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To the editor:
As contract negotiations and collective bargaining continue to move forward slowly for Kelloggs and John Deere employees, I feel it’s important to discuss the significance of Labor Unions in America today, and that of the past, as well.
I grew up in a household that pro Union, becoming the third generation to join the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 234. Throughout the years I’ve been a member of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 90 and International Laborers Union Local 177 as well. AFL-CIO affiliated.
Totaling almost 25 years of Union service. I’ve participated in several strikes & held numerous positions such as Steward, Organizer, Guard, Conductor, etc.
Early on I was heavily influenced by John L. Lewis, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs, Joe Hill, Bayard Rustin, Jimmy Hoffa, Samuel Gompers, just to name a few. Their dedication, resilience, and sacrifice endured years ago, we still reap the benefits from today. These men and women created real change for the common working person. Civil rights. Overtime pay. Child labor laws. Unemployment benefits. Equality. Pensions. Health insurance coverage. Personal Protective Gear. Safe working conditions. The list goes on. Richard Trumka, Thomas Donahue and Lane Kirkland have continued to build upon the success and fight for organized labor.
There seem to be some misconceptions regarding labor unions as well.
The first being that a labor union will only “hurt” a company. This could not be further from the truth.
Union journeymen are thoroughly trained in what is known as Apprenticeship Programs, ranging on a average 3-5 years roughly.
Skilled labor is not cheap, nor should it be. A union, of any kind, wants nothing more then for that company to be the most successful company of its kind! Our only qualm is, how are we going to split up the profits?
A union has nothing to gain by a company going belly up. This is typically due to a handpicked CEO, who has mismanaged the company, primarily because of greed.
No job placement for the union members, means no money coming in from dues. Which brings me to my next point, dues. This is the amount that is paid to your union of choice, for a variety of purposes. Union representation, job placement etc. It is based on a percentage of the union negotiated wage. In my experience, dues were less than 2% of my weekly income. A very small price to pay for representation.
In closing, it’s urgent that we, as working men & women in America, do what we can to protect the advancements that the labor movement has provided for us all. Pro Union or not, everyone benefits from organized labor.
We can help these working folks out by boycotting Kelloggs and John Deere products until favorable conditions/negotiations are met by management personnel. United we stand, Divided we beg!
Adam B. Freeman