My Brothers and Sisters,
We have all been through a year that none of us could have possibly imagined, and I want to begin this message with a note of thanks to my UAW family for their strength and Solidarity in facing a worldwide pandemic that has forever altered all of our lives. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished and I am confident that we will continue to do the hard work to keep one another safe.
We come together today on Workers Memorial Day to recognize and honor all of the UAW family members we have lost to workplace incidents and to the COVID-19 virus. This is always a very special day for our union but in this second year of battling this terrible pandemic, when death and grief feels like it has been with us every day, I think it is even more significant. On behalf of myself and the entire International Executive Board, I want to extend our sympathies and prayers to the families, friends and communities of our fallen brothers and sisters.
Last year at this time, we were in the first few months of dealing with this killer virus. We have learned a great deal since those early days and have put many measures in place as a nation and as a union to protect one another. There have been many milestones and many challenges along the way, but one thing that gives me great pride in our members is how this UAW family stood up and stood together. It is one of the most impressive examples of Solidarity I have ever seen and it is the reason that we have been able to come through this extraordinarily difficult time. And it will be how we continue to work through the coming months as this pandemic continues to challenge and threaten us.
And there’s something else. We all know how important our Health and Safety language is in every contract across all industries. That language and our negotiated safeguards became the cornerstone of this union’s ability to protect our members during this COVID crisis. It is that language that allowed me, the IEB and all of our reps across all regions to hold companies accountable and to say, ‘You will put our members’ safety first above all things as you determine Covid policies and procedures in your facilities.’
It is that language and the strength of this union that allowed us to demand a shutdown last year, to demand stringent safety measures and to hold the companies accountable. If there was ever any doubt that a union workplace is safer than a non-union workplace, I think this past year has more than answered that question.
I want to also recognize our many sisters and brothers who were among the first to step up and help when this crisis hit. Members who volunteered in those early days to go back into the plants when they could have stayed home, to make the life-saving PPE. Members who worked in their communities helping neighbors, making masks, coordinating food banks, organizing efforts to support our front line workers and so much more. UAW members are always among the very first to step up when our nation is in need. It’s just what we do.
So thank you my brothers and sisters for everything you do. God Bless us all.
Rory L. Gamble
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