Today we honor the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
I am a native American, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, and by definition, a minority. I'm of mixed blood descent, but Native American nevertheless. I am also an Operating Engineer, a union heavy equipment operator for 43 years. I am union by choice, and I know the difference. Because I choose to work as a union member, I draw good wages, health insurance and belong to a defined benefit pension plan.
Because of my Union affiliation, I have never experienced job discrimination of any kind. Heavy construction is not an easy way of life. By age 55 an operator can expect to experience significant joint and back problems, hemorrhoids and skin and eye damage from thousands of hours of direct sunlight. The health problems are considerably worse if one smokes and/or drinks, and many do both. I personally have had several broken bones, nerve damage to my hands, and suffered a broken neck and nose while working, Thanks to the very best medical care, due to my union health benefits, I am fit and in good health.
Currently, as a union member and average voting constituent, I personally, and every other hourly worker in Missouri have our family security and our way of life under direct assault by the very Missouri Legislature that was elected to represent our collective best interests. The so called "right to work" bill that was rushed through both Houses this week is on its way to Governor Nixon. To his credit, he has promised to veto it. The Combined House will attempt an override, but doesn't appear to have the votes.
It is time for people like me and every worker in Missouri to forget about Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, union, nonunion, ethnicity or any other selfish label. We must think and vote as workers. And vote every time. It's that simple. If we elect people who will make it a priority to support living wage jobs with benefits, a lot of other issues will take care of themselves. We are all members of the same party.
It's called LABOR.
Dan Ballard, Local 101
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