a story out today
on the troubles of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which ratified a give-back contract last Thursday after a 4-month strike at Vought Aircraft, fearful that they would lose their jobs in this disintegrating economy.
I spent some time out on the picket line, and was present for the vote to ratify. The workers, of course, were fantastic, often gregarious and for the most part open and friendly. And what pluck to stay out on the cold picket line for a $150-a week strike check.
The leadership, however, was a different story. While chatting with the picketers I heard complaint after complaint about the media only reporting the drivel hand-fed to them by Vought management. I chalked it up to lazy reporting on yet another strike that wasn't quite sexy enough for harried broadcast news reporters. Then I tried to reach union leadership myself, and it all became quite clear...
The phone at the union hall is rarely answered. And don't bother
leaving a message, 'cause you can't. The mailbox is perpetually full.
Then I tried contacting the union officers through the numbers listed
on the site, most of which are pagers. I paged local president Mike
Worrell several times to no avail. I even went as far as calling him at
home, but "the number was no longer in service." I tried other
officers. Some numbers were incorrect, others were pagers whose owners
never bothered returning a page.
Then I tried the
international office in Maryland. I called every number in the
directory, from International President Tom Buffenbarger down to an
administrative assistant, multiple times. But there was no option to
leave a voice message. I called the cell phones and office numbers of
IAM spokesmen Bob Wood and Frank Larkin. As I write this post I've
heard from none of them.
So here's where my sympathy for IAM
stops. It would seem the labor unions can be their own worst enemies.
In this strike, there was story after story where the sole quote came from Vought,
followed by a vague, recycled quote about the aircraft company being
motivated solely by greed.
So I end my open letter to IAM leadership this
way: If you want to be heard, if you want someone to write something
that might bring your plight to the public, return a phone call. Because judging by the
coverage this strike received, you've failed the hardworking,
dues-paying backbone of Local 735.