National Committees Meet in Michigan to Compare Notes and Plan for the Future

UWUA members who are part of the Human Rights, Health and Safety, and Young Workers Committees joined together at the Power for America headquarters in Potterville, MI

In early April, UWUA members who are part of the Human Rights, Health and Safety, and Young Workers Committees joined together at the Power for America headquarters in Potterville, MI to see first-hand the importance of utility workers training utility workers, compare notes, and plan for the future.

“By bringing our National Committee members together in one place, at one time, we are building relationships to increase our strength internally and our power to deliver good contracts, safer workplaces, and stronger communities,” says UWUA President Mike Langford.

The Human Rights and Young Workers Initiative Committees held a joint session where Unifor Canada’s Director of Human Rights, Christine Maclin, gave a presentation on the best practices in dealing with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of discriminatory behaviors in the workplace. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 315,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy.

The prevailing message was that to adequately address these issues, a safe space for open and frank conversation must be created where members can have a learning dialogue about what and why people feel the way they do. After that, common interests must be highlighted to build relationships and partnerships so that common interests and goals can supersede differences.

“It was one of the best training sessions/human right instructions that I’ve ever attended,” said Nate Waters, chair of the Human Rights Committee.

Also in attendance at the Human Rights meeting were members of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE), and National Nurses United (NNU), unions that are working with the UWUA on the North American Solidarity Project.

National Health and Safety Committee members had a very productive first face-to-face meeting to continue their work of building a national network with regional committees to address issues on the local and national levels.

In addition to reviewing OSHA 300a forms received from locals around the country, they focused on their communications process using a dedicated UWUA Safety Committee Facebook page and other social media tools. They also broke into three subcommittees — electric, gas, and water — to address on their respective discipline’s safety agenda.

Meanwhile, the Young Workers Committee met to develop an agenda for their work going forward, including plans for their work at the 31st National Convention this coming July.

They fleshed out ideas to develop a financial educational plan to help young workers achieve financial independence and security through proper investing (real estate, 401K, markets, credit).

The also discussed the need to become more visible in their communities, especially in high schools, to promote union jobs as a great alternative to college with regard to economic stability and growth. They made plans is to attend career days and visit schools to explain the great opportunities that flow from collective bargaining, as well as the practical benefits of learning a skill or vocation.