Employer aggression towards employees is certainly nothing new. Corporations exist for one thing and one thing only-profit. But in a true democracy, those we elect to public office have a duty to represent the citizens who elect them. But with so much wealth being concentrated within one percent of the population, and the Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that corporations are people, giving them the right to spend unlimited sums of money in the electoral process, corporations now have a stranglehold over our elected public officials. And through Super PAC’s corporations can tighten that stranglehold anonymously.
That all translates into those elected officials violating their oath of office, and using the full force of their office to repeal and restrict the rights of the working class. So that fight to maintain and improve our livelihoods has moved beyond the bargaining table and into State Houses and our Nation’s Capital.
Corporate America has now hijacked our democracy and is using government as an extension of their reach to push down wages, benefits and working conditions to increase further increase profits.
After the 2010 mid-term elections, it was essential to focus our regional educational conferences on the results of those elections. The vicious ant-union agenda spoon-fed to those newly elected politicians by their corporate bosses and the importance of all our members to fight back through political activism was the central theme through the 2012 and 2014 conferences.
Political activism will always be an essential part of what we do as trade unionists, and union activism it the workplace remains just as essential. With Corporations now becoming puppet-masters of elected officials, their aggression in the workplace has only intensified. And while political education will continue to be a part of our regional educational conferences, the 2016 conferences will focus primarily with arming our Locals with the tools they need to deal with this increased employer aggression.
Those tools include collective bargaining; grievance handling; arbitration; corporate campaigns; internal organizing; time management; community involvement and alliances, as well as financial training. The agenda and workshops are currently being developed and will include many of these tools. Members attending these conferences will go back to their workplaces better equipped to take on the daily challenges that sometimes can seem unsurmountable.
All 2016 regional conferences will be scheduled from Thursday through Saturday, eliminating reimbursement for lost time for the final day of the conference. This cost savings will allow each Local union to send additional members by reducing the cost for lost time reimbursement by one third. In the past, only regions four and five ran through Saturday, now all Local unions will have the opportunity to send additional members due to this cost savings. We will also be going back to combining regions two and three into one conference. This will make for a better attended and more dynamic conference.