President and Shop Chair
Brothers and Sisters,
As I’ve been contemplating a President’s Pen for the start of 2019, I have been torn between what the subject should be. I try to be thankful every day and I think some of that comes with age and life experiences. We have seen numerous brothers and sisters pass on through this life to the next. Perry Potter was instrumental in helping organize and mold UAW Local 5285 early on. Perry was our first Financial Secretary and also served on our first Bargaining Committee. His words and actions along with a lot of others helped build this “Great Union”.
In Feb. 1993 I started a new job here at Freightliner, I was 26 years old, married and had a 7 month old son. I, like many others here, had a responsibility to my family. See, I came from a non union shop called Getrag Gears (now it is GKN) where almost every day we faced intimidation and threats of being fired. When I found out my wife was pregnant my boss came and told me he had me now and he wouldn’t have to worry about me causing problems or I would be paying for all those doctor’s bills. We were repeatedly pulled out of the clock out line if we didn’t meet production and told if we went home to not come back. When your income feeds, clothes and provides shelter, you have responsibility to your family. I made up my mind that when my son was born I would find another job. I took a step of faith and applied at Mt. Holly and was hired. I gave up 1st shift and took a cut in pay to come to a Union Shop and spend a lifetime on 2nd shift (everybody was told not to ever expect to go to 1st shift). The deciding factor was a Union Shop provided a more level playing field and respect at Mt Holly was a whole lot more likely.
See, Brother Potter was not the only one that stood up when it counted but I want to give him and all the others thanks and my family’s gratitude for allowing me to make a living for my family while having dignity and a voice in the workplace. Many of us have been through layoffs and have raised our families on “union wages and benefits”. I hope and pray that the next generation has the opportunity to raise their families on union wages and has a love in their heart for this great union and the betterment of this world through organized labor. I want to see my co-workers have an opportunity to earn a living wage with health care and a pension.
So in closing I want to thank the ones that stood up and risked their jobs for a right to collectively bargain wages, rights and working conditions.
Proud Member of the Greatest Union,
One last thing for Perry- GO VOLS!!
President/Shop Chair UAW 5285