Flint spark plug workers

This will be my last message until at least Friday the 17th as I will be busy most of the day tomorrow the 16th. My morning will start out by handing out fliers at a Delphi plant here in Michigan (I can't tell you where right now) to test the waters on handing out SOS material. The only question that I have is who will ask me to leave first, union officials or security. Yes, yes I know that I'm being pessimistic on this one but I still have to follow my gut feeling.

In the afternoon I will be in Flint mourning with the membership on the sellout of the spark plug business. I will mourn because this great loss affects each and every one of us. These are more jobs that our children and grandchildren will never be allowed to earn a decent living at. Gone, just like that!!!

The weather forecast for tomorrow is miserable. Snow, freezing rain, rain and then more snow. I'm retired and you might ask why I'm doing this? I could just roll over and go back to sleep. No, I won't do that. I will support the workers in any way that I can. And, am I not a dissident? I always strive to be the best that I can be.

I hired into Saginaw Steering Gear in 1965. My starting hourly wage was $2.62 an hour. After 90 days I could join the union (and did) and my pay rate was $2.96 an hour plus 5 cents per hour COLA. Sounds crazy doesn't it? One year later when I got drafted into the Army I was making $2.96 an hour plus 5 cents per hour COLA, the same as when I joined the union.

Over the years we fought for our gains and in 1970 I was on strike for 80 days. We fought and would strike when necessary to have what you and I have today. The company didn't just hand over these gains because we were good old boys. We fought and struck for these gains. Have you ever been on strike for long periods of time and have to live off strike wages? It hurts, it hurts real bad. But, down the road it is forgotten about as we all enjoy the gains. We had a union who would hear our VOICE and then do what had to be done.

What we did in the past and how we came to what we're enjoying today has been long forgotten by a lot of our union brothers and sisters and indeed our UAW IEB also. Many of the things that we retirees went on strike for are being handed back to the companies. Our union listened to us and we gained. Now our union won't listen to us and we lose.

I would pose this question to the membership. Who lost more on the latest givebacks, the workers or the retirees? My answer would be the workers. Not only did they lose $2000 a year for the rest of their working careers, they also lost $750 in health care costs per year when they do retire. This "fast track" selling gimmick by the UAW IEB cost you dearly. The Finger and his crew got into your back pocket. We always protected the retirees because we knew and understood the sacrifices and hardships that they had to endure for what we were enjoying while we were working. We knew that we would enjoy those benefits when we retired also. Never before had the retirees taken concessions.

Do I blame you for this? No, I don't. These concessions were "fast tracked" and forced down your throats. You must never allow this to happen again. When we lose part of our retirements, you are selling off part of your future retirement. If you won't stand up and be heard, who will stand up for you and be heard when you're retired???? Think about it!!! FORCE the UAW IEB to hear your VOICE. Don't allow them to cut out my heart and soul by giving back what I have fought for. YOU ARE THE UNION. You pay dues to be heard.

The Finger came out with a statement that HE was to be held accountable for the last round of concessions. Well dah!! Who does he think that I was holding accountable for them? You, my mother, my wife or children? I was holding the right person accountable.

No more "fast track" voting on contracts. Give the membership the highlights and lowlights of the contract. YOU, the membership have to DEMAND this. If YOU set back and expect everyone else to take care of it for YOU, all that I can say is enjoy the life that YOU once had. WE, the retirees fought for what YOU have. YOU decide if YOU want to FIGHT to keep it. It's YOUR choice now. I will help YOU in any way that I can, But YOU have to stand up and FIGHT, each and everyone of YOU. WE the retirees FOUGHT and we WON. Now it's YOUR turn. Roll over and be RAPED or FIGHT. YOU must decide.

              In Solidarity
              John Goschka
              Local 699 Retiree