...from the Hall

News of the Union, Local 237

December 10, 1998


UPIU To Merge With OCAW

On Monday, December 14th, 1998, Local 237 members will vote to elect a delegate to attend (with the President) a Special Convention of the International, to be held in Las Vegas on January 4th and 5th, 1999. The nature of this convention will be to consider a merger with the Oil, Chemical, & Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW).

The delegates to the convention will represent their respective locals and vote on approval of the merger. With that in mind, I encourage the members to offer guidance to the delegates on how Local 237 should vote on the merger. This will be done at the regular union meetings on the 14th and 28th of this month — members are encouraged to attend one of these meetings and voice their opinions.

Below is an outline of the changes in the constitution and how they will affect the members.

The new union will be known as the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers International Union (PACE).

Committees (Constitution, Resolution, Credentials, and Appeals) to regular conventions shall consist of 2 elected delegates from each of the 11 regions. Previously these committee members were appointed.

The current 11 regions of UPIU will, over time, be merged into 8 regions (ours is not effected).

Roger Heiser, our current regional vice-president, will become co-director and share duties with Bill McGovern of OCAW. Roger will take over as sole director on McGovern’s retirement.

The new International will have a Rank-And-File Advisory Board to consult with and advise the International Executive Board. This is a new means of representation. Members of the Rank-And-File Advisory Board will be elected at the constitutional conventions, one (plus an alternate) from each region. The current OCAW delegate will serve in that position until the next regular convention in 2003.

Dues will gradually be increased so as to constitute 2 hours pay at the Average Straight Time Hour Earnings (ASTHE) for each local. The formula for increasing the dues is rather complicated. Calculations for our local show that it would take about 50 years (assuming 3% wage increases) to get to 2 hours pay per month. Greater amounts of money will allow the International to invest more in organizing more plants and areas.

Those are the highlights of the major changes. There are other minor procedural changes that won’t be fully realized until they’re "seen in action." The normal avenues for changes still exists, so we can alter what doesn’t work.

Reading some of the words of those who offer criticism of the merger lead one to believe that the major areas of contention are the dues increases (the proposed formula was rejected for UPIU at the last convention) and the fact that the International Officers are going to get an additional three years in office without having to go through an election (they would have faced election at the 2000 convention - they might still if the merger is rejected).

The benefits of the merger are that we will become a larger, more powerful union with the clout to change things more to our benefit. We will also have a more representation on the International Executive Board. Further, we will have the diversity and wherewithal to further our common goals, through organizing and affecting political change.

There is probably more that can be said here, it’s a big change after all, but time and space limit the possibilities. There is no doubt that members of our union can find more to debate on this proposal.

Come to the meetings on the 14th and 28th and share your thoughts on this momentous change. Or sit on the sidelines and let someone else make decisions for you. It up to you.

See ya’ there.


Chuck Whitt


UPIU - Local 237

Tacoma, Washington

1998, Chuck Whitt

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