Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Gas Workers Need a Union
at 3:55 AM
Contact Alex Lotorto, IWW Union Delegate, Pittsburgh General Membership Branch, Safety Committee Member for more information or help. 570-269-9589
Throughout Pennsylvania history, rural residents have been employed by rich and powerful company owners. Producing coal, timber, steel, and cement, the workers have come from many different countries and spoken many different languages. Still, there is one thing that industrial workers always had in common:
The thoughtfulness and will to fight together as a labor union to improve their conditions, protect their health, raise their pay, and win the eight-hour work day.
We deserve jobs that are going to stick around, pay an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, and don’t require us to hurt our health, our family’s health, or the places in which we live.
Most of all, rural PA workers deserve better than the natural gas industry. We need our farms back in working order, our tourism booming, and green industries like wind, solar, geothermal, and green construction. America is more innovative than any other country in the world and we can put our people to work responsibly. The only way to change it is to organize together and fight to improve our jobs and communities.
A different dark cloud, but the same old weather.
On December 8th, 2010, a truck used to haul Marcellus waste water exploded killing a fellow worker, Gregory Bish, 26 years old, leaving behind his family and fiance. The valve in the back of the tanker had frozen shut and he was using an open flame against it. The explosion blew him 60 feet over a 7 foot high fence.
Clearly, waste trucks are hauling a more dangerous substance than sand and salty water if they can explode like that. More importantly, no one comes to work to risk their life, but too many gas industry workers have paid the ultimate price.
In Pennsylvania, we know this history from the coal mines.
There is Power in a Union
In Pennsylvania, the history of labor unions starts right here, in Northeast Pennsylvania, in the coal mines from the 1800s, throughout the last century. All over this region, miners were forced to live with their families in small company villages, under complete control of the company-owned general store, the mine bosses, and the Coal Mine Police.
Like you, they risked their lives on the job, suffering injuries, black lung disease and pain on the regular just to put food on the table.
Like you, they had no reasonable choice of other work. It was “mine coal, or hit the road,” because other decent jobs were few and far between.
Like you, they came from many different walks of life, in their case, different countries in Europe.
Like the gas industry, Big Coal was given enormous subsidies and tax breaks to exist, but much of that money remained at the top with J.P. Morgan, the big coal baron of Pennsylvania at the time. Now, guys like Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Enegry, drink $10,000 bottles of wine as you toil in drilling mud through the heat, rain, and snow.
Like you, the miners started to realize that it doesn’t have to be this way.
One Big Union, the Wobblies
My union, the Industrial Workers of the World, is a union for all workers. Since 1905, lumber jacks, miners, roughnecks, mill workers, truckers, dock workers, construction workers, farm workers, and even fast food workers have been members. We don’t organize based on trade, we organize based on all industries. Everyone is welcome.
We also do NOT endorse candidates or political parties. The only politics we engage in are on the job. We do NOT take money out of your paycheck for dues like other unions, we collect dues individually, based on ability to pay, and the money is only used when approved by a vote of the local union branch. Unlike other unions, we don’t have union bosses and we don’t pay our organizers. We are workers too, and we demand that everything be democratically run.
Most of all, we are willing to work with you to change any aspect of the job, not just organize for a union contract. Together, we can independently monitor safety investigations, represent you and your families in labor relations and unemployment compensation hearings, and help you hold meetings with fellow workers to decide what changes are most important to you.
Sign a Union Card Today!
If you’re interested in finding out more about the IWW, you can check out our website www.iww.org . There is also a great documentary on Google Video you can find called “The Wobblies” that will tell you our history. Most of all, your local IWW delegate is Alex Lotorto and you can call him any time, day or night, to ask questions and set up a meeting to sign a union card. 570-269-9589
Preamble to the IWW Constitution
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all. Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."
It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.