Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
January 2017
New Year, Old Struggle

Two events happened in the last week that we want to bring to your attention: Martin Luther King day was last Monday and the Inauguration of President Donald Trump was on Friday.

There will be much to say about the presidency of Donald Trump in the coming years. For today, we'll focus on MLK Day, a celebration of someone who was a friend to labor.

We want to welcome the members of Bull's Eye Credit Union to the newsletter with a win on their latest contract. And don't forget to get next month's Membership meeting on your calendar!

Martin Luther King, Labor Activist
Martin Luther King is most known and celebrated for his work as a civil rights leader. But he knew that the fight for racial equality was inextricably bound up in the fight for economic equality. He worked closely with Unions throughout the civil rights campaigns. In 1961 he said to the AFL-CIO 4th Constitutional Convention:

" Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community."

Unions haven't always been open to the issue of civil rights, but that change with the first black union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. After that point, Unions and Civil Rights leaders began to work together. Much of Dr King's work had as much to do with economic rights as it did civil rights. What we now know as "The March on Washington" where Dr King gave his "I have a dream" speech was originally called "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." It was organized by A. Philip Randolph, who had worked on behalf of unions for more than 40 years.

When Dr King was in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, it was to support African American sanitation workers in their fight for better pay and working conditions. While there, he spoke at a rally to support the workers:
" One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant. All labor has dignity."

He went back to Memphis to again march with the striking Sanitation workers. It was there, fighting for workers' as well as civil rights, that he was assassinated on April 4th.

It seems as if today we've lost sight of the fact that those who fight against labor and unions are the same people who fight against civil equality. The cries to "build a wall" are as much about racial fear as they are about economic insecurity. As Union members, it's vital that we remember our history, remember that Unions and the fight for economic equality and civil equality are inextricably linked.

In the past, the training that Rosa Parks had in worker organizing at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee served her well  when it came time for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Today, will we offer the same support to our generation's leaders in the fight for equality? With the just - inaugurated administration, attacks on both workers' and civil rights seem inevitable. Here again, we can learn from what Dr King said to the AFL-CIO:

"... the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and antilabor propaganda from the other mouth."

It’s a new year, but our struggle remains the same. Unions fought that twin-headed creature in the past and we'll continue fighting it today. The battle for economic justice is the battle for civil justice, and we don’t forget that.

Held at the Union Office

This is the IBEW Union Building: 701 Watson Ave, Madison WI 53713

We meet in the conference room one floor up from our Local's offices.

PS - Membership Meeting in February
The Union succeeds through everyone's efforts. This is another way you can stay involved in democracy! Please join us next month, February 15th at 5:30 PM.

  • Unit Updates
  • Financial Updates
  • Update on Merger with Local 95
  • Executive Board Nominations / Election

Positions up for election this year are:

  • President
  • Recording Secretary
  • Trustee 2
  • Trustee 3
Other News Around the Union
Bull's Eye Credit Union
Welcome to the members of Bull's Eye Credit Union! They recently bargained and ratified a new 3 year contract. A big thanks to membership for giving valuable feedback during negotiations and to staying strong as a unit. Thank you to Holly Schultz and June Kubisiak, the unit chairs, for all their hard work.
Board Elections

Our Executive Board stood for re-election at the last Membership Meeting. The members of the Executive board whose terms were ending volunteered to continue serving. No other challengers stepped forward thus those who were nominated agreed to continue in their positions.

If you want to be a part of the Union's Executive Board in the future, contact the Union Office and express an interest.

Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

February 15th, 2017
May 18th, 2017
August 16th, 2017
November 15, 2017

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both companies and politicians.
Unions = Gym Membership
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff.  These are called Weingarten Rights.
An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.
You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview.  Management does not have to remind you of this right.  If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer.  Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed.  If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Local 39 Union Offices
701 Watson Ave
Ste 102
Madison WI 53713