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Guest Commentary / Letter to IAM leadership

Workers' voices aren't being heard

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By Jenny Gearhart
This is an open letter to the IAM 751 regarding the new contract negotiations:
I'd like to share some concerns that I and several of my coworkers have.
First, it is appalling that we have been driven to believe this message will fall on deaf ears. We can't even trust the people we pay every month to represent us to hear, heed and work to rectify our issues. Our union leadership has become every bit as self-serving and shady as the company they are to protect us from. They smile and collect a hefty paycheck while they lie and leave us in the dark. After looking at how we've been treated as of late, it has become abundantly clear that the leadership exists solely to line its own pockets with not only money from the membership, but from the company as well.
It's no secret that the union needs the company more than the company needs the union. Now, it's gotten to where the union needs the membership more than the membership needs the union. We're no longer receiving what we consider important information. We don't even hear about details of negotiations until they hit the news. That's ridiculous. We should be the first to know and have a say in defining our pay structure, our benefits, our retirement.
You work for us. We pay you. That does not give you the right to tell us what's best for our lives. You're supposed to be here to ensure that we have a voice, are well-informed, and get a fair deal. Other than a hasty vote on an odious extension that you lied to us about even having any part in, we've received none of those services.
You said yourselves that you didn't even want to give us that option. That was the company "bullying" you to do something you should have done without question in the first place.
Yes, it was a bad deal. However, not a single one of you pays my bills, sorts out medical coverage for my child, or will be there when I hit retirement. I absolutely do not feel comfortable handing over control of those things to someone whose main goal is simply to make substantially more money than I do. If that were the case, I'd still be at my non-union job. When the company "forces" you to bring a vote to the union to get our say on it, you are doing something wrong.
You're giving us less reasons every day to trust you. People are tired of being left guessing and getting information secondhand. You're doing is showing us that you don't care about the lives of those you're meant to help. It doesn't matter how much lip-service you give us to the contrary. Your actions speak much louder.

Jenny Gearhart lives in Lake Stevens.

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