Michigan Rep. Andy Levin Lauds Retiring USW President Gerard

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., has an unusual retirement gift for departing Steelworkers President Leo Gerard: No new NAFTA without strong and enforceable worker rights in all three of its countries: The U.S., Canada and especially Mexico.

Of course, Levin knows Gerard better than almost any other lawmaker does: After a long career as an union organizer, capped by a stint as deputy AFL-CIO Organizing Director, the first-termer from Michigan succeeded his pro-worker father Sandy in the U.S. House.

Gerard, president of USW starting in 2001, retired effective July 15, which led Levin to laud him that day in a short House floor speech. Levin called Gerard “a great leader of workers throughout North America and, indeed, the world. Leo rose through the ranks and was a dynamic leader of the Steelworkers for 40 years, and he was president for the last 18 years. He led on so many issues.”

“He was a fierce negotiator for his members, but he was also a leader for all workers. For example, he brought the environmental movement and the labor movement together to tackle tough issues about keeping our water and air clean for everyone and for future generations, while protecting our jobs.”

“But one thing I think stands out. I want to pledge to Leo Gerard on his retirement that we are not going to pass a replacement NAFTA unless it honors the workers of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.  What a great champion for workers in North America. I assure Leo we are going to carry on his work. God bless him.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Members of Local 7798 achieve major goal with workplace violence policy

From the USW

Workers at Copper Country Mental Health Services in Houghton, Mich., obtained wage increases and pension improvements in their contract ratified earlier this year, but the benefit Local 7798 members were most proud of bargaining was language regarding workplace violence.

The contract committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. Work quickly began on the policy, and just last week, the committee drafted and released its first clinical guideline focusing on responding to consumer aggression toward staff.

“We are so excited to have this go into effect,” said Unit Chair Rachelle Rodriguez of Local 7798. “This was a direct result of our last negotiating session.”

The guideline includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly. And though this is just a first step in reducing the incident rates and harm of workplace violence in their workplace, it still is a big one for the local, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a collective bargaining agreement.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work