“The Constitution of the UAW is the highest law of our union. It provides the foundation for the day-to-day operations of our great union, and equally important, it sets forth the rights, guarantees and responsibilities of all UAW members”. Across the country UAW Locals are working through the process of upholding our Constitution while navigating through the disruption that Covid-19 has inflicted on just about everyone and everything around us. While there is no magic solution for many of the issues this pandemic has caused, with the Constitution as our basis, UAW members across the country are fulfilling their duties to hold fair elections. Patience, strategy, data, and constantly improving education will get us to where we need to be.
It is because of these elections that you will likely see many new faces in our Lansing Labor News, including mine. While I am grateful to the membership of UAW Local 652 for consistently standing with me through my journey as a working class American and Unionist, I would like to take a moment to congratulate my predecessor, Robert Smith, on his retirement. Bob, a proud tradesmen and former bargainer came into this roll during some of the toughest times. As automation, global trade, and corporate greed were changing the landscape of Lansing’s manufacturing scene, many Locals were finding themselves in uncharted waters. If that wasn’t enough, Bob’s term began as the country was nosediving into a recession which rivaled Regan’s Recession and even the Great Depression. Making the decision to serve our members by running for Financial Secretary during these challenges is the description of a servant leader in my book. Bob remained humble during his reports to the membership, it wasn’t until I sat and really looked at where we had been that I understood how his leadership helped to ensure the future of this great Local. It is that same humbleness that will certainly lead to a phone call from Bob, likely full of colorful adjectives concerning my decision to offer praise about his time in this role.
On a serious note, I truly want to thank Bob, the leadership, and the membership for providing me a strong foundation as we continue to do the work necessary to move this great Union forward. In the history of Labor, struggle has always been part of the story. The ability to power through these struggles comes from being educated about the grit and determination of our former Union members. While our members may be tempted to question their faith in this Union due to the lack of integrity by some in our leadership, we must understand that the institution and its cause are still just and good. If anything, these struggles will remind us that elections matter, including our own. We as the membership must stay eternally vigilant to ensure the success of this Union. Education has to stay at the forefront of everything we do. Lastly, we must push each other to uphold the Constitution of this Union as we work to advance the promise of the labor movement in this country and around the world.