Weekend update…tier two, a seat at the table?

I went to a picnic yesterday sponsored by the union (in some fashion). I took my mother and my son and a whole bunch of food for the potluck. I don’t think I saw another single tier-two person there; I hardly knew anyone, in fact. And although meeting new people is not my favorite thing to do, it doesn’t stress me out too much. But the vibe was so unfriendly, that I left after a short time. I talked to a co-worker later on the phone and she told me that she was advised to stay away from that picnic, it would be all old-timers. I didn’t think that would be that bad, but it was. People were unfriendly: to me, my family and each other, it seemed like. We were told not to circulate petitions, which are to repeal the Emergency Manager act. The union asks us to contribute to V-CAP, but we’re not supposed to do the most basic boots-on-the-ground political work? That just seems weird. I’m a tier-two worker; I don’t have $60/month to contribute to buying political influence. Hell, if I did have it, I would think twice about it. But I sure can circulate petitions.

On a similar, but unrelated note, someone read this and approached me about doing a news story about the new generation of autoworkers. It was strange timing, the third or fourth person inside of a few days to express surprise that I was an autoworker under 40. I asked someone at the UAW about doing the story, since I’m trying not to lose my job over my big mouth. But when talking to my aunt about it, she pointed out that the UAW is not trying to publicize our existence, we tier-two folks. The rumor going around about the latest contract is that we only get half a vote. Like 3/5 of a person. I doubt that’s true; at least I hope to hell it’s not true. But we stepchildren and the traditional folks who are getting screwed out of their bitter years of seniority need to keep in mind that we have much more in common than those in charge would care to have us remember.

I heard that people from the truck plant have been reading “Stepchild”, and maybe a few from Jefferson. If so, I hope you all take to heart that you’re headed into a place with a lot of people being similarly shit on. I know a lot of people are used to being shuffled around, and losing seniority, but are still pissed about it. I certainly understand the anger. There’s plenty to go around, for all kinds of reasons. Let’s make something productive of it. Let’s build, ourselves, a stronger union. Let’s make our plant a better place, let’s make our lives better. I heard that Detroit was the Promised Land. Let’s call in that promise.

In Solidarity,

Stepchild in the Promised Land.


About Stepchild in the Promised Land: Notes from a Tier-Two Autoworker

A third-generation Detroiter, Wayne State grad, mother and tier-two autoworker.
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