Ya know I’ve supported my local union for almost 3 yrs now. I like the idea of workers bonding together to get the best compensation and benefits that they can. Lately though, I’m beginning to understand why politicians, Republicans especially, don’t necessarily like unions. Seems to me that some have lost their way.
For example, I’m out on a jobsite last week. We’re installing a chimney liner in the city of Wilmington. We got a 35 ft aluminum liner for a three story house. Unfortunately, the truck we’re riding in doesn’t have ladder racks so we had to borrow a ladder. We pull up and out pops this guy I all jamaican jimbob. This guy had 9 people(2 union, 7 of his own) dig a 6×6 sump ditch to nowhere on the hottest day of the year, with nothing but hand tools. After that gig, I told my union rep that I really did not want to work with such an incompetent contractor. So we borrow this 30 ft rickety, half wood-half metal construct of a ladder. It’s only long enough to reach the first roof so we have to drag another little step ladder up behind us. Keep in mind that OSHA rules say that you must be tied off anything higher than 6 ft. I suffer from vertigo and am terrified of open heights. I got about half way up and have never felt so unsafe in my life. I come back down, and by this time my union rep just happened to be there. I go over and playfully remind him of the OSHA regs….and much to my amazement, he tells me that I have to provide my own safety equipment. Unions were founded on unsafe working conditions and you’d think that my rep would get that. I haven’t had any work since. Seems some unions only care about collecting dues.
Good Afternoon folks,
I suppose the one great thing about a political blog is the fact that I control all the content. I don’t have to worry about the 300-400 word limit like I have on my Examiner.com site. I also don’t have to be beholden to someone else’s political choices like I have to for Local 55. I had a guy come to my door two nights ago, he was from 55 apparently and wanted to put out the campaign literature for the union’s pick of politicos. Three names appeared on the paper: Tom Gordon, John Cartier, and some guy named Chris Bullock. I’ve heard of 2 out of 3, and I gotta tell ya, neither Gordon or Cartier have done anything to get my vote, ever. Tom Gordon may not have been convicted, but he’s a damn thief. Sherry Freeberry was a notorious whore back when my father was a union shop steward in the mid-80’s. John Cartier used a black machinist’s union, The A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the screw over the tenants of Brookview. Calling the Brookview Tenants’ Council on the carpet of New Castle County chambers, when we refused to dance along to his tune and keep an ineffectual leader as President of the tenants council. Our county leaders at the time, John Cartier and Bob Weiner, 1 Democrat and 1 Republican got together to pave the way to expel 650 working class families from Brookview, so that Darley Green could be born.
I’m still relatively new to the whole union thing. my dad was a shop steward for the forestry department of New Castle County back in the early and mid 1980’s. Back then I remember all the things he used to say about being in a union, I was just too young to understand the implications. He would always say that the union existed to support the politicians who were in turn supposed to support the union. Individual members views didn’t always matter. Now 32 years later, I’m beginning to understand this. Just because a politician decides to back something popular, doesn’t mean that its in the union’s best interest to blindly vote for them. I can’t understand why 55 supports Tom Gordon unless there’s some kickback scheme in place. I know exactly what kind of man Cartier is, just because he supports “the living wage”, shouldn’t mean I have to vote for him to get work. Work with 55 has been sporadic at best since I hooked up with them 2 years ago. I wanted to be a part of the PAC, but after seeing who they support, I’m not so sure.
Which brings me to my next point. Local 55 is out of New Jersey. I got hooked up with them through the Delaware Skills Center, where I graduated HVAC in March of 2011. Why they picked the worst economy in recent memory to expand to the most pro-business state in the country, I’ll never know. It just seems like they’re voting for Gordon and Cartier in the hopes that these men will change how things are done in Delaware. They won’t. They will continue to lack the courage and forethought to do what’s right for the working families of New Castle County. I want to support my union, but can’t stomach backing the wrong horse.
I suppose my political views will continue to evolve with time…I just don’t want to find myself in a situation where I have to surrender my free will and vote for whoever my union tells me to. 55 isn’t local to Delaware, our politicians have a great capacity to lie to anyone. Our local politicians are also some of the most sociopathic folks I’ve ever met. With 2 months till the election, I wonder just how little 55 actually knows about the candidates they’re supporting. I sometimes feel like I should educate them but worry about the consequences, both personally and professionally. I wonder how many people in the country today feel the same?
Now that both the DNC and RNC are both over, I suppose its time for a few thoughts. To start with, this election is not about the best choice to run our enfeebled country. Neither Obama or Romney are absolutely stellar choices. One is a rich businessman who wants to play president. Romney has no foreign policy experience, I suppose he intends to rely on whomever he picks for Secretary of State. But as “leader of the free world”, we should expect the man to know something of the world outside of the boardroom. Romney’s choice for a running mate is just awful, and I predict will hold the Republicans back this election. Paul Ryan has made a 16 year career of anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-anything non Christian. I don’t really understand the mindset that led to this choice, probably because every one else turned him down.
President Obama is a better choice, but not because he’s done anything vaguely resembling effective leadership. Obama spends most of his time campaigning, not governing. One of the major themes that kept reverberating throughout the DNC speech was that he knows what the average American is going through. As I stated recently in a piece that I wrote for Examiner.com(I’m the Wilmington Labor Examiner), the president gets $400,000 a year, plus a $50,000 discretionary stipend. The average American worker makes $40,000 a year. None of our elected leaders has any idea what we, the working class of America, go through on a daily basis.
In real life I’m a partially employed member of a trade union. My wife, Dottie, has had brain cancer since 2007. If were lucky, we get by on $25,000 a year. This has been going on since 2010 when I got fired(illegally mind you, the labor board said so) from Home Depot. The Republicans say I should pull myself up by my bootstraps, as if I hadn’t that about that. The Democrats fling money at retraining programs that don’t give a damn if you get hired after graduation. For example, I graduated from Delaware Skills Center HVAC program in March 2011. They got $5,000 for each of the 12 students in my class. What they neglected to tell us was that local HVAC companies, facing a glut of good people with many years of experience, just aren’t hiring apprentices.
I joined the union after graduation, and have worked sporadically the last 18 months. I stopped paying dues, until I got steady work. Im also looking at possibly joining another union, just to be able to feed my family of four, not two mention 3 dogs and 6 cats. Neither Obama, nor Romney for that matter, ever have to decide between paying the mortgage or paying for Dottie’s chemo. Neither has to make the choice between going to two meals a day to pay the overpayment that my local unemployment office says I defrauded them out of, even though it was an actual mistake, and paying for the car to be fixed so my wife can ride to Philadelphia to get. If these leaders claim to know what I’m going through, why has my American dream be sent over to China?
As stated earlier, this election isn’t about the best choice to lead the country, this election is about which one will destroy our country just a little bit less