The following was written and read by an IBEW 824 member at the General Meeting Friday night:
I've had a job since I was 16. I had to start paying for health insurance when I was 21. It wasn't cheap either. Every time I got a raise the insurance premiums would go up. It didn't matter what company it was they would give with one hand and take with the other. I'm sure you have all been there too.
I only have 8 years here. I have 22 to go to retire at age 58. When I applied for this job it was because of the excellent pay, the awesome benefits like medical being covered at 100%, the companies contributions to retirement and so on. I thought verizon really cared about their employees to have benefits like that. After I got the job I quickly learned that the pay and benefits were because of the hard work, the dedication and solidarity of the union membership before me. Without the union this job would be just like the others I had before. When I was in college I never imagined making this much money with these kinds of benefits.
It should be the #1 thing on everyone's mind that your pay and benefits that you are accustom to are about to start going down the toilet. We will take a pay cut if the company gets their way. It will cost more to see the dr, to visit the ER or even have outpatient surgery. If they are being this aggressive about medical and pensions do you think they are going to dish out average wage increases. When I started top pay was $23.16/hr. now its $27.86/hr. thats an increase of $4.70/hr over the last 8 years. Do you really think that wages are going to continue that trend? If it does we will be making close to $40/hr in 20 years. Sounds great right? Not to the company. Do you really think we are going to be making that in 20 years. That would be nice. But the company says the rest of society pays for health insurance so you should too. The competitions employees pay for health insurance and don't make anything near what we make. I bet the company would love to keep more money by leveling that out. Next they'll say that we don't need any wage increases, the rest of society doesn't make that much so you shouldn't either. I don't believe we are going to get wage increases that will offset the cost of their proposals. Do you? You may think that the company's healthcare proposals aren't that much to pay, but what about the next contract when we go through this all over again and they want to take more money from us. They will try to take everything away every time.
In the next 20 years if we all don't pull together and be a union brotherhood we WILL be just like the rest of society, paying through the nose for insurance, have no pension and be nickel and dimed by the rich company that we bust our backs for. Its not only OUR future but your kids depend on you and its their future too. If you are able to put your kids through college, thank the union, because the company couldn't careless.
If the current membership was the same membership 20 years ago you can bet your house we wouldn't be making the money we make now or have the great benefits we have now. We don't have all this because 30% of the membership stood together, we have what we have now because 100% of the membership stood together. So when u think your participation isn't going to make a difference remember this, a team will never win if only half of the members participate or give a damn. So if you are not participating or you don't give a damn, you should take your head out of the ground, wipe the dirt off your face and start acting like you are a part of this union. Because incase you didn't know, they want to take money from you and your family too.
Everyone shows up early for payday meetings but can't show up at the hall once a month or even once every two months. Or hang a message from your mirror or wear a wrist band to show the company that we are all here and we are all going to stick together.
If you don't support the efforts of the union then why are you even a member. Why are u giving your money to an organization that you don't support. Oh because you pay union dues and that should be enough you say? WRONG! Our union dues alone didn't get us the benefits we have right now. It's not money or union staff that wins contracts its the membership. It's the dedication, hard work and solidarity that wins contracts. If only half the players on a team give a damn the team will never win.
It takes every one of us to make it happen. So quit being so hardheaded. Lets pull together and show this company, that we are all standing together and we are not going to accept their proposals. That's what it took to get what we have now. Thats what it's going to take to keep it. I'm not willing to give it all back. Are you?
Those are my thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
I hope it sinks in.