The UAW held its legislative conference from Jan 17 -20, 2011 in Washington DC. Representing NOLSW/UAW Local 2320 officers and staff were President Gordon Deane, Financial-Secretary Tim Yeager, Recording Secretary Elaine Lantz, National Vice-President Robert Garza, Northeast Vice-President David Podell and organizers Donis Borks and Pam Smith.
In his opening address, UAW President Bob King emphasized that the UAW has always been about more than just bargaining and grievance handling. The UAW is part of a larger social movement to push our country in a progressive direction on issues that affect working families. King announced to the delegates that more emphasis will be placed on working in coalition with community and faith-based organizations.
King also announced that the UAW was embarking on a major campaign to organize transplant auto companies in the US. Due to the dramatic growth in the number of non-unionized plants built by foreign auto makers, the UAW now represents only 55% of the workers in US-based auto plants. “If we don’t organize the transnationals,” warned King, “the UAW will not survive.” The organizing campaign will include public demonstrations against companies that won’t agree to principles for conducting fair elections.
“This was an important wake-up call,” said Local 2320 President Gordon Deane. “Every UAW member has a stake in this fight, regardless of whether they work in the auto industry.” The wages and benefits negotiated by the UAW and other industrial unions helped raise the standard of living for all Americans, thereby creating the middle class. With the decline of the union movement, wages for working people have stagnated, widening the gap between rich and poor.
Energized by numerous speakers, and despite the terrible political climate, delegates went to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress. The delegates advocated for creating jobs, rebuilding of the infrastructure, supporting of public workers and opposing repeal of the health care reform act passed last year. NOLSW/UAW Local 2320 delegates also talked to congressional representatives about continuing support for legal services funding.
To find out more about the conference, click on the links below.