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.