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13 June, 2014The President of IndustriALL Global Union, Berthold Huber, has been honoured by US union, UAW, with the prestigious Walter Reuther Social Justice Award.
Outgoing UAW president, Bob King, presented the prize to Berthold Huber at the annual UAW convention in Detroit, USA, on 2 June for his role in helping to build global alliances between worldwide labour organizations.
Huber told delegates the fight for workers’ rights is never over and continues for every generation: “People are still working in deplorable conditions around the world,” said Huber, reminding delegates about the mass deaths of workers in the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and the Soma coal mine in Turkey. “In both situations owners knew about safety problems for a long time, and so did governments. All are responsible for the deaths of those workers,” said Huber.
“It is our duty to protect workers against these conditions and support each other in our fight for people and employee rights. Capitalism and financial markets have dragged the world into a financial crisis and now the middle class is eroding, the poor are getting poorer and precarious work is on the rise,” he said. “Globalization means unions have to be concerned with conditions in other countries. It will affect all of us eventually,” said Huber.
The 36th UAW Constitutional Convention also saw president Bob King step down. Dennis Williams was elected in his place with an overwhelming 3,215 votes out of a total of 3,270 cast. Williams previously served as the secretary-treasurer of the UAW, and has been a member of the union since 1977. Following his election, Williams told reporters: “It’s humbling. I’m excited for our union. I feel the energy, the power of our unity, I’m looking forward to the challenges we have.”
Also elected were Gary Casteel as secretary-treasurer and Cindy Estrada, Norwood Jewell and Jimmy Settles as vice presidents.
The struggle for union representation by workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant in Tennessee was a hot topic at the convention, while delegates also made a strong commitment to international solidarity.