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Rising like a sunburst against a royal blue and goldenrod backdrop, the yellow UAW logo shone brightly inside Cobo Hall, mirroring the Motor City’s unseasonably warm temperatures outside.
About 1,500 delegates, alternates and guests gathered for the 2007 UAW Special Convention on Collective Bargaining, held March 27-28 in Detroit, to discuss issues crossing all industries and sectors of the union. The purpose of the two-day event: to examine issues as they affect our active and retired members, and set the agenda for how we will negotiate contracts over the next four years.
The convention’s theme, “Forging Our Future,” was clear with large banners such as “Fighting for economic and social justice” and “Health care should be a right not a privilege,” adorning the hall walls.
Key issues in the upcoming round of collective bargaining include jobs, temporary and contingent workers, bargaining rights, investments, wages and compensation, health care and pensions, workplace safety, quality of life programs, democracy and fairness, and social responsibility.
In his keynote address, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger emphasized, “What unites us as a union is stronger than what divides us.”
Not forgetting the past, Gettelfinger acknowledged several retired IEB members who were in attendance, including UAW President Emeritus Owen Bieber, former Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks, former Vice Presidents Gerald Bantom, Ernest Lofton, Stan Marshall, Richard Shoemaker and Marc Stepp; former Region 2B Director Jack Sizemore and former Region 10 Director Bob Vicars.
On the final day, delegates from 850 locals across the United States and Canada passed the 103-page comprehensive resolution, which will help guide the efforts of local and national bargaining committees in the months and years ahead.
The UAW is scheduled to open contract negotiations in July with U.S. auto companies. Contract talks in aerospace, agricultural implement, health care, higher education and other industries are also on the agenda.