Wednesday, April 7, 2010


As of Sunday Thomas is on strike. The vote on Sunday was 18 for the contract and 530 against it, so it wasn't even a little bit close. The news is reporting that the strike is over the healthcare benefits portion of the contract, but that isn't entirely true. It is, at least for the union members I know, more a matter of some of the wording in the contract which would seem to allow the company to discontinue or make changes to the healthcare benefits at its own discretion at any time during the contract term. This was a bit of sneaky wording that we had never seen in the contracts before, and because of some of the other sneaky things the company has pulled over the past year, this is a matter of great concern.

Thomas was really torn on this contract. He told me on Friday that for the first time ever (and he's been with this company for 14 years -- 11 straight, and then for the past three after a five year period where he was working for another company) he was actually considering not voting at all. He said that as far as he could see at that time, voting either for the contract or against it would be possibly jeopardizing his family. That is the way Thomas thinks, and I have, over the years, learned to trust his judgment when it comes to things like this.

He went to the meeting on Sunday to hear everything, and he came home with the conviction that the rank and file could not in good conscience vote for this contract. The company says it is their "best and final" and that the ball is in the union's court. Well, we'll see. I've heard that before. It also irritated workers and their families that the company sent a letter of propaganda to everyone's home, mailing it so that we got it on the Friday before the vote.

I was a bit amused to see on the news that the company's response to the healthcare benefits question is that all of their other non-union employees, which would include management, office, foremen, etc., have the very same benefits that we are being offered in the contract.

Well, so?

That isn't even a reasonable argument. Those non-union employees didn't have any choice, did they, other than to not accept any benefits at all? That's why there is a union, so that things like that can be negotiated for the benefit of all.

Make no mistake -- we don't trust the company OR the union any further than we can throw them. As far as I'm concerned, there are crooks on both sides. But sometimes you have to make a decision for your family, based on whether or not you are going to let someone (company) get away with something, and it has nothing to do with any perceived loyalties to either the company or the union. As Thomas says, he doesn't owe either of them any loyalty, only his family.

Thomas is a hard worker, and an honest one, and he has always managed to care for his family if times get hard. And I'm not exactly unable to work, myself! So we'll see how long this strike lasts and then go from there. We do have options.

Several years ago there was a strike, and when they went back to the tables to re-negotiate we thought they came out with a pretty good compromise. The rank and file voted against it again, and even though Thomas was irritated and in disagreement with the majority, he did not, of course, cross the picket line. There would be no question of that at this time, either, even he hadn't agreed with the vote.

But, hey, it's Spring, and Eler Beth is getting to go fishing just about every day with her dad! We have several pounds of bass and catfish in our freezer, thanks to those trips. I've prayed about the situation, and we've made practical plans. Now it's a matter of throwing our burdens on God, doing our own part, and playing the waiting game.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Hope the strike is over quickly and with another resonable conclusion.

Missie said...

I hope for everyone's sake the strike doesn't last long.


Glad you've got some fish in the freezer to tide you over. I hope the strike is over soon and the results are favorable for your family. You'll be in my thoughts.

Martha said...

Good luck Lori, hope this ends soon and all is well. *Hugs*

Gerry said...

When I was working for Revlon they had a plant back east, so when it came time to negotiate the contract, a union representative would come out and harangue the workers they must vote against it, but the workers in Arizona were of a different mind set and you could readily see they were not about to vote for a strike no matter the terms. In fact there were always rumors the company might move our plant across the border and that caused even more fear about going against the company. I was partially disabled, so I would never have any reserves built up, in fact I counted on the layoffs to rest so I could conquer chronic fatigue symptoms. This was my first experience in seeing first hand and close up company policies on the assembly lines causing health risks, because eventually the speed they required we go was my downfall. Some machine operators had no sense. On the day it happened, we were trying to screw on faulty lids as fast as we could go naturally. I called the operator over and told him the lids were defective, we could not go as fast as required. He ignored me and turned up the line again! My partner much younger and surely not disabled just quit on me and like a fool I tried to keep up until something snapped. I felt it. Now I knew what they were talking about when they said in the old days, before the union, workers would faint on the lines and they would just pull them off and replace them and start up again before the worker even came to! I had to be helped off out of the building by a family member who called and could never return to work. The frustration is so great when company policy ignores health concerns, so even though I sometimes thought the union representative from back east was unrealistic, I appreciated why unions helped the workers to keep from being so exploited by the company their health failed. It happens.
I thought you explained the strike situation very lucidly.

Lisa said...

Wow, I hope the strike moves along quickly and everyone returns to work. It sounds like the company would do well to keep employees like Thomas happy. I wish you the best with this.