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Day One Report 36th UAW Constitutional Convention

By UAW Region 8 Webmaster John Davis
June 2, 2014

The 36th UAW Constitutional Convention kicked off at 10:00 AM on June 2, 2014 at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan. The Convention began with presentation of the colors, pledge allegiance to the flag and the invocation. The International Executive Board was introduced and the retired members of the IEB were recognized.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan welcomed the delegates to Detroit. “Detroit is a union town and we welcome you here,” Mayor Duggan stated. “We have been having hard times in Detroit but the UAW has shown the world that you can emerge from bankruptcy as the UAW has assisted the Detroit automakers in doing so. We welcome you to our city and look forward to working with the UAW for many years to come.”

Next UAW Vice-President Jimmy Settles came forward to present the Owen Beiber Social Justice Award to U.S. Congressman John Conyers. “I am honored to accept this award from your great organization” Congressman Conyers. “My father was a UAW member and I am proud of my family tradition with your organization.”

UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel came forward to introduce Frank Patta, General Secretary of the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council. “I don’t need prepared remarks to introduce someone I know so well,” Director Casteel stated. “Brother Patta has worked with us to bring union representation to the workers at Volkswagen at Chattanooga. I don’t have to tell you about the problems we faced in Chattanooga from the elected officials. That election was stolen- but we will prevail. Brother Patta has stood with us every step of the way and will continue to work with us. It is my pleasure to introduce Frank Patta.

“I want to thank you all for welcoming me here,” General Secretary Patta stated.“I want to thank you all for welcoming me here,” General Secretary Patta stated. “We will continue to stand with the workers in Chattanooga. “I have not seen what happened to workers on the shop floor at Volkswagen ever before,” said Patta. “This was not Volkswagen being active against workers. It was about fighting an attacker from the outside, and in the end fear mongering won the election. I would like to praise the 626 brothers and sisters (at Volkswagen Chattanooga) for their courage and steadfastness,” he told applauding delegates.

Patta says the international focus of the works council is a model that can only help U.S. workers, and that’s why it’s so important the union vote in Chattanooga be won. And it will. “We did not lose the fight,” said Patta. “I promise you we will go on. Our dream is stronger than the resistance of our enemies. We will only rest once our colleagues in Tennessee have the UAW and co-determination. Our (Volkswagen) works council model will spread to the entire South and hopefully far beyond Tennessee and throughout the United States. This is our dream, and our vision is well worth fighting for,” said Patta.

Following the welcome and awards the credentials committee, the rules committee and the resolutions committee presented their reports to the convention. The business of proposing, debating and voting on resolutions began. Resolutions on commitment to workers and human rights as well as resolutions concerning economic justice dominated the morning discussions.

Berthold Huber, President of IndustriALL was awarded the Walter Reuther Social Justice Award for his part in helping build global alliances between world wide labor organizations.

Vice-President Joe Biden spoke to the convention and congratulated the membership of the UAW on saving the American automotive. “When the automotive industry was in trouble you made sacrifices and your sacrifices helped save an industry,” Vice President Biden stated. “It used to be a unwritten contract in this country that if a person shared in the labor to produce a product – they shared in the profit from that. Somewhere along the line we lost that and we must get it back to make sure that workers share in the profit from their labors.”

President King then took the podium to present his state of the union address. “Building power through organizing and adding new jobs in our represented facilities,” President King stated. “By adding more members we build the power we need to succeed. We want to eliminate second tier wages and benefits and the best way to do that is organize our competition. When our competitors have second and third tier wages it forces that on our companies. By organizing these other companies we level the playing field for all workers. The basic right of organized labor is equal pay for equal work and that is what we have to do. We need to do a better job of explaining this to our members so they understand why organizing is important, why a strong strike fund is important, why building alliances with trade unions around the world is important. It is all about building a strong labor movement to protect America’s working families. Click here to read more from President King's State of the Union Address.

You can't fight global corporations, and win, unless you build global solidarity. The amount of power you have determines the amount of justice you get."

While the organizing drives at Nissan and Volkswagen have dominated the press, it is important to remember that from 2010-2014 the UAW has added 22,000 new members. Organizing is never and exact process and one that takes time, but we have seen our share of victories.

The day ended with resolutions concerning the need for jobs and the need to hold our elected officials accountable for their lack of effort on job creation.



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