From all over the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, almost 1000 UAW members converged in National Harbor, Maryland this week for the 2022 UAW National CAP Conference. Just a stone’s throw from the steps of the nation’s capital, the delegates are meeting to learn about the pressing matters of the UAW, get the latest training on lobbying and advocacy as well as the opportunity to raise our issues in front of their elected representatives.
For Jessie Jesson from Local 686 in Region 9, this week is about fighting for the members back home. “The PRO Act is very important to have a level playing field in organizing campaigns. In Region 9, the UAW has a considerable presence in the automotive and big truck market, so naturally we are interested in how the introduction of EVs will impact us. I hope to gather the information needed to carry back to my members as they prepare to vote this fall.”
Similarly, UAW Local 863 President Tod Turner from Region 2B thinks that this week is an opportunity to reconnect with fellow activists and to take back a message to his membership about the importance of voting in the midterms. “There is so much at stake when it comes to issues that affect our members and we have to continue to elect representatives who put the interests of labor first.”
Angela Powell from Local 600 in Region 1A agrees: “I’m ready to learn, lobby and go back and spread the word.” She adds, “the fellowship with other UAW delegates this week is inspiring and gets me ready to do the work this fall.”
UAW President Ray Curry provided the keynote speech on Sunday where he challenged delegates to remember that the duty of a UAW member is to vote: not just in local, state and federal elections, but also in institutional elections. Last fall, our union mailed out 1.2 million ballots for the referendum vote and only 143,000 were returned. Later this year, election ballots will be mailed out again and members must honor their oath and vote to determine our future, he said. Similarly, this November we will have stark choices presented and our members must show up at the polls to support candidates who support our union in federal and state elections.
Our history is full of moments that shape who we are today. President Curry reminded delegates of what could have happened had we not fought to help our major employers like Chrysler restructure. Or what might have happened if we hadn’t elected representatives such as Michigan’s Governor Frank Murphy who remained neutral during the GM Sit-Down Strike. “We do not repeat history by not voting,” he said to applause.
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