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June 4, 2014

Day Three 36th UAW Constitutional Convention
By UAW Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

Delegates to the 36th Constitutional Convention were greeted with balloons and banners as this day is reserved for electing your International Executive Board. This includes the President, Secretary Treasurer, Vice-Presidents and Region Directors. This day the delegates will elect the leadership to serve this membership over the next four years. With President Bob King and Vice-Presidents Joe Ashton and General Holifield retiring there will be new leaders for our great union.

The first speaker of the day was Unifor President Jerry Dias. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with over 300,000 members in virtually all sectors of the workplace, including manufacturing.  “We deserve a middle class job,” President Dias stated. “You can’t buy a house on $15 an hour, you can buy a car on $15 an hour, and you can't live the middle class life on $15. If the CEO’s of these companies can make millions a year our members can make a living a wage. The auto workers didn’t cause this economy meltdown the heads of the banks at Wall Street did. It is time we stop paying for their mistakes. I am from Canada but I see what your politicians say about workers. In South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley says they don’t want any companies there that have relationships with unions. I say to the Haleys and Corkers of the world they can kiss my union ass.”

“Everywhere we see young adults finishing college saddled with thirty, forty up to fifty thousand dollars in debt,” President Dias stated. “We told these kids, go to college, work hard and there will be a job waiting on you. This hasn’t happened as they leave college with no job available. We have to build an economy that works for all. Workers need a job that provides a path to the middle class. Walter Reuther knew this- he advocated for this we have to continue his work. We owe it to the next generation. At the end of the day they will know us because we will be holding our union cards,” Dias concluded. Click here for more on President Dias's speech

The morning also saw Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune addressing the convention. The Sierra Club was founded by conservationist John Muir in 1892. They have a long standing tradition of being at the forefront of environmental issues. “The UAW and the Sierra Club have a long history of working together,” Brune stated. “In 1945 the UAW began the push for emission standards for vehicles that are more environmental friendly. The UAW was the group that bailed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. out of jail in Birmingham, and then helped cover the cost for the March on Washington. It was the UAW that supported the first Earth Day both through donations and participation. It was the UAW that rallied against apartheid and when Nelson Mandela visited the United States one of the first stops he made was at the UAW to thank President Owen Bieber. You have always been on the leading edge of progressive causes and salute your efforts. We at the Sierra Club have gained many members through our association with the UAW and we thank you.

Today the Sierra Club are with you on the right to bargain. We believe that bargaining is the key to building the middle class. We are facing so many issues that we collectively have to fight. The forces against us are organized and we must be. We thank you for your support and you can always count on ours.” Click here for more on Director Burne's speech

The convention continued with resolutions on health and safety in the workplace, health and family, diversity and equal opportunity, trade policy and human rights.

Retiring IEB Board members were recognized including former Region 3 Director Moe Davidson, Vice-President General Holifield, Vice-President Joe Ashton and President Bob King.

Following which the nominations for the International Executive Board were made. For the office of Secretary Treasurer UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel was nominated. For the office of Vice-President, current UAW Vice Presidents Cindy Estrada and Jimmy Settles were nominated, along with UAW Region 1C Director Norwood Jewell. Michael Maddox of Region 8 was nominated to fill the vacancy on the Board of Trustees. Gary Casteel, Cindy Estrada, Jimmy Settles, Norwood Jewell and Michael Maddox were elected by acclamation due to no other nominations for their respect offices.

Following the election there was a receiving line for the candidates, afterwards each region convened to hold region director elections.

In Region 8 the delegates convened to elect a new Regional Director, as former Director Gary Casteel had just been elected UAW Secretary Treasurer. Secretary-Treasurer Casteel was on hand to conduct the election on behalf of the International Union. The floor was opened for nominations, with Assistant Director Ray Curry being nominated. No other nominations were made and the delegates unanimously voted Ray Curry UAW Region 8 Director. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve and I view it as a great opportunity,” Director Curry stated. “What we collectively have is opportunity. Opportunity to build this union; opportunity to grow the middle class; opportunity protect the working class; opportunity to defend the weak; and opportunity to build a better region, nation and world. In life we are presented with opportunities to help others and do the right thing. It is our time to do the right thing and together we will make a difference.”

The day ended with delegates and distinguished guest welcoming Director Curry into his new job. The convention stands adjourned until 9:00 AM on Thursday.

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