State of the Union Address
Day 4 Report
The final day of the 34th Constitutional Convention was called to order by Sec./Tre. Elizabeth Bunn who welcomed back the delegates and began the morning’s proceedings. President Ron Gettelfinger brought his family forward for introductions. “We are a family in the UAW and then we have our own families,” President Gettelfinger stated. “We express our thanks to the UAW families everywhere for supporting us and allowing their loved ones who are UAW members the time to work toward economic and social justice for all working families.”
Elizabeth Bunn then returned to the podium to read the official results of the previous day’s elections. “The official results are elected:
- President Ron Gettelfinger
In addition all Regional Directors were elected by accumulation including Region 8 Director Gary Casteel. The retiring IEB members were once again thanked by President Gettelfinger, following which the new IEB was sworn in and took their place in their new positions.
United Way Southeastern Michigan Director Mike Brennan came forward to present President Ron Gettelfinger with the Joseph A. Beirne Award. This award is named for former Communications Workers of America (CWA) Joseph A, Beirne who was a tireless advocate for the United Way. Beirne was elected to the board of directors of United Way in 1956. Beirne believed the future of the labor movement lay in its complete identification with the health and welfare of the entire community.
President Ron Gettelfinger has a long history of support for the United Way, and serves as a member of the Detroit United Way Broad of Directors and chaired the 2004 Fund Raising Drive. “President Gettelfinger not only “talks the talk” but “walks the walk” as well,” states United Way Southeastern Michigan Director Mike Brennan who nominated Gettelfinger for the award.” To know Mr. Gettelfinger is to know a highly principled, dedicated champion for the rights of others. He is driven by serving others and genuinely wants to make an impact on people’s lives.
I can tell you what type of person Ron Gettelfinger is. When we had a day of building 40 wheelchair ramps in Detroit, Ron Gettelfinger didn’t show up for a media event. He went out and helped build those ramps and had the media cover the UAW members building ramps. Ron Gettelfinger would not throw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game, but instead helped a disabled child to the mound to throw out that first pitch. Ron Gettelfinger chaired a fund raising drive that saw the collection of over $64,000,000. He insists that it wasn’t him but the membership of the UAW that made the difference. At banquets Ron Gettelfinger declined a seat at the head table, but instead sat in the audience with the UAW membership. He truly embodies the concept of service above self.”
The convention returned its attention to resolutions with the first being a resolution that states the UAW’s unwavering support of our troops. The resolution was debated on the floor as delegates voiced their strong support of our troops. The next resolution involved expecting our nation to have a strong commitment to Homeland Security.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney then addressed the convention. “Let me also say that you are very fortunate to have Ron Gettelfinger servicing the membership of this great union. This week the press has characterized Ron Gettelfinger has been smart, tough and modest. Modesty is a character trait that more of us who are labor leaders could use and he is an inspiration to us all.
I understand the challenges you are facing today, for the AFL-CIO and the UAW are bound together through our past, our present and our future. It was the UAW that won contracts that helped pave the way for the middle class. Together today we are at war with the corporations who use bankruptcy not as a last resort by as a mean to break the standard of living of the workers. It began with the airlines and the steel mills and it has now spread to the auto industry. The situation at Delphi is a prime example of this. The only worker at Delphi who is not in jeopardy is Steve Miller, who watches his wages go up, up, up. The time has come to stand together to bring them down. I know as does your leaders that in today’s market we have to work together, but we will not stand by and allow our members to be stamped out.
We have to let voters know that the seeds of bigotry have been replanted in our communities and the seeds are blooming. We have to hold the failures of the Bush Administration up high for all to see. Poverty is up 20%, health care coverage down, pensions in jeopardy, livelihoods at stake. We can make a difference and it begins at the voting places. You have had success with organizing, such as Johnson Controls and Freightliner. It has been said that we must give our children roots and we must give our children wings. The UAW and labor has given wings to the middle class we must keep those wings in flight. Brothers and sisters, there is another saying that goes “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I ask that you don’t follow this rule with the information you have received at this convention. Go back to your locals and your communities and tell them what you have learned here. We are just a few seats away from regaining control of the House this fall and it is imperative that we educate our members and our neighbors about the issues facing working families in this country. Thank you all and God Bless the UAW.”
The next resolution debated involved community
action for the next four years. A resolution was read that outlined the
UAW’s position on holding the government accountable for taking
the plight of working class Americans into consideration. Next was a resolution
to call for International unity covering UAW locals across all sectors
and countries. The final motion of the convention was to adopt the final
resolutions left in the proposals
for the convention.
This convention was held during a time when union members and working class Americans everywhere find themselves under attack from the powers of corporations and right winged politicians. As President Gettelfinger stated on the opening day this union was born in adversity. These are challenging times but the leadership and membership of this great union are up to the challenge. Solidarity is the glue that holds working Americans and union members together. Labor and the middle class are tied together and we rise or fall together. We must continue the fight for the rights of working Americans, we must continue the fight for our members and we must continue to fight for our right to a living wage. We were born out of adversity and it is adversity that binds us together. We must fight for our members, fight for the right to organization for the unorganized and we must never waiver in our commitment.
We must leave this convention solid in our
resolve to support our leadership, support each other and support labor.
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