Something I Wrote in 2015 as President of USW Local 12-6

Dear represented employee,

My name is Matt Cantrell, and I have been elected by the United Steel Workers (USW) membership as President of USW Local 12-6. I now represent all Operations and Maintenance (O&M) members and non-members working for Chevron USA, Inc. and Production Operators with AERA Energy LLC., in Midway Sunset. For the next three years, I will work with management personnel from both of our companies to make sure that the represented personnel are treated fairly and equitably and have the necessary supplies, equipment, knowledge, and management support to complete their daily jobs.

Our local Union has been around for one hundred years. It is the reason people like you and me make the wages we do and have the benefits that our company offers us. In my belief, even if you don’t intend on being a represented employee forever, our membership sets the pay scale of management. Without the Union fighting for the pay and benefits our members get now, management would not receive the higher wages that they receive. Higher pay is one of the biggest reasons for being in management in the first place! Ask the non-union, non-management business partners what they get paid per hour and I bet you will be surprised.

Imagine being called into the boss’s office for your yearly salary discussion. Imagine being called into the boss’s office for questioning about something that you could be disciplined for. Imagine going into the boss’s office and being told you’re being moved to another less desirable position or laid off when there are people with less seniority than you. Imagine being fired for something that, at best, warranted progressive discipline.

Guess what? Your Union has stopped all of that. The Union negotiates your salary and yearly raises, making it difficult for the company to give good raises to their buddies and poor raises to all others. Your Union representative can legally be there, and is equal to management, when management calls you into the office for possible discipline, making it hard for the company to “make things up” in a disciplinary hearing.

Your Union has negotiated local seniority rights to give your time with the company some meaning and clout, making it difficult for the company to give your job away to their buddies. Your Union will fight to make sure that appropriate discipline is utilized and dished out fairly. These are just a few things the Union handles for you. Without the Union, what do you have? It is my sincere belief that without the Union, you will have the opposite of what I described.

Guess who makes up the Union? When I talk about the Union, I am talking about all of our represented folks. You. You do. You make up the Union. Without you, we are just individuals fighting for our piece of the corporate pie. That piece of corporate pie is way beyond any individual. Your boss has corporate human resources, corporate attorneys, his/her boss, their boss’s bosses, and the proverbial unlimited financial backing of your company, to complete his/her objective. Without the Union, without us together, what do you have to take on this behemoth? Do you want to rely solely on government protection from a massive, global corporation? Where does this leave you? The thought of being without a Union for protection causes me, and hopefully you, to cringe.

I realize that legally and ethically our Union must represent all dues paying and non-dues paying members equally to the best of our ability. I wonder sometimes what it will be like when the Union is no longer here to represent any of you. Where will we be then? Where will we be when there is no
contract with the company? Where will we be when the company can change its policies including pay, discipline, job locations, etc., literally, on a whim without notifying you or getting your input?

If you are a dues-paying member, I want to thank you for being a part of our Union and helping us to attain the pay, benefits, and job protections we have now. For those who are not dues-paying members, please consider joining the United Steel Workers (USW). Join us in making sure that we continue to be able to negotiate our pay, benefits, and the job protections that come with being unionized. Without you, our mission becomes much more difficult. Without you, we become reliant on our companies to make financial and benefit decisions for us and our families without any input from us. Without you, we lose the fight.

Finally, I hate to be the guy to bring up all the bad things a company can do, when the companies we work for do a lot of good, so don’t get me wrong. I am in a position where I deal with contract negotiations, discipline, job movements, terminations, and such, so I see the bad that our companies can do because it is placed in my lap.

But, I know our companies have excellent pay opportunities, good benefits, donate lots of money to local charities, provide excellent retirement programs, and pay high taxes in Kern County. I am thankful to our companies for giving us our high paying jobs and I am equally thankful to my Union for doing its part in making sure the job stays high paying and is fair to its employees.

I am proud to be a United Steelworker and I am proud to serve as your President. I look forward to representing you in a way that not only protects our jobs with our companies but also makes sure that we, along with our co-workers, go home safe every day.

As always, should you have questions or comments regarding this, or any other matter, please feel free to contact me on my personal cell phone at 661-889-5714, or my work cell phone at 661-979-5021, or by email at [email protected].

In solidarity,

Matt Cantrell
President USW Local 12-6