About UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America)

“UE” is the abbreviation for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a democratic national union representing some 35,000 workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private non-profit sector jobs. UE is an independent union (not affiliated with the AFL-CIO) proud of its democratic structure and progressive policies.

Most UE members still work in factories related to the union’s traditional jurisdictions — electrical manufacturing, metalworking and plastics. UE members work as plastic injection molders, tool and die makers, sheet metal workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and custodians. We build locomotives, repair aircraft engines, assemble circuit boards, manufacture metal cabinets, produce industrial scales and make machine tools.

UE members are also teachers, speech pathologists and nurses; clerical workers, graduate instructors, graduate researchers, scientists, librarians, and day care workers. We maintain county roads, drive school buses, conduct research in university laboratories, counsel AIDS victims, treat waste water and engage in hundreds of other occupations.

What do we mean by “Rank-and-File” unionism?

The term “rank-and-file” is defined as “those who form the major portion of any group or organization, excluding the leaders and officers.” In UE, we use the term “rank-and-file unionism” to describe how our union operates: it simply means it’s the members who run our union … in a democratic and collective manner. The members set the policies of the union and make all of the decisions of importance that affect their own local unions.

Long-time UE officer and organizer Ernie DeMaio defined UE’s unique style of rank-and-file unionism this way: the members elect the union’s officers (local, district and national) who, in turn, are required to report on their stewardship of the union concerning its “policies, program, expenditures and contract negotiations which must have the prior consent of the members and their approval on all of the actions taken, and contracts negotiated, on their behalf. The essence of rank-and-file unionism is not democratic rhetoric, but democratic practice. The members run the union.”