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UAW President Ray Curry presents Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the Walter P. Reuther Distinguished Service Award
A breakfast tribute to a UAW trailblazer
The day started off with the Odessa Komer Memorial Breakfast hosted by President Ray Curry and Vice President Cindy Estrada. The breakfast was formerly known as the Women’s Breakfast, but the rebranding reflects that this is an occasion for all UAW members to honor one of our union’s trailblazers, Odessa Komer. Lori Welch from Local 598 in Region 1D learned more about this important leader and how she broke through many barriers in her local and the International union. “Like Komer, I believe all UAW members should be active and represented throughout our union. For her it was about giving visibility to women in our union. For me, I want to make sure unions are visible in my community because if unions fail, so does 99% of America.” Welch added that the remarks from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge were also a rallying cry. “She said that as long we have unions, we will always have a nation. She told us that it is time for us to build the nation. I am definitely going to use my hammer and get to work!”
A rousing conclusion to a great week
Day four of the National CAP Conference started off with an attentive crowd being stirred by Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS 2nd). Delegates were surprised by the introduction of a very special speaker: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi warmly commended the UAW and our members and stated her commitment to our cause. After her remarks, President Curry presented her with the Walter P. Reuther Distinguished Service Award for the work she has done on behalf of labor.
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this morning, retiree Ray Davis (a retiree from Local 599 who is now part of Region 8) perked up. He has known about Speaker Pelosi’s support of unions for years and to see her proudly declaring her support of our union was both reassuring and inspiring. “It makes me feel good to know that she will not stop fighting for working people. She knows the importance of fair wages and having a voice on the job.”
For Todd Genaw, a member of Local 889 in Region 1, listening to speakers was a big part of this week’s experience. “Senator Debbie Stabenow is a big advocate of labor in Michigan and I’m glad everyone at the conference got to hear her.” Genaw adds that the work she is doing on an EV tax credit for union-made electric vehicles is a top priority. “We have to support those who support us. It isn’t about your political party, but about your actions,” said Genaw.
On the last day of the conference, Representative Cindy Axne from 3rd district in Iowa spoke about her long relationship with labor and the Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act bill she recently introduced after being inspired by walking the picket line with Deere workers. Trey Durant, shop chair from local 1178 in Region 4, knows that members are often divided politically, but we come together around fairness. “What Axne is saying is the right thing: if workers have a legal right to strike, employers should not be able to punish them for that by taking away their healthcare. I think our members will be energized to know about the work she is doing.”
Plenary ends on a high
The last day of speakers left nothing on the table. Each guest brought perspectives around voting, the mid-term elections, supporting labor, organizing and keeping jobs in our communities. The electrified crowd left eager to go back to their respective locations and share what they have learned. Though the plenary was adjourned, the real work now begins. Onward!
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