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Day Three Report From the 37th International
Union Constitutional Convention

by UAW Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

Day three of the 37th International Constitutional Convention opened at 9:00 AM with resolutions being the first thing on the agenda.

Trade Policy

The first resolution of the day concerned trade policy. Unfair trade policies have decimated many workplaces and communities and were a major topic in the 2016 presidential election. Despite election year promises, we know that trade is here to stay. In this interconnected world, the issue we need to focus on is not whether one is “for” trade or “against” trade, but what form it will take and who will benefit. The UAW supports trade that works for working people as oppose to trade that benefits global capital. The UAW supports the following action in trade policies.

  • Recognition and protection, through strong and effective enforcement mechanisms, of global labor rights.
  • Mechanisms to preserve and expand U.S. manufacturing employment.
  • Enforcement of strong environmental standards.
  • Meaningful and enforceable provisions to present currency manipulation by our trading partners.

The UAW will continue to fight for fair trade agreements that include these items:

  • Fighting to renegotiate all harmful trade agreements.
  • Fight for Trade Adjustment Assistance, job training and health care for displaced workers.
  • Fight to reduce crippling trade deficits that have led to the loss of millions of good jobs.
  • Fight for strong Rule of Origin standards that strengthen domestic manufacturing jobs in the United States.
  • Fight to strengthen enforcement of our trade laws.
  • Fight to preserve and strengthen Buy American laws to strengthen domestic manufacturing and create U.S. jobs.
  • Fight for enforceable measurers to guard against currency manipulation to address a wide spread problem that has cost millions of U.S. jobs.

After debate the resolution was passed by the delegates of the convention.

Promoting Union-Made and Made in the USA Products and Services

The next resolution concerned promoting union made and made in the U.S.A. products and services. More and more U.S. companies are exercising ethical choices when it comes to purchases. From the environment to child labor to testing on animals, there are a host of issues that can affect a purchasing decision.

The labor movement was an early advocate of ethical consumerism through our promoting of the union label. The UAW supports the following ideas to broaden the interest in buying “union label”:

  • Incorporate the BuildingBuyUSA programs of Union Label Standing Committees.
  • Include the discussion of ethical and consumerism and union label in new member orientation throughout our union.
  • In addition to the annual UAW vehicle guide, make available accurate and current list of UAW made products and services.
  • Through collective bargaining, increase efforts to place a “union label” on the products made by members.
  • Support legislation that strengthens labeling laws.
  • Ban sweatshop produced good from our union hall, union events and union sponsored sports teams.
  • Publicize and support consumer boycotts endorsed by the UAW and AFL-CIO.

Following debate, the resolution passed.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addressed the convention. Richard L. Trumka is president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO and is an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice. The UAW is on the side of history,” President Trumka said. “From Walter Reuther standing with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and again in the 1990s when Owen Beiber stood with Nelson Mandela in the fight to end apartheid.

Today the UAW still stands for social justice and economic fairness and you take the message that workers have rights. You have fought the good fight and you won some and lost some. In Canton, Mississippi you stood with workers at Nissan who faced threats and intimidation. But those who threatened those workers should know that you will be back, again and again.

Those of us in labor know we have the power in America. We build the cars, we teach the classes and we bake the bread. It is labor that tucks America in at night.”

UAW President gave his farewell address to the delegates. With teary eyes he talked about the early years in Rock Island, Illinois and running for union office. “A member there stopped me and gave me a book that said the best leaders are those who listen,” President Williams stated. “I often think about that. I have seen struggles as member and an official.  My heart will always be with our brothers and sisters at Caterpillar, as they fought corporate greed. During that campaign I lost many friends through heart attack and suicide.

Together we have struggled together brothers and sisters and we did the hard things but the right things. We can’t everything give up the fight. I appreciate the support you have given me as together we worked to do the right things. I will leave here tomorrow as a retiree and I hope to spend a lot of time at Black Lake talking to all of you. After all, the union isn’t Solidhouse, it isn’t contracts, it isn’t the song Solidarity, the union is you. Thank you for allowing me to serve.”

In addition to debating and passing resolutions to the UAW Constitution, the convention is also used to elect the International Executive Board. This election cycle finds several retiring from the IEB. President Williams is retiring after 40 years of dedicated service to our union and its members. Secretary Treasurer ( and former UAW Region 8 Director) Gary Casteel is retiring after 23 years of service to UAW members. UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles is retiring after 26 years of service. These great leaders will be missed.

Nominations were taken from the floor for the following offices:

  • International UAW President
  • International UAW Secretary Treasurer
  • (3) International Vice Presidents
  • (2) International Union Trustees

After nominations where complete the convention moved to a roll call vote for the International UAW Officers. The roll call vote continued until each office received a majority of the votes.

Once the voting was complete the following officers were elected:

  • International UAW President Gary Jones
  • International UAW Secretary Treasurer Ray Curry
  • (3) International Vice Presidents
    • Cindy Estrada
    • Terry Dittes
    • Rory Gamble
  • (2) International Union Trustees
    • Roger Mark Wunderlin
    • Heather Keag

Following the elections for the International Officers, regions broke individual rooms to conduct regional elections. With the election of Region 8 Director Ray Curry to International Secretary Treasurer, the office of Region Director was vacated. Mitchell Smith of UAW Local 882 of Atlanta, Georgia was nominated as Region 8 Director. Brother Smith was elected as the new Director of UAW Region 8 by acclimation. Retiring International Union Secretary Treasurer Gary Casteel conducted the election for the International Union.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as your director,” Mitchell Smith stated. “I was lucky enough to be mentored by both Gary Casteel and Ray Curry. Both of these men have worked to get our region to where it is today and it is my goal to build on the success they have begun. I promise you we will work with you – through the good times and the bad times this region will always be there. Thank you all for your support and I look forward to working with every local in this region for the advancement of our membership.”

 

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