Anchorage, Repeal AO 37!!
Sisters and Brothers:
Here it is, 2013, and another election year is quickly approaching. Just five years ago we were at the beginning of the worst financial crisis faced by our Nation since the Great Depression, and the beginning of the presidency of a man many hoped would bring about great change in Washington, DC. Barack Obama stepped into a situation that no one could have predicted and made the best of a terrible situation. It’s hard to write about such things without injecting bias. One thing is for sure - America is a changed Nation.
We in the 99% saw a serious erosion of our Class. We watched as corporations were granted the same status as people when it came to influence under the guise of freedom of speech by the absurd decision of the Supreme Court in Citizen’s United.
We learned that Wall Street had knowingly duped us with their financial shenanigans. We watched as they then appealed to their friends in Congress when their plans of untold wealth collapsed like the house of cards it was. We stood by passively when Congress granted to these same failures the greatest transfer or wealth from the American people to corporations bailing out these businesses because they were deemed too big to fail.
We learned that 44% (or more) of the seated members of Congress are millionaires while only 1% of the general population is. Look at it like this. If 44% of our population was of one ethnicity and only 1% of that ethnic race was elected to Congress, what would you think? Kind of looks like events are transpiring to keep a certain type of people from having any stroke in government. Or at least to make sure that those with the money continue to make the rules. “He who has the gold, rules.” That was a joke we told when I was growing up about the Golden Rule. Now it’s no laughing matter. It’s a fact.
We in the Labor Movement have been down this road again and again in the workplace. At one point it was white versus black and was called discrimination when a white employee performing the same work as a black employee was paid greater pay. Then, it was male versus female when the males were disproportionally receiving the best promotions and jobs over their equally qualified female counter-parts. Now it’s the wealthy versus everyone else. How do we fix this mess?
Not by pulling down the rights of workers so that their discussions on workplace issues become a whisper, rather than a voice. Here, in Anchorage we have seen the Mayor and a few of his cohorts seek to dramatically change the way public employees are able to participate in the way they work. AO-37 was ramrodded through the Assembly solely as a result of an appointment made to the Assembly named Cheryl Frasca, an individual that was 180 degrees opposite of Harriet Drummand, a woman who knew the pulse of West Anchorage. This Mayor and his 6 friends were, over near unanimous public disapproval, successful in passing into Law an ordinance revision that is now the subject of legal disputes. The damage it will do is yet to be seen, but in the short term it will cost this City and its residents the quality of life we’ve come to expect in our City.
There comes the time when those of us that lead must do more. We can no longer “hope” that those we represent, that the boats we float with the rising tide created by our efforts, will agree with us. It is clear that as the rate of unionization falls throughout our Nation, so too, does the wealth of the middle class. Anchorage, reject this narrow agenda. Support the effort to repeal AO-37.
Local 1547 Announcements!
What will it take?
What would it take to get your commitment to give 12 hours of your personal time each year to your Local Union?
For a very long time we have been concerned about the lack of participation of the vast majority of our membership in the political process. It appears that the same, small core of dedicated people are the ones who volunteer. Where is the disconnect? What does it take for the rest of our membership to engage?
Collective bargaining requires political participation. Look at what happened in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio— and most recently here in Anchorage with AO37. Working families and the middle class are indeed under attack. We need politicians who will stand up for us. We need their help. But they need our help as well—to get elected and then to hold their offices in order to fight for our rights, as workers, to bargain collectively and to maintain our middle-class way of life.
When it comes to joining a needed phone bank, attending a fund raiser for a political candidate we have endorsed, or someone to walk door-to-door in the hopes of getting a candidate we support elected to office, we often find ourselves – alone. The union staff, along with our small group of dedicated member-volunteers spends well over 12 hours each year to help those politicians and causes that benefit all the working families of our organization. The reality is this—we need help -- Your help.
Will you help? Can we count on you, brother or sister, to walk with us? To man the phone banks? To speak up when we need to be heard? To contribute $5, $10, or $25 dollars to labor endorsed candidates? What it will take to get YOU involved?
Call legislators when asked. Write letters to the editor, and send e-mails on the issues when you are asked to do so. Most importantly, on the local level know your city Assembly representatives on a first name basis.
Your thoughts are always appreciated. Respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to our latest radio advertisements.
At the bottom of this column, click on the audio program to hear Jry Lineman Roy Srb speak about his experience with the IBEW and its effect on his life in Cordova.
Also, take a listen to our Ketchikan Unit 104 E-board member and Journeyman Technician Sven Westergard speaking about his choices in becoming an IBEW apprentice and turning out as a highly skilled telecommunications technician living and working in Alaska.
Download: SvenWestergard Ketchikan v2.mp3