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June 02, 2014

36th Constitutional Convention Begins June 2, 2014
by UAW Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

The 36th UAW Constitutional Convention is being held in Detroit, Michigan June 2-5, 2014. Every four years UAW locals across the country elect and send delegates to this Constitutional Convention to debate and vote on resolutions to the UAW Constitution and elect the International Executive Board. The UAW is truly a democratic organization, providing the membership the final say in how things are done. The UAW Constitution is a living document, providing the membership with the opportunity to make changes as they are needed in accordance with shifts in social and economic situations.

The theme of this convention is “it’s Our Time.” For 79 years the UAW has represented America’s workers, blazing the way with advancements such as  employer provided health care, cost of living raises, vested pension plans, health and safety, worker voice and quality and the list goes on and on. In addition to these ideals that our members and others have benefitted, the UAW has lobbied our elected officials on legislation that is aimed at helping America’s working families. At the end of the day that is what the UAW is about- America’s working families.

This UAW Constitutional Convention falls at a time when things are beginning to improve for the American auto industry. Four years ago General Motors and Chrysler were in the midst of restructuring from bankruptcy and Ford was still trying to regain their footing from the melt down of the financial markets. For the first time on three contracts, next year the UAW should be in a better position to bargain due to the rebounding automotive markets and much of the conversation this week will center on ways to take advantage of this.

As this Constitutional Convention begins, the UAW finds itself at a crossroads. Anti union forces have been running well funded antiunion campaigns against organized labor, thanks to Supreme Court decisions that allow the rich and powerful to channel secret money to defame unions and hurt solidarity. This allows the rich and powerful to wield more control over the lives of the working class. While we can never match their financial power, we do have numbers in our favor- there are many more of us than there are of them. Our challenge will be in harnessing the membership in the single strength of one. This is where the new PRO-Member program comes in.

PRO stands for Participation, Resources and Organizing. The idea is to organize our members to stand in strength against these antiunion forces who seek to destroy us. Much of the conversation this week will focus on PRO-Member and how we can use it to educate and activate our membership. One part of preparing for the next round of national contract talks is a robust strike fund. This week delegates will debate and vote on a proposed dues increase to help boost the strike fund. There hasn’t been a dues increase since 1967 and the need to increase the strike fund has facilitated the discussion now.

Monday will feature the opening ceremonies and official seating of delegates. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will address the convention along with Volkswagen Global Group Works Council General Secretary Frank Patta. IndustriALL President Berthold Huber will receive the Social Justice Award and UAW President Bob King will present his State of the Union address. Check the Region 8 website today  for detailed information as the 36th Constitutional Convention begins.

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