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UAW Local 974 Members Score Rank and File Victory

by staff |
May 18, 2006
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UAW Local 974, located in East Peoria, Illinois, held an election for delegates to the UAW International Constitutional Convention April 23 at the UAW Local 974 union hall. In a stunning upset for the incumbent caucus, the Members for CHANGE! Group, led by Rob Wilson, won a majority of five delegate positions out of eight.

The Members for CHANGE! candidates elected were George Cornwell, the first shift Grievance Committeeman in building KK; Brian Kerr, the Chairman of the KK Grievance Committee; Rob Wilson, a delegate to the General Council and Alternate Grievance Committeeman; James B. O’Connor, a retiree and former president of UAW Local 974; and Sharon Clarkson, a retiree and longtime UAW activist.

James B. O’Connor, former president of UAW Local 974 stated, “This election is historically a precursor to the general election for executive offices; normally whoever takes these delegate positions are the ones going in next election.”

The Members for CHANGE! team demonstrated a renewed commitment to rank-and-file workers, who turned out in astonishing numbers for the election. The Members for CHANGE team also vowed to build intergenerational solidarity between retirees and the next generation of UAW men and women.

Rob Wilson emphasizes, “Power at the bargaining table comes from an involved, informed, empowered and mobilized membership and community support. Rank-and-file active workers and retirees have made a definite statement, ‘We believe it’s time for change.’”

Local 974 represents approximately 5800 UAW members who are employed by Caterpillar Inc. and workers at amalgamated units Norforge, PMP, Tazewell Machine, and LTD Industries. Local 974 is also the lead bargaining local during negotiations with Caterpillar.

“This is a victory for the membership - active and retired. They won one for themselves, and they deserve and will get all the credit,” said Wilson.

The UAW Constitutional Convention, held every four years, is the highest policy-making body of the union. The Constitutional Convention delegates have the sole authority to amend the UAW constitution, debate and adopt resolutions and define the powers of the International officers.

The Convention comes at a critical time for UAW members. The auto corporations and other employers have lunched big attacks on wages and benefits. Delegates who want to resist these attacks have a vital role to play.