March 2010

From the Officers
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Real Life in Ohio

Here’s a snapshot of life in the North America of 2010 from Ohio, one of our hardest-hit areas:

Nick Comstock was more than willing to recommend his members approve giving the AFL-CIO’s community services agency room in their local union hall for a food pantry to help unemployed union members.

But Comstock, business manager of Dayton, Ohio, Local 82, is still angry that hard-working men and women are forced to swallow their pride just to feed their families. Ruined lives are everywhere around him.

In 2006, Local 82 merged with the local that represented 60 manufacturing members from A.O. Smith, a producer of small appliances. Only 11 workers are left at the plant that once employed 900. The Dayton region has lost 55,000 jobs since 2000.

It wasn’t so long ago that Dayton was a hotbed of tool and dye making plants. When General Motors shut down its one there in December 2008, none were left.

The membership of the Dayton-Miami Valley AFL-CIO has plummeted from 36,000 to 5,000. The United Way sold its building and now Comstock is making plans to move Executive Director Wes Wells into the Local 82 hall. Last year, says Wells, the pantry gave out food for 270,000 meals to families, many of whom were once sustained by good-paying jobs at General Motors and Delphi.

Out of 870 inside wiremen, Local 82 has 190 out of work. That’s a better percentage than many others, but it’s small consolation in a broken industrial landscape.

Last week—up the street from the union hall—Comstock passed a picket line outside one of the few manufacturing facilities left in Dayton. Machinists there hadn’t struck in 39 years, but now they were fighting for their jobs. The company wasted no time lining up buses to carry replacement workers through the gates. He’s offered the local’s help.

We can all be proud that Nick Comstock and Local 82, like so many others in our Brotherhood, are always there with open doors and open arms for those who are hurting and struggling.

But our unemployed brothers and sisters need more than our charity. They need their union now more than ever to fight for a continent that manufactures things again. We all need to take up the cause.


Also: Hill: Accountability

Lindell K. Lee
International Secretary-Treasurer