Despite rising concerns over sagging membership and squabbles within the labor movement, several unions have voted to stand behind existing leadership. At recent conventions held by the ironworkers, plumbers and boilermakers, union members reelected key officers to carry them through turbulent times.
The top brass at the International Association of Bridge, Structural Steel, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers ran uncontested at the union’s 41st convention in Washington, D.C., Aug. 14-18. Joe Hunt remains general president of organization with Michael Fitzpatrick as general secretary and Walter Wise as general treasurer.
Hunt recognized the need for new thinking to grow the ironworkers union, noting that without improved organizing it would continue to lose density over the next decade. Meanwhile, the union itself is trying to stand firm within the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO – an organization that three unions have left in recent years.
In the face of these challenges, Hunt promised union members that he and other existing leaders would deliver new solutions.
“A union willing to accept the status quo is a union that is doomed to failure,” he said during his opening remarks to the convention. “As delegates to this convention we have difficult choices to make. I am here to tell you that the iron workers cannot and will not stand still.”
United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters gave a vote of confidence to William Hite, electing him general president at UA’s 37th general convention Aug. 8. Hite was appointed president in 2004 after Martin Maddaloni was forced to resign as union president in the face of a pension scandal. Patrick Perno, who replaced Thomas Parchell as general secretary-treasurer in the wake of the controversy, was officially elected to his post at the convention.
Hite faced off in the election against Tommy Preuett, who ran on a platform of reform. During the election campaign, Preuett accused Hite of giving Maddaloni and Parchell “golden parachutes” following the scandal. Under an agreement, the two ousted bosses were given salaries and benefits through 2006.
The boilermakers union also voted to continue support of its fledgling leadership at the 31st consolidated convention of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, July 24-27. Newton Jones was elected to his first full-term as international president. Jones filled the seat vacated by Charles Jones in 2003. William Creed also was elected to his first full term as international secretary-treasurer since taking over the post following the departure of Jerry Willburn in December 2005.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will have a chance to cast its vote for future leadership at the union’s 37th convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Sept. 8-15.
(Photo top courtesy of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, middle by ENR and bottom courtesy of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers)