Stronger Than Ever–USW Local 3657 Annual Report

AR Cover

From the President

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Sisters and Brothers,

It’s been an incredible year for USW Local 3657 and we are stronger than ever.  In 2013, members of USW Local 3657 stepped up in new and exciting ways to continue to build one of the most energetic and dynamic locals in the entire union, and we won real victories to make the USW a better place to work and make it a stronger union for the 850,000 members across the U.S. and Canada that we have the privilege to serve.

Over the past year, our committees have continued to grow and take action here at work and in our communities; we’ve won and resolved key grievances, protecting the rights and interests of Local 3657 members; and we’ve continued to build solidarity and to solidify our strong organizational foundation for the future.  In the past 12 months, our local union has truly seen an unprecedented level of activism and involvement from an incredible team of members in the building and in the field.

Our local has accomplished an incredible amount in the past year. We launched a groundbreaking new project — Fight Back Pittsburgh — creating a new model for organizing and action in the American labor movement. Our Women of Steel Committee organized a wildly successful “Stuffed Purse” drive, collecting hundreds of purses stuffed with toiletries for our sisters impacted by Hurricane Sandy and other tragedies. Our Civil Rights Committee played a lead role in organizing a 500-person strong march for Immigrant Workers’ Rights in Pittsburgh. And in September our local held our first annual Local 3657 picnic.

We certainly have made incredible accomplishments in 2013, but our work isn’t done.  2014 is going to be an exciting — and busy — year for Local 3657.  In the coming months, we plan on continuing to build off the strong foundation we’ve laid — strengthening our committees, building up Fight Back Pittsburgh, mobilizing around key issues facing our members, and preparing for the 2015 round of contract negotiations.

The USW is a great union and we have great members. Let’s continue to work together to make it a great place to work.

In solidarity,

Patrick Young, President, USW Local 3657

We’re All In This Together

Standing Up for a Better Place to Work

Our Local Union’s top priority will always be standing up to make the United Steelworkers a better, fairer place to work for our members.  In the past year we have created opportunities for Local 3657 members to take advantage of Pay for Knowledge and job performance evaluation programs, earning thousands of dollars in raises for dozens of members.  We have also taken action through the grievance procedure and by organizing and mobilizing at work to enforce our contract.  Our Civil Rights Committee has ignited a new discussion about fairness and civil rights at work, and we have created opportunities for dozens of Local 3657 members to earn significant raises through the Pay for Knowledge program that we won in our last contract.

Movin’ On Up

In the 2012 round of contract negotiations, we won some new improvements allowing Local 3657 members to participate in job training and performance evaluation programs to earn raises and promotions:

 

Earning Promotions Through Job Performance Evaluations — The new contract language allows any Local 3657 member in a Job Class 13 or higher position to request a Job Performance Evaluation to explore whether or not they should be granted a promotion.  If a promotion is not awarded the International is required to work with that member to develop a plan to help lead to a future promotional opportunity.  So far, three 3657 members have participated in this program and all of them have received promotions.

 

A New Horizon With Pay for Knowledge — In the 2012 round of contract negotiations we expanded the Pay for Knowledge program to enable Local 3657 members to earn a 3% raise for earning a Microsoft Office Certification in Word, Excel, or Access, for a total possible increase of 9%.  In an effort to make the program as accessible and convenient as possible, Local 3657 reached out to the local vendor offering training on Microsoft Office products — New Horizons — to schedule classes in Headquarters (and broadcast online live for members in the field).  The program has been wildly successful and after three waves of training, at least 22 members of Local 3657 have passed at least one test and 9 members have passed all three exams, earning the full 9% raise.

Fighting Grievances — And Winning

Over the past year, our local union filed 10 grievances on subjects ranging from unjust discipline to bullying at work.  Our Grievance Committee, CAT Team, Civil Rights Committee and Executive Board have worked together over the past year to aggressively and effectively argue grievances with management, mobilize Local 3657 members to take action in support of our position, and organize educational events about issues that matter to our members.

