Letter To Brothers and Sisters Of UAW Freightliner Local 3520
|Dear Brothers and Sisters of Local 3520,
I HAVE FOLLOWED the continuing struggle at Freightliner with great interest and all of you have my heart-felt sympathy. I am thankful that you have had the courage to fight for representation by a union. I know it is not an easy task in a time when greedy employers seem to have all the powers in their favor. I know as well, that this past April, your quest for a fair contract has created many victims of Freightliner's vengeance and the UAW National Union's thirst for top down control. It is always better to be union even when top leaders forget who they are supposed to represent. Just remember, you, are the union!
I will tell you that after 42 years in the union movement, I know the strength of the union, the vessel of solidarity, is vested at the local level. Where we live and work, where we draw strength from one another, and where we achieve parity, is in the communities where we live and the shop floor where we toil. It is the men and women in the Cleveland North Carolina area who make the union strong; not vindictive bureaucrats who often mirror the greedy employers we have every right to despise.
I am deeply troubled that Robert Whiteside, Allen Bradley, Franklin Torrence, Glenna Swinford, and David Crisco have been out on the street for more than seven months without representation by the UAW nor has the contract been enforced by local leaders concerning specified time limits for arbitration concerning discharge cases. I am troubled as well, that the UAW is once again involved in back door negotiations and penalizing its own members who have shown the courage and strength to carry out the will of the members and fight for their best interests. I am concerned that while these five dedicated trade unionists have suffered great economic hardship, an uncertain future, fallen behind on mortgage payments and other necessities, local 3520 has done nothing to assist them. How easy it would be for the local leaders to conduct weekly bucket drops at the gates, at the union hall and by correspondence to members, to build a Solidarity fund to help these courageous elected officials survive until justice can be achieved. Every member of local 3520 currently working has an obligation to support these Brothers and Sister until they are back at work and each of you can afford to contribute and show your Solidarity.
I am concerned that while these five dedicated trade unionists sacrificed so much in representing local 3520, each of you, local officers have done little to assist them in the financial hardships they have endured. Even money owed them for their work during negotiations, money they desperately need, has been blocked by your local president even though your executive board ordered them paid, the UAW auditor has ruled in their favor, and the membership voted to approve it. If you have not asked questions before about your leadership, you should be asking now. Why has others in leadership allowed this to go on? Why has some in local leadership insisted on phony charges and trials, given false testimony and refused to carry out the will of the members?
You have come a long way as a local but you will grow no more if you allow this injustice to continue. Being union is not about paying dues or having a membership card; it is about Solidarity, a brother and sisterhood that nurtures one another. The union is a phantom of the heart; about believing in and supporting one another. You will never be a union until you accept the opportunity to serve one another, fight for one another, and recognize that through collective action, you can achieve solidarity and justice in the workplace.
You cannot move forward as a union as long as you live in the shadow of fear Freightliner has cast over your membership nor will you grow in numbers as long as the national UAW shows workers they are as uncaring and vindictive as the employers. I am deeply disappointed by the UAW response to this struggle but I am not the least bit surprised.
I have spoken with members of your local and I have reached out to labor activists across the US to assist them in their time of need. Together we will do what we can to meet their needs and help them survive. We will do what your local thus far, has not. We will encourage them, raise funds for them, counsel them, and do what we can to lift them up and help them achieve justice. What will you and your Local do?
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