A few weeks ago, we received a letter from Ed Marquard, a service mechanic and member of UFCW/ICWUC Local 121C. He asked us to share his story about what happened to him, and how his UFCW/ICWUC membership meant he was able to get his job back.
“Most of you do not know me. Most of the members of my own Local 121C do not know me. But I very much want you all to hear me and acknowledge something to yourselves. That being, the significance of enjoying the benefits and protection of formal Unionized Representation in your respective workplaces.”
Ed had been wrongly fired by his employer and fighting for justice since 2013 up until this year. According to Ed, his employer hadn’t exactly been cooperative, as is common in such cases, unfortunately.
“Contractual dispute resolution procedures were trivialized. Federal Arbitration rulings were appealed or ignored. State Superior Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviews drug things out for years. Contest and protract. This was the Company drill for essentially six years.”
You don’t have to go it alone
Even if you know you are in the right, fighting such resistance on your own would be at the very best a lonely, exhausting, expensive experience. We know that most of the time, in the face of all the obstacles irresponsible companies can put up, many workers who have been wronged simply give up and try their best to move on with their lives. But for Ed, he didn’t have to go it alone, and he didn’t give up.
“During this time, I came to understand that only 8% of the American workforce enjoys the protection that our Union affords us as workers. Not to mention the far better wages and standard benefits we take for granted. And I do mean take for granted!”
The benefits of a union
One thing that separates workers who have union representation from the rest of the workforce is that what you are entitled to at your job and what your employer can and can’t do is clearly spelled out in a written, legally-binding contract. Unlike a company handbook, which employees have no say in, a contract is an agreement drawn up between the union, which speaks for the interests of the workers, and the employer, which represents the interests of the company. When everyone plays by the rules, it’s a fair and balanced system that ensures businesses can still operate in a way in which they can thrive, but not at the expense of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to make those companies successful.
Unfortunately, whether out of ignorance or malice, companies don’t always play by the rules. In Ed’s case, his employer violated their contract when they terminated him. But the UFCW anticipates that there are always going to be some bad actors out there, and the staff at UFCW/ICWUC Local 121C were ready to fight for Ed every step of the way.
“My story stands to archive what Union Representation can accomplish in the face of Corporate mistreatment. Our Union stood by me steadfastly and patiently pursued every legal measure to be my advocate and represent my interests. We did not compromise or settle. We trusted that the Arbitration System would render an objective result and we prevailed.”
More than just back pay
No one wants to have to deal with something like this happening to them. Even with the union to back you up, it’s a difficult experience, and infuriating to be treated so disrespectfully by the company you’ve worked hard for. But more than just getting a job or lost wages back, what it’s all about is just as much about reclaiming your dignity and being able to draw a line in the sand about how you expect to be treated. In a world where the cards seem to be increasingly stacked against everyday people, UFCW membership is a way to put just a bit more control back in your hands.
“Thank you for your support, faith and professionalism. I have my job back. I am still working and I have been made whole for all lost wages and benefits….because I am a dues paying member of a good Union.”
Congratulations to Ed from the rest of our UFCW family. We’re sorry you had to go through such a stressful and unfair experience, but we’re so happy you stuck it out to the end and were able to get the justice you deserve.