When management refused to meet with us about a member who felt he was being bullied at work, our CAT Team collected hundreds of signatures on a petition calling on management to meet with us.  Management backed down and agreed to meet with us, resolving the issue.  And when one of our members was illegally denied union representation in a union meeting with management, Local President Patrick Young and Grievance Chair Dianne Babin made a surprise trip to Kentucky to meet face-to-face with that manager and make it clear that we intend to protect our members’ rights to union representation.

Because of the work of our strong team of activists, we’ve been able to resolve the vast majority of grievances that have come up over the past year, and we’re hopeful that we will be able to stand together to win fair outcomes for the handful of grievances that are currently pending.

Local 3657’s Civil Rights Committee has taken bold and exiting new steps to ignite a discussion about bullying, harassment, and fairness in training opportunities and job assignments.  The committee organized an informative workshop on workplace bullying in response to issues facing some of our members in May, and in December the committee organized an excellent and informative training on workplace harassment.  In the New Year, the Civil Rights Committee plans to continue to organize trainings on important workplace justice issues and explore the civil rights implications of department and job assignments at Headquarters.

Building Solidarity—In Headquarters and in the Field

As a local, we worked hard in 2013 to plan a wide variety of events and use a number of strategies to build solidarity among members at the International Headquarters and in the field.

We are proud to boast such a diverse membership, and we’ve tried to bridge the gap by embracing the use of electronic communications. This year, we made greater use of e-mail and web-based communications than ever. Our local e-mail list has grown to more than 270 addresses. If you would like to add your address, contact R.J. Hufnagel at rhufnagel@usw.org.

Our newly upgraded website (USWLocal3657.org) was home to the live-streaming our local meetings, brown-bag discussions and other sessions, as well as the go-to spot for the latest news on our local, and a clearinghouse for important documents, from our contract and bylaws to the minutes of our local meetings. If you need the password, contact Mollie Relihan at mrelihan@usw.org.

Through our regular brown-bag lunches, members had the opportunity to talk about their work, get help with important projects and facilitate discussions on a wide variety of topics, from the dangers of “Right to Work” laws to the potential benefits of comprehensive immigration reform.

Through the work of our New Members Committee, we organized the first of our now bi-annual new employee orientation sessions, in which new members will get to know each other, discover the rich history of our local and international unions, and learn about the many 3657-negotiated benefits that come with working for the USW.

In September, we had a strong turnout at Pittsburgh’s annual labor day parade, and we began what we hope will become a tradition by holding a local union picnic at Pittsburgh’s North Park, complete with a motorcycle ride, as well as food, drinks, games and lots of other fun for local members and their families.

We connected with our brothers and sisters in the field more than electronically by bringing our steward team to Pittsburgh for several days of in-person training sessions and other events. Stewards from each district around the country joined us for general training on grievances and other important day-to-day issues, as well as a session on reporting and addressing workplace harassment. The group also was able to take part in a series of actions at some of Pittsburgh’s low-wage employers, from Dunkin’ Donuts to Duquesne University, in conjunction with a national wave of fast food strikes.

Our stewards’ visit to Pittsburgh also coincided with our local’s annual holiday luncheon, which was a great way to top off yet another great year for our local.

Taking to the Streets!

Local 3657 did not rest on its laurels in 2013.  We marched, organized, danced in the streets and rambled through the United States, leaving our mark in Philadelphia, Fargo, Los Angeles and places in between.  Our Local’s leadership, creativity and initiative should be a point of pride for every member.  Below are a few highlights of Local 3657 ‘taking it to the streets’ in 2013:

 

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Political freedom cannot endure without economic freedom.  This logic is clear today as it was in 1963, when hundreds of thousands of people marched on Washington, D.C., to demand jobs and civil rights.  That message is especially relevant today with voting rights, collective bargaining and the working class under siege.  Civil Rights Committee Co-Chair Doug Ward, his son Ezra, and John Lepley attended the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 24th with two busloads of Pittsburghers.

