UWUA Elects James Slevin National President
The New York City union leader has a long history of vision, fighting and winning for his beleaguered utility workforce
On July 26, 2019, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) elected a new National President. Their choice was Jim Slevin, the former President of the union’s largest local UWUA 1-2, which is based in New York City. The vote was unanimous and Slevin was sworn in the next day, July 27th. He replaces longtime President D. Michael Langford who served in a leadership position with the union for the past 16 years.
Slevin has a long history with the UWUA. Born into a union household in the Bronx, he became a member of UWUA 1-2 in 1987 when signed on as a Utility Worker at Con-Ed in New York City. He would work his way up to become a cable splicer and took his first leadership role in the union in 1989 when he was chosen to be a Shop Steward. In 2014 Slevin was elected President of Local 1-2 and he was re-elected in 2017.
“Jim Slevin and Pat Dillon are proven, capable and visionary leaders and I’m confident they’ll protect our legacy and build our future,” said Langford.
As a union leader in New York City, Slevin built a reputation as a likable and fair union leader. Under his leadership Local 1-2, which represents workers at New York City’s main power company Con-Ed, he became a leader in fighting for good jobs for his members. He successfully negotiated a number of contracts that ensured labor peace at Con-Ed and Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. While the negotiations were often difficult and contentious and the threat of a strike or lockout was on the table, Slevin was able to successfully lead his union through the negotiations and get them a fair contract. This was a stark change from just one contract before when Con-Ed locked out UWUA 1-2 for 3 weeks.
Slevin also played an important role in getting a number of pieces of legislation passed in New York. He worked with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to pass the Utility Worker Assault bill, which increased the penalties for people who attack utility workers while they are doing their job. He also joined a coalition of labor, business, and environmental activists to support making New York a leader in green energy. While the legislation didn’t pass in 2018, the plans they came up with became key provisions in Governor Cuomo’s 2019 climate plan that will put New York on the pathway to generating almost all of the state’s power from renewable sources.
According to the union, Langford had been planning his retirement for a while and Slevin was being groomed to take over. Thanks to this advanced planning, Slevin is ready to hit the ground running on Day 1.
In just the first month in office, Slevin has continued his fight to make sure that UWUA members are protected in an ever-changing energy economy, by launching a first of its kind renewable energy apprenticeship program. The UWUA is teaming up with Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) to provide a Department of Labor certified apprenticeship program that will train their members for the in-demand jobs that are being created in the new renewable energy sector.
“The members who successfully move through this important program are a triple-threat within the renewable energy industry,” said James Slevin, UWUA president. “Armed with the know-how to move seamlessly between wind, solar and battery storage facilities, their skillsets will continue to be in demand for a long time to come.”
Congratulations to James Slevin and the entire new leadership team at the UWUA. It’s clear that Slevin’s leadership has already paid dividends for the proud members of the UWUA.
Mohammed Sarker contributed to this article.