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OPINION

Williams: Unions and the outdoors go great together

Dennis Williams

UAW active and retired members are no different from most Americans when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. We hunt and fish, go hiking, or simply enjoy the beauty that our Creator has provided. We want these opportunities preserved for future generations. It’s especially important in a state such as Michigan where there are so many outstanding outdoor opportunities — and an economy that in part depends on the dollars these activities produce.

That’s why the UAW recently joined with the AFL-CIO and 11 affiliate unions as a charter union of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. It’s the only union-dedicated conservation organization working to preserve our nation’s outdoor heritage for future generations. All active and retired UAW members are invited to sign up to receive a no-cost USA membership.

You’ll get access to USA’s online magazine, national promotions and giveaways, as well as deals and discounts on many outdoor-related items and activities. Those who join can also apply for the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime and appear on the USA’s award-winning outdoor TV series, “Brotherhood Outdoors.” UAW Local 838 member Aaron Heying in Iowa was recently chosen for a New Mexico bear hunt, which will air on the Sportsman Channel in early 2016.

But they’ll also receive the satisfaction of knowing they can combine their passion for joining together to solve common problems, whether they are in the workplace or in the great outdoors. We’re proud to support an organization that helps our hardworking men and women enjoy the activities they’re passionate about, while providing them with an avenue to put their skills to work for conservation. We’ve already partnered with USA on a number of projects, including in Illinois, where UAW Local 145 members are building kiosks and pouring a grill pad at Starved Rock State Park as part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

Even though our union has a heavy presence in manufacturing, UAW President Walter Reuther believed the great outdoors and conservation were of great importance to our members. In 1965, he spoke to a conference of more than 1,000 union members from the United States and Canada, sportsmen, environmental groups, and civic associations about the importance and future of the environment. Reuther believed President Lyndon Johnson’s vision of a “Great Society” would be incomplete without a clean and healthful environment. Two years later, the UAW International Executive Board created the Department of Conservation and Resource Development. The UAW also provided critical financial support for the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, just two weeks before Reuther’s tragic death. Reuther was all about building coalitions with diverse groups to solve common problems. It was his vision to include conservation and the great outdoors among the topics UAW members need to be concerned about. We’re proud to continue that tradition and invite all UAW active and retired members to do the same by joining the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Dennis Williams is president of United Auto Workers.

Labor Voices

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.