UAW Conservation And Recreation Committee

By Cecelia Davis

Every committee comes into existence due to a specific need. The conservation and Recreation Committee is not exempt from this fact. The origins of this committee came a long way from where history use to be. It used to only cater to one kind of people and due to the diversity of individuals working within our union, a change was needed. That change started with ten pins and a bowling ball.

Bowling is one of the largest and best- organized sports in the world, which is perfect to create solidarity after a hard day’s work. It was about mid -1940’s when the sport had peaked in popularity and even still provides relaxation to many of our members today.

The recreation committee started with the simple game of bowling within the union’s ranks, but with a twist. They offered this activity for everyone! The UAW’s strong participation in desegregating bowling alleys is an important piece of our union history. It provided equal rights for all, not only within the workplace, but in recreation as well.

Walter Reuther, the UAW President in 1946, put the union at the forefront of the national movement to desegregate bowling alleys across the nation. He believed that while our union was working hard to desegregate the workplace, that mission was being undermined because of discrimination in society and he could not accept that.

Reuther gave Olga Madar, the director of the UAW Recreation Department, who later became the union’s first female vice president, the task of eliminating racial bias in organized bowling. With such great emphasis on changing history, our union established the UAW International Bowling Championships with the recreation committee and held the very first one in January 1948 at Herbert Fenton’s Dexter Recreation Center.

With the given history of the committee, not only is it a committee to provide solidarity within our union but we can make actual change within the world, as history has proven. Whether it’s volunteering to clean up a park together or playing a simple game of bowling, fun is for everyone, and Chairman Jerrod Ballard intends on continuing that.

Jerrod has been the Chairman of the committee for 15 to 16 years. He has planned engaging events that requires what we do best, teamwork. He’s a very active man, even during a pandemic. Due to Covid, this committee has taken a drastic hit in participation.

Although fear has taken the spots of players; that has not stopped the committee in having hopes to interact with one another. “Life is too short,” said Jerrod. “You can’t let fear control you. You don’t want to punch your own ticket before it’s due. Do what you can.”

Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. You are destined to experience it sometime within your work adventure. It’s natural. To overcome this stress, you may want to engage in an activity or possibly tackle any environmental concerns that you may stumble upon on the way to work.

The Conservation and Recreation Committee could be the perfect committee to commit to. It’s a strong, family quality group that rejoices in organized events that are certain to leave you with a smile on your face. If the recreation part doesn’t spark your interest, the conservation side might. It emphasizes making sure that all citizens have access to clean air, clean water, and parks.

The Conservation and Recreation Committee’s focus is not limited to your neighborhood or state but also national and global issues that affect us all.

Our union has stuck to the commitment of spreading joy through fun activities for every individual. This committee has planned float trips, corn-hole tournaments, hunting trips, sporting events, softball games, and team sport competitions.