Four years ago are reward amounted to an anemic 1% annual raise and the end of our defined pension. My pension was frozen at $582 a month. Any hope of a good retirement relies solely on the stock market and my 401k.
Last year Brookfield asset management sold the mill to Kapstone paper and packaging. We were thrilled to once again be owned by a paper maker. We had just completed our most successful year ever recorded, beating our projected profit goal by an entire year and $17 million dollars. We had made 217 million dollars a year earlier than we were asked to do.
Elated to be owned by a new company and having happy stock holders who were receiving large dividends, we were cautiously optimistic that we would finally be rewarded for the long hours and dedication we had demonstrated over the last 6 years. So far, it appears that we were mistaken.
Last week the company presented their first offer. I feel as though I have been slapped in the face. They are asking for a 5 year contract that gives us 1% raises each year and strips us of over $300 dollars a month in benefits. I realize it is early in the game but I feel sick inside.
Ever since my diagnosis 8 years ago my view of the world has changed somewhat. I have more respect for life. I rarely will squash a bug unless it is a spider which I have deemed far too scarey to live. I see things in a different light I suppose. I am appalled at the all encompassing greed of the world. I expect it but for some reason it still surprises me. When will the haves of the world have enough that they no longer need to take it from the have nots?. How much money is enough? The value of our currency keeps dropping. The 4% pay raise I recieved over the last five years is eclipsed by the rate of inflation. The city of Seattle legislated a $15 an hour minimum wage. Soon the cost of goods and services will be such that people like myself working skilled labor professions will no longer be able to provide for their families. Once upon a time labor unions got greedy. They went too far and Ronald Reagan took away their claws. Many of the gains my father and grandfather fought for are gone. The pendulum has swung and labor must once again fight for their piece of the American dream. I fear blood will once again flow until balance is restored. It is we who run and maintain the machine. It is we who drive this economy down the road. It is we who must stand as idle observers when the wheels fall off. We can no longer be passive as our incomes shrink and our share of the social safety net grows. I do not wish for a strike but I will walk the line for throse who are forced to live out the legacy if men who are afraid to stand up for what is right. Todd