December 2011

Letters to the Editor
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A Good Deed in Tuscon

My husband, James Timlin, was recruited as an inside apprentice by Tuscon Local 570 to work the Agua Caliente solar project early this year. He is very proud of his status as a unionized worker and is looking forward to turning out. A few months ago, a brother told him that over the weekend his daughter, her husband, and their two children were involved in a car accident. The brother's six-year-old grandson was killed and his daughter was badly injured. This hit home with my husband because we also have two children, one of them a six-year-old boy, and the day before we had replaced two tires on our car that were in danger of blowing out—which is what caused the fatal accident.

The next night my husband went around the site man to man and collected donations from his union brothers to help the family. When their boss, Federico, heard what he had done, he pulled out a checkbook and wrote a check on behalf of Conti construction to match the donations on the spot. My husband and the entire Agua Caliente crew were able to present the man with nearly $5,000 to help his family in their time of need, enough to cover the cost of the little boy's funeral.

Jessie Bryer-Timlin, wife of Local 570 member James Timlin
Tuscon, Ariz.

A Bad Deal? 

I am happy that I am 55 and 31 years in, I can retire. I feel sorry for my union brothers and sisters. Six hundred and sixty members out of work at the hall. Why do we not have work? We are in the insurance business. Why are we in the insurance business? You could say that we have good insurance, but that would mean that we are getting a good deal. But we are not getting a good deal, because we are paying $600 dollars a month. This is what we are charging the companies to hire us. This is why we do not have work. 

I think insurance is important. I do not think we should get rid of it. I think we should buy it on the open market. We work for the insurance company. They say that you didn't work enough to have insurance, but how do I pay for it when there is no work? We need to tell them to lower the cost or you are FIRED.

Get us out of the insurance business and get back to work. Anything we could do to lower the cost will help get more jobs, and not cut our wages. I feel that union electricians will go away if we don't fix this.

Gary Ogden, Local 481 member
Indianapolis, Ind.

Prescription for Recovery?

Joe the retired electrician is alive and still kicking. I am retired with a 403(b) and a conventional IRA, which have both taken a bashing with the down market and the bank problem.

I would like to propose three suggestions within the realm of the bailouts:

1. Extend the mandatory age of withdrawal for the 403(b) and the 401(k) and the conventional IRAs beyond 70½ without a penalty. This would help us get out of the window of the downturn so that we won't have to take such big losses in our retirement plans.

2. For an economic stimulus, allow people, in general, to withdraw from their 401(k), 403(b) and their contributory IRA without taxes and penalties so that then they would be closer to their original money and they possibly could pay down their debt or make necessary purchases.

3. Allow retirees to transfer or withdraw money from their 401(k), 403(b) or contributory IRA without taxes or a penalty.

There is $473 billion of could-be stimulus money in a 401(k) and 403(b) waiting to be used to pull this country out of this hole. IMMEDIATE ACTION = NECESSARY. WE NEED HELP! HELP! HELP! Help poor old Joe and yourself; write your Congress people. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Ray Zunino, Local 302 retiree
Martinez, Calif.