leadership.
Mentoring: Each committee member is committed to mentoring at least two young workers in their work location who are not normally engaged in union activities.
Leadership: YWIC members are embracing new leadership roles and responsibilities, as evidenced by Matt Koch’s acceptance of his nomination as the Education and Leadership Development Committee Chair. The mentoring commitments and local young worker start up groups, along with the Member- to-Member campaign will give everyone on the YWIC the opportunity to develop leadership skills.
Organizing Training: Understanding the importance of organizing to the life of the union, National Organizing Director Robert Houser is working with committee members to give them the skills they will need to become effective organizers.
Community Partnerships: A major goal of the YWIC is to improve the perception of unions by the general public. One of the best ways to do this is by creating positive community partnerships. YWIC members have raised funds and participated in food drives. Others volunteer at hospitals and senior citizen homes. The overall goal is to make the community our ally in the fight for social and economic justice.
AFL-CIO Next Up Youth Summit: The AFL-CIO held a youth summit in Chicago, IL, March 19-22. The UWUA was well represented at the Next Up summit, which consisted of over 80 educational and informative workshops. On the second day, 1,500 summit attendees took to the streets in various pro-worker protests, especially around the “Fight for Fifteen” at McDonald’s and a local food store giant.
UWUA 2015 National Convention: The YWIC will be active at the upcoming National Convention, giving daily presentations of their work.
In unity, Reggie Davis, Chair