Delegates Direct Major Focus on Organizing

Delegates to the 2022 Constitutional Convention redoubled the USW’s commitment to organizing Tuesday, passing resolutions to fuel union drives across broad swaths of the economy and raise the USW’s profile as a “growing, progressive union” that “helps people change their lives by unionizing.”

“People want more power. They want more of a voice. They want more opportunity,” International President Tom Conway said, referring to the surging demand for union representation amid a pandemic that’s shown workers how much they need the protections and benefits of organized labor.

Union election petitions filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board skyrocketed 58 percent in recent months. At the same time, unfair labor practice charges shot up 16 percent, reflecting employers’ efforts to thwart organizing drives at any cost.

In one resolution, “Organizing for Strength,” delegates called on the USW to fight relentlessly against so-called right-to-work laws, union-busting campaigns and other attacks on workers’ rights while also marshaling the union’s resources to build density in core and emerging industries.

The resolution put a stamp of approval on Conway’s plan, announced in April, to recruit and train dozens of members for grassroots, worker-to-worker organizing in both countries. It also directed the USW to support local union organizing committees, build new alliances with community allies and widely promote the advantages of union membership.

“If everybody knew what this union is, it would be ‘Everybody’s Union,’” said Martin L’Abbée, USW staff representative and member of Local 9584 in Quebec, one of 20 delegates who rose to speak in support of the resolution.

In a second resolution, “Honoring Our Past and Present While Building the Next Generation,” delegates laid the groundwork for growing the union through the USW NextGen program, the AFL-CIO’s Next Up initiative and the young workers committee at the Canadian Labour Congress.

And in a third resolution, “Environmental Responsibility: Acting Today to Protect USW Jobs Now and in the Future,” delegates directed the union to support “all current generating options for electric utilities” while also reaching out to workers in wind, solar and other emerging industries.

These efforts will build on the USW’s recent organizing successes, which include welcoming prison chaplains, baristas, university professors, professional football players and tire industry workers, among thousands of others, into the union. Delegates watched a video recounting how workers at Kumho Tire in Macon, Ga., overcame the company’s brutal anti-union campaign to join the USW.

“The good guys always win in the end,” declared Alex Perkins, a leader of the Kumho drive.

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