Union members from all over Nebraska are invited to attend a Workers Summit on Friday, April 6 in North Platte, Neb.
Jim “Doc” Moore, a retired associate professor of labor history at Cornell University’s School for Industrial and Labor Relations, will moderate the meetings at 1 and 5 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Suites, 2102 S. Jeffers St., North Platte, NE 69101.
“The purpose of the labor summit is to unite all the unions and to better inform our members of the issues that are important for our safety and welfare,” said summit organizer Terry Sigler, a retired legislative representative of SMART Transportation Division Local 286 in North Platte.
Topics of discussion will include S. 1451 – the Railroad Advancement of Innovation and Leadership with Safety Act; S. 2360 and HR 233 – the Senate and House versions of the Safe Freight Act and cuts to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s budget.
Strategies about how to mobilize to have union workers’ voices heard will be discussed, and questions from attendees are welcome during the discussion.
SMART TD Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson and Dean Mitchell, SMART TD political consultant of DFM Research in Minnesota, will be among the presenters.

A coalition of labor unions and community groups didn’t take back the Wisconsin state senate from anti-union extremists Tuesday night, Aug. 9, but voters enraged over the extremists’ political agenda did unseat two of the six senators targeted for recall.

“Seeing that we were outspent three-to-one, that recall elections are rare in American politics and that our effort to change the face of the Wisconsin legislature only began a few months ago, contributors to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund can be proud of the accomplishment of unseating two extremists, and, especially, the message the recall election sent anti-union politicians nationwide,” said UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch.

The Wisconsin recall effort began after political extremists in that state legislature voted to curtail public-employee bargaining rights as a first step toward weakening labor-union power.

An anti-union agenda by political extremists in Ohio similarly energized labor and community groups there, culminating in a successful petition drive that puts the political extremists’ anti-union legislation to a direct voter referendum in Ohio in November.

And in Indiana, political extremists abandoned their effort to curtail public-employee collective bargaining rights after the pushback by labor and community groups began in Wisconsin and Ohio.

In all cases, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund played an effective role.

In Madison, Wis., Tuesday, a voter told the Capitol-Times newspaper, “I think the fact that this election is going on right now is a victory in and of itself. We put [the anti-union lawmakers] on the hot seat. I would have liked to have seen us run the table on them, but this is okay for now.”

The UTU’s political consultant, Dean Mitchell, noted that the Wisconsin recall elections are a “test run for organized labor in expanding and improving its get-out-the-vote message and efforts ahead of the 2012 presidential election, where Wisconsin will be one of the swing states. The UTU can be proud that the two senators successfully recalled are from the two voting districts in the state with the most UTU members registered.”

UTU National Legislative Director James Stem said the extremist agenda in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states to privatize schools and weaken labor unions mirrors the efforts of extremists in Congress to fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security, privatize Social Security and Medicare, eliminate Amtrak and destroy organized labor.

 “The situation in Wisconsin allowed the UTU and other labor organizations to fine-tune our communication strategies,” Stem said. “We are very proud of the manner in which our active and retired members responded to our efforts. The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC will continue to spearhead our efforts going forward to protect our collective bargaining rights and defend against these brazen attacks on the middle-class.

“We owe temporary Gov. Scott Walker a debt of gratitude for waking up the middle class to the battle being waged against them,” Stem said. “We will use the lessons learned in the Wisconsin recall to improve our efforts and communications in Ohio and in presidential and congressional elections in 2012.”

Sturdy confirmation of the value of the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund emerged from a Wisconsin vote tally this second week of July – the second of three heats in a race to unseat anti-labor senators in special recall elections.

Wisconsin voters, awakened to and energized against anti-labor efforts of political extremists in their state legislature, cast majority ballots for labor-friendly candidates in primary elections.

The primaries were in advance of Aug. 9 special elections to recall state senators who earlier this year voted to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

As Wisconsin has an open primary and no party registration, the labor-friendly candidates (all Democrats) found themselves pitted against Republican political extremists who entered the Democratic primaries as sham Democrats. They had hoped to win the primaries and assure either their own victory or victory for the incumbents they would face when the recall elections are held Aug. 9. The sham tactics failed.

Indeed, Wisconsin voters knew the difference between the real labor-friendly candidates and the sham candidates because of shoe-leather exertions by union members in Wisconsin. They knocked on doors, handed out educational materials and urged voters to go to the polls. Those successful efforts – as well as the earlier successful petition drive to force the recall elections — were supported by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.

Legislative attacks on organized labor in Wisconsin – duplicated in Ohio, where organized labor’s counter offensive also is proving successful – is part of a more expansive effort among political extremists nationwide to destroy organized labor, fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security, privatize Social Security and Medicare, eliminate Amtrak and starve other public transit operations of funds.

The UTU’s political consultant, Dean Mitchell, said, “The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund made a difference by working with the Wisconsin AFL-CIO on member-to-member communication. UTU members in Wisconsin were contacted through phone calls and special mailings, urging them to vote in the Wisconsin primary. UTU International President Mike Futhey also hosted a town hall meeting via telephone with UTU active and retired members in Wisconsin.

Mitchell has been coordinating a multi-state effort among UTU legislative directors to educate voters to the threat posed by political extremists and to energize UTU members and retirees and their families to be politically active.

That communication effort will be duplicated in advance of the Wisconsin recall elections Aug. 9.

In Ohio, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund helped to fuel a petition drive that put that state’s anti-labor legislation on hold pending a voter referendum in November. The fund is also assisting with efforts in other states to block anti-labor efforts advanced by political extremists.

Activities fueled by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund have spawned media attention, which in turn helps to educate large numbers of middle-class voters to the anti-labor agenda of political extremists.

As evidenced in the Wisconsin primaries, voters are expressing anger with the attacks on organized labor even though many have never belonged to a labor union. They recognize that today’s attacks on labor unions are a prelude to a future attack on the middle class in America.

To learn more about the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, and how to contribute, click on the following link: