And it has little to do with mediation.
Monday started for me with some internet job searches and a surprising phone call. It was a producer from CNBC who had seen some quotes I had in an article on CNN Money. I had written the CNN site about their inaccurate coverage of events. I was amazed at the 'blame the union' framing of several of their articles, so I wrote the author and ended up quoted in the next piece, which was a much more realistic interpretation of events.
Mike Hummell, a receiving clerk and a member of the Bakers' union working in Lenexa, Kan., said he was making about $48,000 in 2005 before the company's first trip through bankruptcy. Concessions during that reorganization cut his pay to $34,000 last year, earning $16.12 an hour. He said the latest contract demands would have cut his pay to about $25,000, with significantly higher out-of-pocket expenses for insurance.The CNBC woman had read the quotes and wanted to see what I thought a week later. She listened closely and respected my opinions. She then asked me to go on Closing Bell in the afternoon. So on Monday I burned some of my 15 minutes! I start at around 2:30 but the whole thing is about Hostess.
"The point is the jobs they're offering us aren't worth saving," he said Friday. "It instantly casts me into poverty. I wouldn't be able to make my house payment. My take-home would be less than unemployment benefits. Being on unemployment while we search for a new job, that's a better choice than working these hours for poverty wages."
CNBC Hostess Liquidation Hearing VIDEO I can't seem to embed it, hopefully the link works.
Overall I think I handled myself pretty well. I feel really good about having a chance to describe the way the money has been stolen from us through the pension.
A lot of people seem to think this mediation thing is a big deal. Mostly because they see an 'opportunity to save jobs'. There will be no yes vote from me if my pension is not restored. I doubt mediation will help us find new owners. It will be an attempt to find compromise with terrorists.
I think it's a big deal for a different reason. They went to their rubber stamp judge in the morning to defend asking for bonuses to close the company, on top of their normal salary. A rep from the DOJ showed up and argued against the excessive pay. I must say I was shocked. I didn't see government intervention coming. I am sure without it we would have sent bonus checks by now.
I also see mediation as proof we are winning. As our story gets out it seems to become almost impossible to defend the company. The more people know our story, the more we are winning. This has gotten out of the boards and CEO Rayburn's control. We are playing on our home court now.
I do not speak for everyone in the Union, these are my thoughts. Let me be clear, the goal isn't to compromise with terrorists. It is to be sold or be closed. We are officially fighting back. I agree with BCTGM President Frank Hurt, Wonder Bread "will be produced somewhere, some time and by our members." This would be a good place to point out that I am extremely proud of my Union and it's gutsy follow through. It takes a committed membership to hold the picket line with everything that is hanging over our heads.
Help us spread the truth about these events. One commenter in my first diary told a story of correcting a radio host on a morning show and getting a tangible change in that persons perspective. That likely translated to thousands of people hearing a new perspective. Who knows how many of our supporters heard that and were then armed with facts?
Don't hesitate to send an email to a reporter or media outlet if you don't think they have represented us fairly. I have seen it make an immediate difference. For example, when I was first called by CNBC the segment was titled something like '8000 bakers cost 18,000 people their job'. I told her why that was silly and by the time I was on the air that junk was gone. I found the whole experience to be very respectful. I certainly don't think their questions were loaded against me.
If this story gets told it will be harder in the future for companies to do this to pension funds. Somewhere along the line Unions will have bent so far back they can't go any further. For my Union, that time is now. If we win this, other Unions will be emboldened. Imagine the headlines if we are sold and many if not most of the bakeries are reopened. Every great economic boom in the last 150 years included strong Unions. We can't just count on a compromised political party to defend us. We have to take the case to the people and the media. Help.