Grit Nation

Fireside Chat - Joe Cadwell

October 29, 2021 Episode 15
Grit Nation
Fireside Chat - Joe Cadwell
Show Notes Transcript

fire·side chat

/ˈfī(ə)rˌsīd CHat/


  1. an informal conversation.

The Show Notes

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NW Carpenters Union
United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Regional Council in the Pacific Northwest

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Joe Cadwell:

I'm Joe Cadwell, writer, producer and host Grit Northwest, also the president of the Northwest carpenters union. And I want to welcome you to my first fireside chat. Consider this grid unplug session, no hype. No guests, just you and me sitting around and audio campfire having a chat. But we're basically I get to do all the talk, I'd like to start off with a few lessons I've learned while doing this podcast, lessons that have allowed me a clearer insight and the human nature, mechanisms of motivation, and the challenges I believe many unions are facing and mobilizing their members. Since starting the show, I discovered that getting people to act is surprisingly difficult. mistakenly, I assume listeners would be falling all over themselves to post reviews, join the grid nation, or submit their thoughts on future episodes. Not so much. The disconnect between someone listening and thank you for listening, and doing seems pretty vast, no fault of anyone. I just think it's a matter of time and priorities. This observation got me thinking on a larger scale, folks are too busy to click on a hyperlink to win a T shirt. How can union organizers realistically expect their members to attend meetings, participate in contract surveys or even vote? It's not to say there's no one doing these things? That often seems like it's the same people doing the ones who get it and understand what the union does. What's at stake if they know these individuals make sacrifices and prioritize their schedules and lives around things that really matter. Chances are if you're listening to this podcast right now, you fall into this category. Thanks for being that person. Reality is labor unions need engagement from all its members, not just the diehards, this is hugely important for them to prosper, strengthen, and continue to provide the standards of living we've all grown accustomed to. It's our responsibility to recognize and honor and protect these standards. I think we can do this in a number of ways. The first is to be a professional. Every time you lace up your boots, throw in your bags and pick up a hammer is your opportunity to show that gratitude to work hard to get the job done to prove you can work well with others to lead and to follow. Basically, we all chose to be union carpenters. No one forced us into this, many of us struggle to make a living on the non union side before joining the Brotherhood to better our lives and build a future for our families. And now I did also believe we can show our respect by educating ourselves and keep people aware of the many challenges facing our organization. Take time to read the newsletters, or visit the websites that provide resources and share stories designed to keep us informed and connected. Our council invest heavily to make this information available to you take advantage of it, not only will you be better informed, but you also develop pride in the fact that you have ownership in something greater than yourself. That was important as all this knowledge is only really part of the equation. real power comes from taking that information and doing something with it to mobilize and take action. An example of this are contracts, many of us take for granted the exemplary wage and benefits we have. mistakenly they believe they have no part in the process of negotiations, or perhaps even assuming someone else is doing it for them. You know, that brother over there who's always going to his local meetings, that sister keeps talking about how great her apprentice classes are. They must be doing it right doing the work of protecting my livelihood. I mean, I work hard, I pay dues. Isn't that enough? Well, yes and no. Sure your hard work is certainly appreciated. And yes, your dues keep the lights on at the hall and pay council salaries. But the hard cold reality is belonging to a union means more than just paying dues. It's like you join a gym and never once set foot inside the door. never bothered to pick up a weight or step out of treadmill just doesn't make sense. You me all of us need to be involved to do some of the heavy lifting and legwork to keep our unions healthy. Might be asking why? Well, whether you're aware of it or not this very minute there are lawyers working for greed driven corporations, which are pressuring lawmakers into passing legislation aimed at crippling organized labor and jeopardizing the working man and women's way of life. They use so called Right to Work laws to dismantle unions ability to collect dues from the very members they represent. thus enabling freeloaders to have all the benefits of dues paying members without contributing a cent. It's not fair. Then again these laws weren't meant to be prevailed wage laws are also under attack. These federal and state wage mandates create level playing fields for union contractors to bid work against non union counterparts. Not these protections, contract or simply can't compete. Boss contracts compromise jobs, which hamper our ability to provide for our families. These lost contracts also decrease our market share, further reducing our ability to collectively bargain for a living wages, medical benefits and safer working conditions. In addition to that wage theft of misclassification of workers are used by unscrupulous contractors to weaken our legitimate contractors ability to win bids and secure jobs. This continues to add to the carnage of our members bottom line. These attacks come from all sides and are relentless. That's where we come in members who truly give a grid at the risk of repeating myself. It's up to all of us to pitch in to get involved and to take ownership. So I'll finish up now with a story about a journey level Carpenter I met a few years ago, during lunch one day conversation arose about an upcoming delegate meeting. I was pretty excited to be going and look forward to meeting the other delegates and attending the council business. That's when this fella put down a sandwich looked me square in the eye and said he and his apprentice were anti union, anti union. Now I've heard a lot of folks over the years speak unfavorably about the union but anti union. Mind you this is the guy who earlier in the week told me about a beautiful 17 acre horse farm he owned a guy who was so proud of his daughter who just graduated from university and the same guy who was bragging about the new king cab pickup he just purchased. What do you do brother win the lottery? anti union. Good luck pulling that off working for 14 bucks an hour with no Benny's. So why was this guy so upset? Why the negative attitude? Well, it turns out some years ago was local is merged with another. He claimed that the international took all our money. When I asked him if his wages went down because of the merger, he said no. Same thing with his benefits and pension all still there. He carried resentment with him all these years on a misunderstanding of a business decision designed to strengthen and secure all our futures was pretty sad. his inability to see all the good things that the Union had provided for him. Even worse, he could see the poison he was spreading taking root and his young apprentice, a kid didn't stand a chance. That's just one story. Sure you have your own interactions with members in the field who never have a good word to say about anything or anyone. Least of all the union, fitter and burned out these brothers and sisters name only ever want to learn more about their organization or how they can work to better if they find it easier to point fingers complain and spread negativity than to get involved. Fortunately, they may never fully understand and appreciate what they have to lose. These living standards which we all benefit from are hard fought, need our protection. Don't believe for one second, there are people out there wanting to take them away. To make you work harder for less and make you fear for your job and your safety. To take away your ability to retire someday with dignity and pride. If right now, you can honestly say that your life is better since you join the union. Get involved. Don't make excuses. Don't rely on someone else to do it. Just get involved. Be part of the process. Be in the fight. When you do, don't think about what you have to gain. Think instead of what you have to lose. That's it for now. Thanks for listening. And until next time, remember to work safe, work smart and stay union strong.