A DISCLAIMER REQUESTED BY THE BUSINESS MANAGER

"The views and opinions in this Blogspot are expressed by me in my capacity as an individual member and not in my capacity as a Union Officer. Likewise, comments by the other members on the Blogspot are individual expressions of their views. The views stated herein are not necessarily a reflection of Local 602. The Local has not seen or adopted my comments or the comments of others prior to posting. The Blogspot includes no expenditures of Union Funds."



Sunday, September 19, 2010

HANG TOGETHER OR HANG SEPARATELY

Our latest offer to the contractors went beyond all that was justified by the members’ straw votes and resolutions at the Special Called Meetings. It was rejected. They have drawn back to their proposal of a multi-year contract with few concessions and an offer of 55 cents an hour for the first year, 95 cents for the second year, and a third year to be yet decided. We have been left with a choice to surrender or the alternative, to fight on for a just resolution.

The contractors’ negotiators have backed us up against the wall and they want to have at us further. This is akin to RAPE and I will not have any of this. I have counseled the members to have patience. I have counseled the members to show restraint. Given their bitch slap, I withdraw my counsel.

Any member of Steamfitters Local Union 602 that would vote to accept either offer from the opposite sides of the table needs to understand that they do so at their own peril. We have moved lower and lower with each offer and each and every one of our proposals have been rejected. There is no guarantee that they will accept any vote by our members. That includes any vote scheduled on the 29th.

This is not by accident; this is by design. The MCA has broken the spine of the Plumbers. Our backbone has always been stronger. That is why they continue with the lash. This is why they continue the beating. Feel the pain, bear the beating, and smile at those that want to break you. Look them in the eye and laugh at them. Tell them to read the rule again for their measure falls short. We are STEAMFITTERS.

I’ll grant you that there are those that will seek the shelter of surrender. They will ask for quarter. You can join them and accept the contractors’ proposal but understand that this will guarantee that they will continue to beat you further and further into the ground if not now, then later. Look at the record. I’ve heard the reports each month. They have denied our members our negotiated holidays. They have denied us our break times. They have fired, sorry, “laid off”, our shop stewards and conscientious members that have called the Hall to report violations of the contract. Our grievance procedure is a joke. There is no job security now. There will be less in the future if you surrender now.

Our contractor’s association have us just where they want us, divided and at each other’s throat. Foolishly we have gone along with their design. Once our contractors have broken the Fitter the other contractors associations will go after the Electrician, the Elevator Constructors, the Sheetmetal Man, the Boilermaker, Bricklayer, Mason, Painter, Plasterer, Insulator, and Laborer. All of them will have to negotiate after us. If we are broken, so too, will they.

It is now time to put our differences aside. We either agree that we will be the laughing stock of the Building Trades or we will once again be a proud leader in their midst. It is time to ask which side are you on. Are you a Union Brother or Sister or are you a company snitch, bitch, or scab? Will you stand shoulder to shoulder with your Brothers & Sisters or will you quit the Union and accept their offer?

Keep in mind that you will surrender your Annuity and/or reach into your pocket to fund our Pension and Medical Fund. We have legal obligations that have to be met. We have no choice in these matters.

Forget the Apprentice Fund, if you accept the contractors’ offer you will sacrifice the future of our Local for your immediate needs. There is not enough being offered to protect our investment in our Apprentice system. As I see it, we can’t meet our obligations to our site in Virginia. We can’t support our current number of Apprentice Coordinators. We will have to cut back on the number of teachers and/or the salary that they are paid.

That is not only our question. It is also a question to every working member involved with the Building Trades. Spread the word on your job site. Educate the other Trades. Let them understand that “An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”. If we can’t support our Pension. Medical, and Apprentice Funds with our settlement, can they expect to do so with their next contract? Convince them that it is in their best interest to honor our actions whether sanctioned or not. Our fight now is their battle tomorrow. If they break us, they will turn on them next. We have been bitched slapped. So too will they.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS' ASSOCIATION



Our members have rejected the previous offer of a multi-year contract. We have rejected arbitration. And yet, the same proposal keeps getting laid on the table.

The members have asked for a one year contract with a fair offer of a raise to cover our pension, medical and apprentice funds needs and to put some change in our pockets. We believe that we have acted in a restrained manner and continued to work under the terms of an expired contract. We are confused about the entrenched stance of the MCA negotiators.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day 2010 Message

I have been researching our Union roots through the Library of Congress for some time. Unfortunately the coverage of Labor concerns in the newspapers starts in the mid-1890’s. I know that our legacy extends back to the 1880’s but I have found references that we may have even earlier roots as part of the Knights of Labor. We were known as the Hot Water & Steam Fitters Local Union 10 in both the National and International Associations of the same name in the 1890’s.

The earliest references that I could find on Local Union 10 strikes date back to 1898 and 1900. Despite legislation passed to establish an eight-hour workday in the District of Columbia, our ancestors had to strike to establish a common practice of an eight-hour/day, six-day workweek in 1898. The strike may have lasted a year before the practice was accepted on all of D.C. construction job sites. Rest assured that we held strong and help to establish the eight-hour work day for the rest of the building trades. Such is our legacy. We are leaders in the building trades.

The newspaper coverage of our 1900 strike was more inclusive. We struck to establish the National Association average wage scale of $3.50/day for fitters in DC. We were working for $.50/day less than that when we struck in July.

The reaction by the contractors was immediate and it was harsh. The Master Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association released the following statements to the public:

“We recognize no union of either fitters or helpers.”
“Our scale of wages will be such as to suit ourselves.”

Predictions on the length of the strike stretched from a few weeks to months. Some believed that it would last until the following spring. Letters were sent to the National Association of Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association asking for their support. They pledged both moral and financial support and further warned that a national strike could result if our contract was not settled. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Either recognize the Fitters and their Helpers and negotiate a fair contract or face the possibility that sympathy strikes would be called in other major cities.

Days stretched into weeks before there was movement. Our ancestors met daily and took a roll call vote to assure that no one was crossing the line. With shame and dishonor some crossed the line but the great majority held strong. Individual owners began to break rank with their association and agreed to sign interim agreements within the first two weeks. By the end of July there was a tentative agreement with the association.

The men returned to work on August 1, 1900 with most issues settled. They eventually received half of what they struck for. Keep in mind that equalled an 8.33% increase in their wages. Couple that with the wage and hour victories from the 1898 actions, our ancestors successfully struck twice in 3 years to increase their wages by nearly 10% while reducing their hours by over 10%.

But the more important aspect of the 1898 and 1900 strikes was that The Master Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association did indeed:

“Recognize a Union of Fitters and a Union of Helpers.”
“Agree that the scale of wages will be a matter of proper negotiations.”

Take solace for we do not march alone. There are a host of ghosts that walk amongst us. They stood tall and struck 110 years ago so that we would have the right to take up the challenge in our lifetime. It is up to us to continue their legacy.

The MCA continues to push for arbitration now and in future negotiations. We have rejected it. The MCA continues to push for a multi-year contract. We have rejected that. The challenge remains…we must continue our strike until they recognize our collective bargaining rights and agree that our wages and all of our working conditions are a matter of proper negotiations.