The wealthy are stomping the middle class down to the level of the working poor. That’s how I feel about this entire Wabtec deal. The union is fighting for future Erie workers not simply current employees. And here’s a secret, I’m not exactly an all pro-union person. I get it. Unions aren’t perfect.
But they are at least attempting to keep middle-class jobs in Erie. So for those of you who are bashing the union for not bowing and curtsying in thankfulness to Wabtec for grandfathering current workers in with higher wages and screwing future workers, stop reading. This is my blog and my opinion.
Even if you stay, and that is a very big if, you are simply offering our city low-income jobs. Period. There may be some employees grandfathered in at higher rates, but eventually, the only people who will be making a good wage on Wabtec products and services are people higher up the Wabtec ladder.
Who will you attract to take a $20 an hour job in a factory where it is sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter? Once minimum wage increases to $15 an hour (and it eventually will) what kind of a person will take your job over easier jobs?
Mr. Sbrocco, you taunt you’ve offered 150 options to the union. Eh, you’ve merely restated the same offer in 150 different ways. The truth? In order to remain competitive in this world, you want to do so by keeping extremely high wages for upper management and lowering wages for everyone else.
Because, THAT, is corporate America in a nutshell.
To the union
You are more important today than you ever were in the past.
But you are not without error. You can’t support employees who do not deserve to be supported. You also must not succumb to your own power. And you must be absolutely open and honest with membership. (Post daily updates even if only a few sentences.)
To those who doubt unions defend middle-class America
Back in the 1950s, my father, Pat Filutze, was fired when his trucking company brought in a new boss. That man fired all of the Italians and African Americans. The Teamsters Union Local 397 stepped in and fought. My father got his job back.
My dad was a hard, hard worker. People eventually asked him to run for president of local 397. He did not feel qualified. He had quit school in eighth grade to help support his brothers and sisters. So instead, he ran for trustee and supported Joe Santone for president. Joe and my father were elected and served together twenty-four years before my father retired from both his full-time, truck-driving position and his part-time trustee position.
My father was far from rich, but he lived a good, decent life because of that union. AND that’s why we need unions. They support decent, living-wage jobs.
To Erie leaders
To the County Executive and Mayor, I like the two of you. You know I do. I’ve worked with both of you. But you can’t sit on your hands and hope this Wabtec problem resolves itself. Economic development is the survival of the fittest.
Instead of visiting China and arguing over a community college, please let the public know what you are doing for economic development in Erie so we can support you. (Have I missed an article on this? I’ve been out of town much in the past two years. Please tell me I have.) A trip to Silicon Valley would make more sense than China. Has anyone met with leaders in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Des Moines, Iowa, Boise, Idaho, or Provo, Utah whose business grew from 2011-2016 (https://www.inc.com/business-insider/35-up-and-coming-cities-with-job-opportunities.html.) (Anyone know of other northern cities surviving the erosion of the middle class? Please post articles in the comments below.)
You hired someone at the Chamber who purported to increase jobs and capital in another American city. “According to the chamber, Grunke has a track record of achievement. During his tenure with the Missoula Economic Partnership, the region added 10,000 new jobs and attracted nearly $1 billion in capital investment.” https://www.goerie.com/news/20180810/erie-chamber-names-new-ceo#
Were those low-income jobs?
“Bozeman and Missoula have fared well in terms of overall job growth, but their typical wages are actually below the state average — $35,900 in Bozeman and $35,500 in Missoula (including Ravalli County).” https://www.missoulacurrent.com/business/2018/11/montana-jobs/
We do not need more low-income jobs. We need decent, living-wage jobs.
(Somebody PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong about this. I truly want to be wrong. If you find a better article, please post the link in the comments below. I WANT better news.)
The “don’t-go-there” line
There is a line between the rich and poor that I refer to as the “don’t-go-there” line. I call it that because nobody wants to talk about it.
The concept is simple really. The people above the line have no income problems, and the people below the line can barely make ends meet. Some can’t at all.
Here’s the greedy secret: The people above the line WANT to keep the people below the line right where they are. In fact, they want to push more people below that line because it means more for them. They also spend their entire lives pulling their own kids and friends and friend’s kids above the line.
My advice to anyone still reading is do everything you can to get your kids above that line because the eroding of the middle class is happening. With right-to-work states, the fall of unions, political bailouts, CEO bonuses, and make-America-great-again profiteers, our middle-class kids are in for the struggle of their lives. My husband and I tugged and pulled and broke our backs to get our kids above that line. I hope you will, too.
Oh, and by the way, all three of our kids had to move out of Erie to break into that top half of the “don’t-go-there” line. Go figure.
Cyndie Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator, and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, LinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.