October 31, 2014

There is no ‘me’ in ‘union’

By Assistant President Arty Martin

As I travel the nation attending local and regional meetings, I am often asked, “What has the union done for me?”

Brothers and sisters, there is no “me” in “union.” Your union cannot make agreements for one individual, or a small sector of the seniority roster.

It has long been the practice of the UTU to make agreements that protect all members — from the youngest to the oldest on the seniority roster.

In unity, there is strength in numbers. Union is about bringing together, unifying, combining and blending.

By working together — mobilizing, collecting facts and speaking collectively in a single and strong voice — we have achieved gains that could not be possible otherwise.

A union is about the collective power of strength on behalf of all its members — protecting all members from discrimination of any form, making each of us a contractual employee rather than an employee at will, ensuring the right to a given job as defined by the collective bargaining agreement, and providing health and retirement benefits beyond what is found in other industries.

As we face inevitable change from technological discoveries and economic cycles, our membership has specific needs that the union works to satisfy at the bargaining table, in grievances, and before regulatory agencies, state legislatures and Congress.

Assuring equal protection for all members is the objective. As elected officers at all levels strive to achieve that objective, we must consider the entire membership and not one individual or a small group on the seniority roster.

The more active and involved local members are, the stronger the local, general committee, state legislative board and International will be.

It is essential that every member be active in their local, understand our collective bargaining agreements and learn to document carrier violations by making detailed notes of events, the exact location, who said what and witnesses.

By attending union meetings our members gain a better understanding of how a union works on behalf of its members.

It is the carrier that attempts to reduce or eliminate jobs, benefits and improved working conditions. Without the UTU, carriers would have a free hand in replacing you with someone willing to work for less, for fewer benefits and under less safe working conditions.

The next time you hear a disgruntled union brother or sister say what the heck has the union done for me, please respond in support of your union.

Together, through preparation and hard work, we must continue — with fire in the belly — the fight for what is right. But we must do it collectively with one voice and behalf of every member.

The UTU is unique in the labor movement. We are structured from the bottom up, meaning that you, as a member, vote for and elect your local representatives, who, in turn, elect general committee officers, state legislative directors and International officers.

This form of representation has served our members well.

Moving forward, we must continue to have solid, active members and locals to continue to provide the quality jobs, wages, benefits and protections that the UTU is known for.