 

One Billion Rising Eve Ensler, the playwright behind The Vagina Monologues, launched One Billion Rising to demand justice for women and victims of domestic violence.  On February 14th, public spaces across the world, including downtown Pittsburgh, resounded with the dancing and testimony of individuals who proclaimed that violence against women threatens the security and dignity of everyone.  Frigid February weather did not deter the 3657 and Fight Back Pittsburgh members who stood in solidarity with hundreds of other likeminded people.  Be sure to have your hat, gloves and coat ready for another One Billion Rising in February 2014!

 

Fight Back Pittsburgh — Is your boss a jagoff?  Do want a voice in your workplace and neighborhood?  Fight Back Pittsburgh, a project of the United Steelworkers’ Associate Member Program and the 3657 organizing committee, is the place for people who say “yes.”  Since its first meeting in January of 2013, FBP has adopted bylaws, elected officers, formed committees and become a mover and shaker in Pittsburgh.  Its mission is to serve as a community union; to open the doors of the labor movement to anyone who believes that social and economic justice starts at home.  In October, among other things, it organized a Labor Notes ‘Troublemakers School.’

 

AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exposed the twin evils of poverty and racism and dedicated his life to empowering the marginalized.   To honor Dr. King’s memory, the AFL-CIO organizes community service days in which union members contribute their skills and labor to those in need.  On January 17th, Emily Jefferson, Steffi Domike, Bill Eakin, Paulette Battisti and John Lepley joined union members from across the country for a day of service in Philadelphia cleaning and painting a community center.

 

May Day Mobilization for Immigrant Rights — May 1st (‘May Day’) is International Workers’ Day.  Ironically, although this holiday originated in the U.S., the first Monday in September was officially designated ‘Labor Day’ because lawmakers believed it was dangerous to link American workers with the global labor movement.  In recent years, however, immigrant rights supporters have embraced May Day as an occasion to celebrate the international working class.  In conjunction with area unions and community groups, Local 3657 and Fight Back Pittsburgh organized a May Day march that filled Pittsburgh’s South Side with 500+ activists, culminating in a rally that featured music and food from the Caribbean, Mexico and Africa.

Summer of Solidarity — Grassroots, rank and file organizing: that’s the message the Summer of Solidarity tour brought to 17 cities in 13 days.  Working off a budget funded by donations, the Summer of Solidarity organized cultural events, educational programs and actions in each city with local people engaged in struggles.  Whether the issue was contract fights, home foreclosures, banks run amok or attacks on public transit, the Summer of Solidarity itinerary showed that workers are under attack on numerous fronts, and solidarity is the only solution.  To learn more, visit http://www.labornotes.org/2013/06/summer-solidarity-tour-will-connect-grassroots

Looking Forward

         Local 3657 is stronger than ever, but there is still lots of exciting and important work to do.  Some of our top priorities for the next year will be continuing to build solidarity between members in Headquarters and in the field, standing up to ensure that our contract is enforced fairly for all members, and taking action at work and in our community to build power for working people everywhere.

We plan to continue some of the exciting programs that we launched over the past year like our annual picnic and our annual face-to-face stewards meeting at Headquarters.  We will step up our efforts at communicating with members in the field and explore new ways to allow members to remotely participate in our monthly local union meetings and other activities.  And over the next year our committees will continue to mobilize and take action at work and in our communities.

The 2015 round of contract negotiations is just around the corner and this is the time to start preparing for contract negotiations.  Over the next year we’ll be strengthening up our CAT team, surveying the membership to identify key issues and researching possible solutions to address issues facing Local 3657 members.

We’ve accomplished a lot in 2013 and in 2014 we need to build from the strong foundation that we’ve been building and continue to organize, to mobilize, and to stand up for all of our members and for working people everywhere.

The USW is a great union and we have great members.  Let’s continue to work together to make it a great place to work. 

The USW is a great union and we have great members.  Let’s continue to work together to make it a great place to work.

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