Friday, March 18, 2011

Personal Stories Matter

Well, the good news is, workers have a temporary reprieve today, as the judge put a temporary restraining order on the budget repair bill. It's good to see that our checks and balances still function. Yet another reminder to elect a good justice for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 5th.

If it's one thing I'm grateful for, it's the fact that so many ordinary people continue to speak out this spring. I received this email last night from Patricia. She asked that I keep her last name off the letter.

Dear Joe

Thank you for your taking the time to write something so inspiring and so beautiful. And thank you for taking the time to come and stand with us in our fight for our rights. I am the mother of one of those snow plow drivers. The wife of a retired teamster, the daughter of parents that both belonged to a union and retired from their unions. I myself belonged to a union for 31 years before I went to a large corp. to work in their distribution center. I was very much moved by your letter as I do believe in unions. I started working in a factory when I was 19 years old. I left a state office job for $1,65/hr to have this union factory job for $1.91/hr. Just a few months after I started I was going to be laid off so I was allowed to bump a man with less seniority to keep my job. That was in 1967 and I remember it all too well.

When I started working at the factory the jobs were classified as "mens' jobs" and "womens' jobs". Because the union had obtained equal rights for us, I was able to stay working because I bumped a lower seniority man. It wasn't easy, management did whatever they could to make it rough for any woman that chose that route. Again my union came to my aid. Management refused to help train me stating if I bumped into a job I had to know how to preform it. Many of the men were on the side of management. Many nights I would go home in tears. Never did I cry at work, and I always put up a fight and brought in the union. We women won that fight, and we women fought it together. It was a long hard fight at that time and when you put those words into your letter I couldn't help but recall those horrible days of the 60's.My son (the snow plow driver) refers to me and the women I worked with as "the pioneers for womens' rights". He has always been proud of me for the part that I played in this important time in history. And I am just as proud of him. As well as my own heritage and my parents work ethics and their expectations of me and my siblings.

My son was a limited term employee for over 4 years before being hired on as full time as a public employee. He endured many layoffs and hard times, including no benefits for that entire time. I continued to encourage him to stay with it even when he'd get so discouraged he wanted to quit. His dad and I took on a large medical bill when he didn't have insurance as an LTE. He was devastated that we had to pay his bill, but we continued to tell him he had to stay with it. Monday March 14 ( his father's birthday) he marked his 17th year as a full time public employee. He is one that, when he goes to work, gives all he has. I know that, as one of the supervisors told him one day that he worked just like his grandpa, my dad, and I know my dad was a hard worker. It hurts to think people say things about these workers although I know as you said sometimes it is true.

I tell my son it doesn't matter what people do - there are always those people that will take advantage of the system and make it bad for others. I can tell you there are many times that when he is plowing 16 hr. straight then goes home and does his own shoveling and showers and goes to bed only to get up 5 hrs later to start another possible 16 hr. day sometimes as many as 4 or 5 days back to back that I am worried sick about him. I've even asked him to not go in and his answer always is "mom, this is one thing that was asked of me when I interviewed for the job" Several employees, once they got in, would pick and choose when they would want to work even though it is supposed to be mandatory for all it was never enforced. Therefore putting a strain on the ones that would hold to their agreement. It angers me but yet I am proud of him.

It angers me even more that people have no idea how tired and worn out some of these people get to make sure the public can get to their workplaces. What's even more disturbing is that many think the money is so great. Well, it can be I'll agree to that, but not with that many hours of overtime, since much of overtime is taxed so heavy. The media and Mr. Walker tend to stretch the truth some as my son has always paid into his pension. His sick time (which he rarely ever has used) will most likely be lost because he is a good employee.

It's sad what has happened to the American Worker. We have 6 children, all grown, all who have jobs and have always been expected to have a job. They were taught, as was I, that if you want something you have to work for it. As I stated before I am proud of my heritage and I'm proud that we have passed that heritage on to our children. I have protested along side of my son and along side of my brother on weekdays as we are both now retired. I continue to tell my son the fight isn't over, we've only lost the battle not the war. Isn't it amazing all the states that are in this together.

I like to believe that we are now not only Americans in the United States but that we are the Americans Uniting the States. And again I thank you for your kind words and courageous stand. I am making a copy of your letter to give to my son and on the days that he may feel let down by his fellow Americans he will know that there are people out there that do believe in him and what he does. And that being said before I go I want to add that, even more-so, I feel for the teachers and the children who will truly lose out if we doc not correct this wrong.

Thank you again,