Apologies for no new content on your union’s website lately. As much as we encourage our members participation and input, it seems many of you are reluctant to share your thoughts with your union Brothers and Sisters. Regardless, the offer still stands for anyone who would like to submit an idea, article, question, or comment. Just jot it down and give it to any union officer.
Speaking of participation; as an American, a citizen, and a union member, it’s coming down to DECISION TIME for union members everywhere, including Local 304.
All around us, wages, benefits, and pensions are under attack. Right-To-Work has spread like a cancer across the country, eating the heart and soul out of the middle class. The National Labor Relations Board is being intentionally infiltrated with anti-worker/pro- corporate non-elected appointees, and Citizens United has gave big business a voice in the political arena that’s augmented by the huge amounts of cash corporatists are willing to spend in destroying the social safety net that has gave many Americans a softer place to land in hard times.
With the deluge of coverage, it’s hard to pick out the genuine grassroots organizations from the ones fronted by those working against the interests of American workers, but, the times they are a changin’. The biggest change is that the old divisive tactics that have had working people fighting other working people is giving way to the obvious truth that all workers have more in common with each other than any of us have in common with Big Business executives, or thier bought and paid for political mouthpieces. Working people are coming to the realization that we can’t sit quietly on the sidelines and hope that we don’t get sold out by those who are supposed to be our representatives, and the we must band together to face the rising tide if we are going to save the things that make work pay for the average working person.
If you feel powerful when you walk into your local polling place to vote, just try showing up at a march or rally of working people, just like you. You will find may kindred spirits of all races, religions, backgrounds, and political affiliations. You will see a celebration of things we have in common and tolerance and forbearance for our differences.
The Occupy movement, Me Too, Standing Rock, and even Black Lives Matter all have a common thread that runs through all these protesters and that is justice. Americans are demanding social, economic, and political justice. They are taking to the streets, picketing, protesting, and marching because they are not happy with the direction our country is moving in and they know that it is their kids and grand kids who will inherit what they leave behind.
Here in West Virginia, we are usually on the tail end of all things socially progressive. We usually tune in to the TV and watch Californians, or one of the big metropolises, partly in amusement and horror at the same time, as our fellow Americans push the boundaries of what we consider as ‘normal.’
That changed when our elected officials decided to pass Right To Work and repeal the prevailing wage over the angry cries of working West Virginians, whom one lawmaker branded as, “free-loaders”. The onslaught hasn’t receded, with the attacks broadening to what’s going on with PEIA and our state’s teachers and public employees.
All the while there are proposals being quietly shuffled in the statehouse to open our state to charter schools, which would basically make education a for profit enterprise. Here is a partial list of some of the bill and proposals worming through the West Virginia Legislature:
On top of all this are the national issues affecting all Americans. The skyrocketing cost of healthcare, stolen pensions, suppressed wages, employment instability, and a lack of opportunity or options.
Harrison employees joined the Utility Workers of America in a vote held in 2010. The whole argument back then was protecting our wages, benefits, and working conditions. That still stands, but now we have to broaden our reach and band with others trying to accomplish the same goals.
Since then, we’ve seen what a union can and can’t do for us, as we learn how to use the voice we gained when we took our seat at the table with our employer. Some things we’ve won, others were a draw, and some we lost, and there are the ones that still we fight on. We are learning how to be a union, but the time is coming when every union member will have to decide to fight or play dead.