It was at our 2009 General Convention where our delegates took the first step on an initiative that is now rapidly reconnecting us to the communities in which we live and work. Community Organizing for Real Economics, or CORE, is a program where our union leaders and members partner with local community groups on projects and initiatives to build a better life for residents living in our communities. The goal is to reintroduce and maintain the IUPAT on the local level as a pillar of the community by partnering with like-minded organizations on shared campaigns, as well as provide career options for local men and women. The result we are working for is strong growth for the IUPAT, and a positive shift in the public perception of our union and the rest of the organized labor movement.
The concept and goals of CORE were created by representatives of various IUPAT district councils who met at the IUPAT Headquarters in Hanover, Maryland. This committee was comprised of representatives of the organizing, political
action and servicing departments in those councils. They shared the best practices of what they do on a local level with their communities, as well as their failures. It was from these frank and productive discussions that they created a plan of action to focus on five primary goals for CORE:
- Battle the underground economy in construction
- Fight to maintain affordable housing in urban development
- End income inequality and its effect on our industries and communities
- Enact and lobby for industry standards in our work to protect the environment
- Wage campaigns to fight discrimination and promote civil and human rights
I am pleased to report that dedicated members and leaders of the IUPAT in different parts of the United States and Canada have already held successful campaigns and programs under CORE, and such initiatives are growing in numbers by the week. I want to personally thank our fellow members in those areas for dedicating their time, skill and hearts to put CORE into motion.
As I write this article, we are planning one of the most ambitious events this proud union has ever undertaken as a part of our CORE program. On Saturday, April 16, 2016, the IUPAT is holding its first annual IUPAT Community Day of Action. On this day, it is our goal to have members from each and every district council in the United States and Canada work on a project in their community. Although our political activists, otherwise known as the Army of Black and Gold, have rallied in every state and province on the Election Day of our respective countries, never have we mobilized our membership across North America on the same day for a cause.
Community projects planned range in scope from performing work on a community park, participating in political rallies and social events, preserving the environment, or civic and community outreach.
We will show our neighbors, decision-makers, the media, fellow union members and even our detractors what the dedication and determination of a united IUPAT membership can accomplish in only one day. Just imagine what we can accomplish in the weeks, months and years ahead if we display that same dedication in unity in everything we do.
As union members, we are fortunate to have a voice to negotiate fair wages and benefits for the jobs we work on every day. We have an organization larger than us to protect our workers from crimes like wage theft, and from unnecessary dangers on the job site. It is time we gave back to our own communities and, at the same time, show everyone the value and power of a strong labor movement united in action.
I look forward to seeing you soon at your local labor meeting and in the field volunteering for CORE.