Paul Esslinger: I think giving the false impression to these workers that the City Council can do anything of substance for these workers is terrible, and misleading
January 22, 2003
I wanted to respond to Cheryl Hentz's editorial.
I want to start out by saying that I called Mr. Alan Sawitski (UAW Local 291 President) on January 12th, but he wasn't home at the time. I left a message with a member of his family that I would like to talk to him regarding the situation, but as of this date (1/22/03) he has not returned my call. My intent in trying to contact him is to tell him that I feel bad about the situation, and not to give him a false impression that I can do anything of substance.
In Ms. Hentz's editorial, she said that "one elected official said that since the City never said anything when Seven-Up saw huge layoffs or when Square D left town, this situation really isn't much different, even though he feels for the workers." The elected official she is referring to is me.
I stand by that statement. Can you imagine what the workers at Seven-Up, Square D, etc., etc., etc., would think and how they would feel if the City Council felt that it was OK to come out publicly and comment about the AxelTech/Meritor situation, but not about theirs. Favoritism?? The fact is that I feel bad about ANY COMPANY that either leaves Oshkosh, or is going through any other disputes with their management.
I think giving the false impression to these workers that the City Council can do anything of substance for these workers is terrible, and misleading. Could I make a public statement about the situation, sure, but is that going to get anyone anywhere? Even in Ms. Hentz's editorial she admits that "no one other than the company and the union's bargaining committee can get involved in contract negotiations." I believe that if I made any public statements, it would be viewed as nothing more than another politician trying to make promises he can't keep.
If I were a worker that was having problems with labor negotiations, I would want any and all people that CAN do something involved, not some politician trying to make himself/herself look good.
This situation is much different than the WAMCO situation, where the City had a hand in those negotiations. If you remember, I was quite upset with that situation, and I took several steps in regards to the situation. I spoke with the union's attorneys, I spoke with the City Attorney, I spoke with the City staff on several occasions, I spoke out against it at a Council meeting, and ultimately voted against the resolution to purchase the property. So it's obvious that when I can do something about a situation, I WILL!
I thank you very much for your time, and I hope you can post this letter. This response is in NO WAY to express any other Council Members opinion, just my own.
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