Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The year 2020 has brought on challenges that no one could have predicted, yet I am grateful to be at the helm of this great union, Local 223 UWUA. I am proud of the solidarity of all of our members as we battle the coronavirus pandemic. The sacrifices that we all make every day to ensure that the community we serve has lights and gas, is HEROIC. We are the backbone of industry. Without us everything comes to a stop. I’ve seen all of our members rise to the occasion, doing whatever it takes to get the job done. We have shown our resilience, reliability and flexibility to make sure we are here to serve the public that counts on us. Our plans constantly evolve to deal with this threat and because of the nature of this virus, each day brings new challenges.
Saying Thank You
Just three weeks before the COVID-19 stay at home order began, I was nominated and sworn in as president of Local 223. With all of the challenges we’ve encountered during the pandemic, we haven’t taken time to properly recognize former President Mike Smith as he retired at the end of 2019. I would like to say thank you to Mike for his 22 years of union leadership, where he served in a variety of union leadership positions for Local 223 UWUA. I was proud to serve alongside him as Treasurer and appreciate all he did to help with the transition of leadership. We truly hope he is enjoying his well-deserved retirement, spending time with family, boating and golfing!
I also want to express my gratitude to Michael Langford, past President of the Utility Workers Union of America National, Jim Harrison, UWUA National director of renewable energy and former President of Local 223, and Rich Harkins, past Vice President of Local 223. I appreciate your guidance and for mentoring me through the process to consider running for President of our Local. Thank you all so much!
We have been busy since March working to protect our members on every front possible, ensuring the company is protecting our members in the field and offices and keeping the health and safety of our members in mind. I will continue to fight to protect our members and to give a voice to labor.
Since social distancing continues with COVID-19, we have made the tough decision to cancel all of our Local-wide, in-person events for 2020, keeping the health and safety of our members in mind. We can’t wait to resume our solidarity events once the pandemic is under control and it is safe to do so.
I am currently leading our Executive Board team through negotiations training, which will be held continuously to get ready for our negotiations with DTE in April 2021. These negotiations are critical and this training will help to put us in the best position to negotiate a contract that is fair and protects the best interests of our members for wages, benefits and working conditions.
This issue of Annunciator is bittersweet since we included a memorial to our sisters and brothers we have lost to the pandemic. Our prayers continue for all who have suffered a loss. Please take time to let all the special people in your life know that you love them. We are in this together and we will need the support of one another to get through it. Reach out to a family member, a friend, a coworker or anyone you may know that is in need to offer a helping hand.
In Solidarity, Juanita Ray
President, Local 223 UWUA