Proud to be a union man

Dear Editor:

I had to respond to Rich Wontor’s letter in the Aspen Times on March 2 (“They’re sucking us dry,” The Aspen Times) and his diatribe on unions.

The labor movement started in 1865 and was initiated by strikes that began because of wage cuts, the new inventions of machines, and the depersonalization of workers! Many strikers were beaten to death by goons with baseball bats and clubs that were hired by the huge companies and corporations that kept wages low and profits high. If it wasn’t for the formation of unions the same situation would exist today and the minimum wage might only be one dollar an hour and no benefits!

For your information, Rich, the labor forces you cry about have earned the right to be treated with dignity, decent wages and other benefits. There have been some bad unions and people, but there are bad people in lots of corporations, banks, investment firms, money managers, etc. who don’t deserve the millions and millions they get in bonuses. You mention police, firefighters, school teachers and others don’t they also deserve benefits? Even retired I’m still a union man like my father before me and have been for 50 years and I’m proud of that fact!

In the union construction-building trades we have four-year apprentice programs with schooling, training and testing, so when we do a job it is done properly. After World War II, I got into the GI Bill of rights program and became a sheet-metal worker and a member of the International Sheet Metal Workers Union and have earned over the 50 years lots of benefits including two pensions, one from my local and one from the International Union, and coupled with my Social Security make a modest living possible in Basalt.

Like the previously mentioned firefighters, police, construction workers die from accidents of all kinds! We work in rain, cold and not-so-nice places but we have a job to do so we endure! Now the right-wingers want to take rights and benefits away from the labor forces to cover the losses their mistakes have caused including Bush borrowing money from the Social Security Fund and starting two wars and Boehner said it was worth the price!

There is an effort by those same right-wingers in Washington, Wisconsin and Ohio to break unions, cut Medicare, Social Security and various benefits earned over many years by workers. Why didn’t these same people do something about outsourcing that took place on their watch? I can still remember (R) Gov. Chuck Percy when he was president of Bell and Howell and he started having their cameras and products manufactured in China! It seems too bad, Rich, that you can only pick on the working class of people that are the backbone of America! How big is your portfolio? I see you are worried about bond ratings along with other things; don’t worry, Rich, things are slowly getting better. Car sales were up 27 percent last month and the stock market is up over 12,000, so give it time.

By the way, the Bible tells us Jesus was a carpenter (non union) in his time. Would you have his rights taken away also?

Chris Tessem