Please support working mothers, Senator Murkowski  

I don't normally copy things from Newspapers. Newspapers have it hard enough these days just surviving, but this was just too good to not share. It appears to be a letter to the editor or some kind of "guest" column in the Anchorage Daily News

Millions of mothers are uninsured, even though a majority of them work, sometimes more than one job. It's wrong when many of the mothers who raise America's children are uninsured and struggle to provide for their families. I am lucky; I belong to a union.

I became a single mother of an 8 year-old son while I was serving in the United States Army. This was a very frightening experience for me. My son's dad was not around to help raise him. After I left the Army, I found a job working for a company where women had no opportunity to advance. I was fortunate to then land a union job. I started work with a 90-day probation period, and on my 89th day I had an accident for which I was fired.

Even though I didn't have grievance rights, my union fought for me. The accident wasn't my fault, but my employer argued I was responsible. Because of my union steward, however, the mediator decided to reinstate me. To begin with, the accident wasn't my fault, and the mediator also pointed out that there were four men who were involved in accidents in their first 90 days and weren't fired. Would I have gotten my job back if I didn't have a union fighting for me? Was this worth every penny of my dues? You're darn right it was. I love my job and I raised my son with no worries. I earn a fair day's pay, decent benefits and have job security. Shouldn't everybody have this?

My son, who is now 24, has few benefits and no job security. I want more for him, but good, secure jobs are scarce. Is there anything wrong with a mother wanting a good life for her child?

All workers should have the opportunity to join a union like I did. The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill currently before Congress, will enable workers to form and join unions. It will penalize employers who break the law, and level the playing field for workers to win a contract. This legislation will put the choice in the hands of the workers and take away the veto power employers have over workers.

The Employee Free Choice Act will make it easier for more moms to join a union and get health insurance for their families. When moms have it better, so does everyone else. Senator Murkowski, please do something for the women who do so much for everybody. Please support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Carol Salandra lives in Anchorage

As a single mother myself, I can empathize. I can empathize even more today than in years past. I've belonged to two unions in the past, and although the Teamsters tried to help out in one job, the SEIU was not exactly helpful in another. I don't think it was the union itself in either case, it was the strength of the shop steward that I had. Some are really amazing and some, leave a lot to be desired. The experiences that Carol had with her union and more specifically, the shop steward, goes to something folks who don't have unions or have terrible shop stewards never know or feel, advocacy.

Recently, I found myself in some hot water due to a couple of issues that stem from my supervisor. I contacted the union. Although they do not yet represent me (we're working on that)the shop steward has taken vacation time to assist me. He's provided me background on rules, laws and given me forms to use for all sorts of things. None of which did I have access to in the past. He's said one very powerful thing that has stuck with me since the hot water started to boil, "Management is not your friend." He's right. I know, it probably doesn't sound all that revolutionary, but it was to me.

Carol, thank you for your letter or guest column. You have given me something to share and have provided a personal story that shows the power of union advocacy. Carol, thank you. For single moms like me everywhere, thank you.

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