The UE General Executive Board met in Pittsburgh from June 5-8 to review the union’s work and finances. They heard reports on the union’s organizing work, deepening relationship with Unifor, and work building international links between GE workers. After an extensive review of the union’s finances, the board passed a budget to carry the union’s work forward.
While West Virginia’s teachers were making history and inspiring working people around the world with their nine-day strike, state workers, members of UE Local 170, also notched up their own victories this spring.
In December and January, more than 1000 supporters signed on to a UE petition opposing attacks on workers’ rights in Mexico. The petition, addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, demanded that he prevent an agreement on a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) while horrendous labor legislation is pending in Mexico.
On Monday, June 4th, UE Local 150 leaders held a press conference condemning the North Carolina legislature's back-room deals, which resulted in $900 million in tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations being included in the 2019 budget.
Newly formed Local 1117 recently completed contract negotiations. The workers, who work at Ailey Solar, selling and installing residential and commercial solar power systems, voted unanimously to approve the new agreement. Workers are entitled to paid sick days for the first time, wages increases of $1.75 per hour, and guaranteed minimum work hours each week. The workers also won increased protection of bargaining unit work, additional employer-paid educational benefits and an agreement from the company's owners to explore transitioning the company to a worker-owned cooperative.
UE Local 222 members who work for the East Windsor Water Pollution Control Authority ratified a new five-year contract with the WPCA commissioner in May. They prepared for contract negotiations by attending budget meetings before putting their proposals together. They then created a Power Point presentation which contained a biography of each employee describing their skills sets.
On February 28th, the members of UE Local 228 overwhelming ratified a new two-year agreement that includes substantial wage increases and corrects egregious company practices that gave many employees disparate benefits for the same work. The local’s 600 members process immigration documents and provide petitioner support at the Department of State’s National Visa Center. They are employed by federal contractor PAE and its subcontractor, Ikun LLC.
Members of Local 121, who manufacture nails and rivets for Clendenin Brothers, took a firm stand against management’s aggressive concession proposals and settled a new five-year contract with solid wage increases, improved opportunities for advancement, prohibitions against unfair discipline and improved paid sick and personal leave.
“South Koreans don’t want [U.S.] missiles there, they don’t want any of that. They want unification,” reports Eastern Region Vice President Darrion Smith, who represented UE on a US Labor Against the War (USLAW) delegation to Korea at the beginning of May.
UE's national officers and members of Locals 506, 601 and 618 traveled to Toronto on May 7 and 8 for the first meeting of the global General Electric Trade Union Network, hosted by UE's Canadian partner Unifor and organized by the global trade union federation IndustriALL.