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June 17, 2010

Click Here For Thursday's Photo Gallery

Remarks from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

UAW President Bob King's Remarks to the Convention


Thursday schedule of events:

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June 17, 2010

Day 4 Report from the 35th International UAW Constitutional Convention
text and photo by Region 8 Webmaster John Davis with assistance from the UAW PR Department

The final day of the 35th International UAW Constitutional Convention began with the installation of new officers. It has been said the passing of generations is both a time of joy and a time of sorrow. While we look toward the future, saying farewell to our retiring officers was sad. President Ron Gettelfinger has led this union through some of our most difficult times. He did so methodically and carefully, making tough calls and looking toward the future.

When the time came, President Ron Gettelfinger and former President Owen Beiber joined together as the oath of office was read. Then the newly elected International Executive Board raised their hands and was installed as the leadership of the UAW.

Following the installation of officers the delegates went back to work debating and voting on resolutions to the UAW Constitution.

The proceedings paused pay tribute to the late Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for the underprivileged and downtrodden.  Even though he was born into privilege, Senator Kennedy believed that to those who much was given, much was expected – and much he delivered. For years he fought for health care for all and died just weeks before it was passed into law. The UAW posthumously presented Senator Ted Kennedy with the Social Justice Award.

President of the NAACP Ben Jealous addressed the convention following an introduction by UAW Vice-President General Holiefield.  President Jealous is the youngest person to hold the title of President and CEO of the NAACP and on behalf of the NAACP he expressed his thanks to the UAW for their tireless efforts on Civil Rights. “The UAW has always been at the forefront of fighting for civil rights and we thank you for your hard work. In 2008 the UAW helped the country’s first African-American President. You have been there for the human rights of all people over and over again. Brothers and sisters we must work for human rights for all.”

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis addressed the convention next. Secretary Solis was named as the Secretary of Labor in February 2009, following four terms as the Congressional Representative of the 32nd District of California. “It is indeed a pleasure to be here with you today and I bring greetings on behalf of the President,” Secretary Solis stated. “I grew up in a union household. My father was a union stewart for the teamsters and I learned at an early age the benefit of growing up in a union household. I know the UAW has been through a lot with the recession. Companies that you represent have been hit hard with the economic downturn. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has helped to stimulate the economy – the President would still liked to see more new jobs and we are still working toward that. We need better working place safety. The tragic deaths of the miners in West Virginia this year are proof of this. Together we can rebuild this economy and in a manner where workers share in the prosperity.”

UAW Local 5285 President Ricky McDowell addressed the convention, bringing the delegation up to speed on the events that have been taking place at the Freightliner Assembly Plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina. Under the direction of Gary Casteel, the heavy truck operations in the Carolinas have seen many organizing victories. The local contract for Local 5285 called for Freightliner to build a minimum of 70% of the North American production in Mount Holly. Freightliner moved their volumes to Mexico and laid off most of the workers at Mount Holly. “We began calling our customers and letting them know the trucks they were receiving we coming from Mexico,” President McDowell stated. “We called our local electric company and told them and let them know no one from Mexico used their electricity. The next day they called Freightliner and told them they only wanted trucks made in the United States. We also contacted Coke-a-Cola and they agreed they wanted only trucks made in the U.S... Vice-President General Holiefield and Region 8 Director Gary Casteel supported us 100% and we forced Freightliner to bring the production back with the help of the customers.” In addition the members at Local 5285 won their case before the arbitrator. The ruling showed that Freightliner had violated their contract and ordered them to restore lost wages because of the layoffs due to the move of production.

Next came the address by newly elected President Bob King. “In an area close to my heart when I was regional director, no group was more enthusiastic than IPS (Independents, Parts and Suppliers) workers,” said King.

“It touched me because they had so much less. I want to express on behalf of this team that we are going to come up with new and innovative strategies, and we’re going to call on the membership like we never have before,” he said.

“We are understanding more than ever before,” he continued, “that we are one union, that we are one society, and if we don’t stand up and fight for our own membership in every sector and for all workers of the world, and for fair wages and benefits, they’re going to try to run away from our organized shops and our great contracts,” said King.
King told the delegates that he’s an idealist, and that the future can bring what seems now difficult to achieve.

“We’re not going to accept anyone telling us that any dream is impossible,” he said. “We are going to be dreamers, optimists, idealists. We are going to be the sowers of the seeds of economic justice in America.”
(click here for more of President Bob King’s speech)

The convention continued with delegates debating and voting on resolutions:

Civil and Human Rights – Delegates approved a resolution that reaffirms the UAW’s commitment to adequate training and funding for civil rights law enforcement and continue to support advancement in affirmative action, equal pay for women, and prevention of sexual harassment, hate crimes, HIV/AIDS and discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I ask that we stay committed to equality and nondiscrimination throughout the workforce,” said delegate Timothy Williams of UAW Local 549, who rose in support of the resolution, “and that the UAW continue its civil rights education throughout the membership.”

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Delegates approved a resolution to maintain, enforce and strengthen the standards of the FLSA. Workplace protection for workers must be kept in place, including a basic level of pay in the form of minimum wage, discouraging excessive extra hours worked and paying suitable overtime when working over 40 hours a week. “FLSA and the UAW mean exactly the same thing. That’s what we do,” said delegate George Root of Local 494.

Protecting Our Pensions – Delegates approved a resolution that will give working families more security in retirement. The resolution encourages a national retirement policy that recognizes the benefits of defined-benefit pension plans and mandates full disclosure of pension and 401(k) plans. “Without good pensions and retirement plans, you increase the chance of losing your home and not being able to pay your bills,” said delegate Charles Riley, a UAW Local 10 retiree.

The remaining resolutions were bundled and adopted by delegates.

King announces assignments for officers

Following a demonstration on the streets of Detroit, the International Executive Board gathered in a prepared room at Cobo Hall for the announcement of assignments for the International Officers.

The UAW President’s Office, said King, will direct the National Organizing Department, and every UAW officer and member will play a vital role in organizing nonunion workers.

“There is great energy in the UAW,” said King. “We’re going to organize, and we’re going to put a lot of time and energy in it.”

“We want workers to know that they have the right to decide for themselves if they want to be in the UAW or any union,” King added.

The assignments include new directors for the National Ford and General Motors departments, as well as the creation of new departments focusing on organizing efforts in specific industries.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, elected to his first term at the convention, will be responsible for the Accounting Department and related functions, and will direct the union’s Transnational and Joint Ventures, and Agricultural Implement departments.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, elected to a second term, will direct the National Ford, Aerospace, Insurance and Chaplaincy departments.

UAW Vice President General Holiefield, also elected to a second term, will continue to direct the Chrysler, Heavy Truck and Engine, and General Dynamics departments.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, elected to his first term, will direct the General Motors Department and the union’s new Gaming Department.

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, elected to her first term, will direct the Competitive Shop/Independents, Parts and Suppliers (CS/IPS) Department and have responsibility for organizing efforts in the public sector and health care sectors.

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