Last week, UAW 4121 delegates participated in the 38th UAW Constitutional Convention that brought together UAW members across all regions and sectors. Building on years of organizing, and guided by our collective priorities established through ongoing work within our working groups, membership meetings, 1-to-1 organizing, and more, here are some highlights of the historic measures that we passed to strengthen our union and further our commitments to social justice. To get involved with building upon any of these areas within our own Local, or if you have any questions, email email@example.com.
Officially recognized Higher Education as a sector of the UAW
In a unanimous decision, delegates voted to enshrine Higher Education as a UAW sector in our International Constitution, joining sectors like auto and aerospace manufacture, technical and office work, gaming, and more. Paired with a far-reaching organizing resolution with an emphasis on strong organizing, this change demonstrates a continued commitment to supporting organizing in higher education, from organizing non-unionized groups and bolstering organizing within existing unions to strengthening coordination between higher ed locals across the country. This also demonstrates that as a UAW, we will continue to expand our organizing across many sectors to strengthen our solidarity and power. For instance, we can imagine a fully organized pipeline from higher ed research that develops new battery technologies all the way to the final production of electric vehicles in auto plants.
Committed to member-driven organizing across sectors
Recognizing the vital need to organize in order to build back union density and industrial power, delegates voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution to commit greater resources to new organizing drives across all industries: “Our task in organizing is massive. In the auto industry alone there are hundreds of thousands of non-union workers. To succeed we need aggressive, creative, worker-driven, industry-wide organizing strategies.” Delegates also voted to constitutionally require all local unions to have standing Organizing Committees.
Established Region 6, a new West Coast region
In recognition of recent organizing successes, including 1,500 UW Research Scientists and Engineers, 1,500 WSU Academic Student Employees, and 17,000 UC Student Researchers, delegates voted unanimously to codify a new region of Western States, Region 6, into the Constitution. With this new region, UAW 4121 members can expand efforts to support more workers in forming unions, win progressive political reforms across Washington and neighboring states, build ambitious contract campaigns across industries in Washington, and expand coordination with West Coast locals in all sectors. At the convention’s Region 6 breakout session, Mike Miller (a founding member of UAW 2865 at the University of California) was the sole candidate nominated for Regional Director.
Codified direct elections in the UAW Constitution
Following last fall’s historic referendum of UAW members to institute direct elections for UAW International Executive Board (IEB) Officers, delegates voted to enshrine direct elections in the UAW constitution. Delegates also passed rules to govern future elections, requiring that only UAW members can contribute to campaigns and suspending the convention rules to pass a rare amendment from the floor that sets a $2,000 ceiling on individual giving. In advance of this fall’s elections for IEB Officers, nominations were also made for all IEB candidates.
Increased strike pay, starting on day one
Delegates voted to approve increasing strike pay to $400 per week and to begin accruing strike pay on day 1 of the strike. Previously, strike pay was set at $275/week, and only began accruing on day 8. These measures will support UAW members in holding the line when employers withhold wages during strikes. For instance, in a two-week strike like our 2001 ASE recognition strike, accruing strike pay on day 1 would have dramatically increased the funds available to striking workers.
Delegates also debated increasing strike pay an additional $100 dollars per week, but ultimately decided against it in order to ensure long-term viability of the strike fund. Several massive contract negotiations are coming up in the next year, with 100,000 to 200,000 UAW workers likely relying on credible strike threats and potentially needing to go on strike in order to secure fair contracts. Many delegates on the convention floor noted that sustaining these kinds of large strike actions – in addition to many potential smaller strikes – relies on ensuring the strike fund as a whole remains strong, both now and into the future. Delegates additionally discussed the interconnections between credible strike threats, new organizing, and building power. For instance, expanding the strike fund is a direct function of expanding organizing and membership. Organizing new members builds our collective power in multiple ways, and is at the core of the power we’re able to bring to any campaign, inside or outside bargaining.
Passed resolutions building towards a more just society
Delegates voted to support measures such as single payer health care, fighting climate change through green jobs and a just transition, protecting voting rights, and advocating for progressive immigration reform – including measures that would improve visa rules for international scholars with families. Furthermore, delegates voted to further UAW’s commitment to gender justice, including ensuring the UAW Constitution uses gender neutral language throughout, continuing the fight for reproductive rights, pay equity, and more. These resolutions towards social justice are particularly important given the surge of attacks on trans people, reproductive rights, and more around the country. They ensure that our union is actively affirming and welcoming diverse individuals, and proactively building just futures inclusive of everyone.