June Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Changes in Leadership Provide Opportunities to Build Lines of Communication and to Grow SOAR

Recent USW local union election results show a number of new officers have been elected to lead their locals. Also, due to incumbents deciding to retire, there will be at least two new District Directors and a National Director of Canada after the International Officer elections are held this fall.  These changes provide obstacles as well as opportunities for SOAR.

After being in isolation due to COVID-19, we in SOAR are just beginning to hold in-person meetings and reorganize our chapters.  The time is now to reach out to your local union leadership to develop or reacquaint a working relationship with them.  We must take this opportunity to explain the three-fold purpose of SOAR.  We must also explain how the locals can help build our membership by making sure they are aware of the USW resolution passed to pay the first-year membership in SOAR for all retirees.  As union members get closer to retirement (age 45 or older), we can encourage them, including spouses, to join our SOAR chapters, as well.

To further strengthen the relationship between the chapters and their locals, SOAR leaders and members can attend their local union meetings, when possible, and make sure the membership knows that we stand ready to help them when needed: Whether through Rapid Response, volunteering with the Community Service Committee or assuring the local union that we are anxious to help them if they need turnout for rallies and manning of the picket lines during negotiations.  There are many ways for chapter members to be involved and stay connected to the union.

Further, to establish a good line of communication between the SOAR chapters and their locals, the local unions are encouraged to select a representative to serve in an advisory capacity to the SOAR chapter. And, SOAR chapters are encouraged to select a designee to serve in an advisory capacity to the local union.

We also need better communication among ourselves. District SOAR board members should develop a system of regular contact with their chapter presidents (leaders) and coordinators.  If you don’t have a coordinator in your sub-district or area and are interested in serving as one, talk to your SOAR District Board Member.  (Directors appoint coordinators in their respective districts. Board members will notify them of any potential new coordinators for their consideration.) 

Finally, SOAR board members should develop a relationship with their new director and establish a plan to get active in their districts. There are many opportunities for SOAR to become involved at the district level.  Still, if we are not aware of any organizing drives, strikes, rallies or demonstrations, we cannot participate. That’s why good communication is needed between SOAR and our union leadership throughout. 

We in SOAR need to take advantage of the resources provided by our districts and local unions so that we may continue the fight to improve the lives of workers and retirees TOGETHER.

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United Steelworkers
Communications Department
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