Union member corrects letter to editor in Register

Union member corrects letter to editor in Register
Date May 23, 2006
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

In his letter to the editor, “Union leaders led workers astray,” (Des Moines Register, May 13) Mr. Brad Morford states that union leaders at Maytag “have encouraged people to strike and refuse automation.”

I don’t know from what authority Mr. Morford speaks, as I find no record of him being a member of UAW Local 997 in Newton, Iowa.

On the other hand, during my 40.9 years’ seniority relationship with Maytag in Newton, I also was a union representative in various positions for 35 years. Therefore, I do speak from authority on the subject of strikes and automation at Maytag in Newton.

First, Maytag in Newton was organized in 1937. Since that time, to date, there have been only six strikes during this 69 years. In my involvement, the union leadership has not “encouraged people to strike,” the membership makes that decision by secret ballot.

Second, at Maytag in Newton, the union has never “refused automation.” Management makes the decision whether to automate, they don’t ask the union for permission.

So I am at a loss as to how the union can “refuse automation.”

In fact, Maytag in Newton has gone through periods where they did automate and it has turned out to create jobs.

Unfortunately, the most recent management turned all that around.

Other facts that Mr. Morford might find interesting (include) the Union negotiated an employee involvement program whereby the members in the plants would be involved with management to cut cost. Those cost savings alone, since 2001, have saved Maytag in Newton $167 million (company figures, not mine).

The concessions in 2004 saved the company millions more.

However, management was making decisions that were more costly than what the union and its membership was saving the company.

For example: $70 million on free airline tickets if you purchased certain products. (The airline tickets cost more than the products). Management decision on a failed China deal, $95 million. Management’s decision to start up and after three years close a facility in South Carolina. Settlement of at lease one lawsuit due to management’s decision not to recall and repair certain products.

That, Mr. Morford, is just the short list. You might want to get your facts straight before you write your anti-union letters.

Oh, yes, the guy that played a major role in destroying a great company walked away with $19 to $20 million. You no doubt believe that is OK.

Max L. Tipton



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