It Pays to Belong

As many of you have seen since the first of 2013 the company (Spirit) has staged an assault on the salaried employees. As many as 150 employees have been “dismissed” for poor performance. A large number of those affected were long time employees with many years of seniority and no documentation of work performance issues. One example I’m familiar with was a 59 year old employee with 36 years seniority and no performance issues on record. In a matter of one month, he was informed by his manager & H.R. that his performance had dropped enough to warrant him to be placed on a “coaching plan”.

Basically, from what I have observed when H.R. & management place an individual on a “coaching plan” it’s the kiss of death. It’s just a procedure to lay the ground work for termination. There’s no way, usually, the individual affected could improve enough to make it. With that said, this person was let go within a month of being placed on the “plan”. Not only was it bad enough to be let go, but to add insult to injury he was escorted out in front of his former co-workers and peers. As this story is being written I’ve read in the newspaper that SPEEA has filed charges to the NLRB for wrongful terminations and other charges.

Obviously, grievances have been filed by SPEEA on behalf of these people. As this writer would like to note, they have one problem about a 40% union membership. It would appear that Spirit doesn’t feel like they have to respect their contract or people because they are exploiting loopholes. This is a challenge to their union to prove they are capable of winning their protests. When the I.A.M. LL839 has their monthly meetings and the membership numbers are read we have to realize where we stand with the company. 60% membership is just enough to hold them at bay. It’s in the writers opinion that if Local 839 were to fall below the 50% range, the daily work environment could change rather quickly.

I’ve been asked by my peers if our contract protects the hourly workforce from such treatment that the salaried employees have been receiving. My answer to them as their union steward is yes; we have fought for many years to have a thing called job security. Job security, though, is a fragile thing- it’s only as good as the people who are willing to fight for it. Whenever you have people who expect the same thing as the union members but who are unwilling to pay for it, then this just creates a tougher situation for all involved. Our
contract has language in it that states how surplus activity will be handled and retention language was eliminated. The company must honor this. Believe me when I say that the company would like to find ways to circumvent this.

You have all heard non member’s state comments on why they won’t join the union. It all adds up to ONE common thing they want something for nothing because it’s easier to freeload. Let someone else worry about it. I once asked a SPEEA represented employee about their upcoming contract and they didn’t even acknowledge it. Basically the attitude was that they could get where they wanted to be without a union or being a member. I doubt they feel that way today. This is why, as you have heard through the years, the statement “it pays to belong”.

By Lester Adcock