Day 1 Report
The 34th International UAW Constitutional Convention
opened at 10:00AM with the presentation of the colors by members of
the UAW Veterans Committee followed by the playing of the National Anthem
and prayer. Region 5 Director Jim Wells welcomed the delegates as the
director of the hosting region. Las Vegas Council Person and Mayor Pro
Temp Gary Reece welcomed the delegates to the city and thank them for
utilizing the town for the convention and stated that Las Vegas was
a union town and supported labor.
The convention began with reports from the Credential, Rules and Resolution
Committees. UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn addressed the convention
and thanked those who had put the convention together.
Next UAW President Ron Gettelfinger took the podium to present his state
of the union address. August 26, 2005 marked the 70th anniversary of
the founding of the UAW. In recognition of that milestone, the theme
of this, our 34th Constitutional Convention, is “Honoring Our
Past, Forging Our Future.”
We are pleased that we are joined at this convention by so many individuals
who helped build our union and who have stayed involved in our union’s
work -- our retirees from the local unions and area councils, our retired
staff and our retired regional directors and officers. Our heartfelt
thanks to all of you for being here and for your continued involvement.
In many ways, we’re different – yet we’re united by
our shared values, hopes and dreams for a better world.
We show that by our commitment to our communities at every level of
our union. We showed it after the tsunami devastated southern Asia in
2004. UAW members immediately reached out to help.
And we showed it last year when hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded
the Gulf Coast and the Bush Administration’s cold indifference
to the desperation and devastation was so evident.
UAW members and the rest of America stood up to help, while our government
We show it in the many ways our local veterans committees and our National
Veterans Advisory Council support and honor their fellow veterans.
Most recently, by donating money and volunteering their time to build
a two-family home at the VFW National Home for Children. It’s
named after Stephen P. Yokich and it’s the first new residence
built there in 40 years – and the first ever built by a group
outside the VFW.
And we show it every day in communities in every UAW region where our
members are volunteering at shelters, repairing homes for the elderly,
building playgrounds for children, organizing blood drives, building
wheelchair ramps, working with youth groups, and participating in efforts
such as United Way, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots,
Race for the Cure, and many more.
Everything we’ve fought for in the political arena
is at risk from those politicians who want to destroy the social contract
and roll back the clock on 70 years of social and economic progress
for working families.
Things that once seemed rock solid – jobs we’ve done and
done well, the retirement and health-care coverage we’ve earned,
our right to a collective voice in our workplace – are threatened
by many corporate CEOs, right-wing politicians and anti-union groups.
They don’t think twice about the consequence of shifting jobs
to Mexico, China, India and other low-wage nations. Or about what happens
to real people and real communities when companies misuse the bankruptcy
process to break promises to workers, retirees, customers, suppliers
What’s at stake is more than our paychecks and benefits. What’s
at stake is our shared vision of an America that lives up to its promise
of freedom, opportunity, dignity and social and economic justice for
all. That’s our American Dream.
(click here for broader text of the
Following President Gettelfinger’s speech the work of debating
and voting in resolutions began. A motion was made to accept the docket
of resolutions proposed by locals across the country. A motion was made
to amend the motion to include new resolutions from the floor beginning
Tuesday. After much debate, the delegates voted to defeat the motion
to allow new resolutions due to the fact that each local had an opportunity
to submit resolutions using the established process.
The first resolutions debated was the UAW’s position on the role
of government in financial matters concerning working Americans. This
includes the crisis on poverty and inequality in wealth. The manufacturing
crisis and tax fairness was also an important part of the discussion.
The UAW is opposed to the repeal of the estate tax based on the fact
that enough tax breaks have already been provided for the rich. The
UAW feels that since working class Americans pay income taxes through
their pay role check, those wealthy individuals who gain from huge inheritance
should shoulder their share of the tax burden. By repealing the estate
tax which only applies to inheritance of $2,000,000 or more, then the
rich would pay their share of taxes.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama addressed the conference via satellite.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there with you all today. Believe
me, if I had a chance to head to Vegas, I would. But I’m glad
I got the chance to speak to you all for a little bit today, because
I do think that both this union and this country are at a crossroads.
It would be naive of me to start without acknowledging
what’s been on everyone’s mind during this convention. It’s
a challenging time for the labor movement. And I can imagine that many
of you are anxious not only about labor’s future, but yours. You’re
wondering, will I be able to leave my children a better world than I
was given? Will I be able to save enough to send them to college or
plan for a secure retirement? Will my job even be there tomorrow? Who
will stand up for me in this new economy?
In this time of change and uncertainty, these questions
are expected – but they are not unique. For generations, they’ve
been asked and then answered by Americans who’ve stood in your
shoes and shared your concerns about the future. (click
here for the complete speech)
The day ended with continued discussions on resolutions
concerning the issues facing working class Americans. Delegates discussed
Social Security, health care, jobs and safeguarding pensions.
The conference is scheduled to reconvene tomorrow morning
(June 13, 2006) at 9:00AM Pacific time.