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You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip! Print E-mail
by James Reza    Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 08:32 AM

When Henry, my cousin, graduated from TCU in 1957 with a Business Degree he was offered a job at Convair (now Lockheed).  When Hank went for his interview I tagged along.  Having just graduated from high school, I filled an application at Convair while Hank was interviewed.  Shortly, Hank and I were hired at Convair to work on the B-58 project, Hank as a business analyst and I as an aircraft assembler.  My job as an assembler, which paid a good wage required little to no skill.  My job duties were to assemble wing parts with a riveting press. Truthfully, it was a repetitious and boring job.  After a few weeks at Convair a union rep came and asked me if I wanted to join the UAW Machinist Union.  I recall asking the union rep what advantages I’d have if I joined the union.  He told me I’d have job security and I’d get wage increases every year.  Well aware that Convair had layoffs often, I declined to join the union.  I told the union rep that if the B-58 program would be axed by the Air Force, I, and other workers would lose our jobs and there was nothing the union could do for us to keep them.  After two years the Air Force axed the B-58 contract and I along with thousands of union workers were laid off.  Hank however, kept his job where he worked for over 40 years until he retired.

Taking Print Shop at Tech High, I learned the linotype (a typesetting machine) well enough to be awarded the best linotype operator in Texas at a Vocational Printing competition in Galveston.  Laid off and needing a job, I sought a typesetting position in several typesetting firms in Fort Worth.  Back then, most typesetting firms were unionized and I had to undergo a 2-year apprenticeship at a low wage before I could operate a linotype while paying high union dues. Dejected, I went back to building mobile homes, a job I learned during my summer vacation high school years that paid a good wage.  In the early 60s I read a classified that Jordan Typesetting, a non-union shop, was in need of a part time linotype operator.  I applied for the job and told Jack Jordan, the owner, that it had been years since I touched a linotype keyboard, but was willing to work for free if he just gave me the opportunity to set type.  Jack agreed, paid me $1 and hour and bingo, I was doing what I always to do — set type.  In two months I regained my typing speed and Jack increased my wage to $2.50 an hour.  After 6 months Jack offered me a full time position at $3.75 an hour.  I declined Jack’s offer because he offered no benefits. Benefits that I had at Artcraft Homes and needed for my family and myself.  For 2 years I worked 2 jobs — 40 hours building mobile homes and 25 hours setting type.

One Friday while off due to inventory at Artcraft Homes, I went to visit a friend at St. Joseph Hospital in South Fort Worth.  After visiting my friend I decided to stop at Motheral Printing Co. a nonunion print shop not far from St. Joseph to chat with Rick Martinez, a cameraman at Motheral and a Print Shop chum at Tech High.  Rick told me that he heard I was setting type.  I told him that I was, and he informed me that Motheral was in dire need of a full time night typesetter.  Soon Rick called Don Reed the shop superintendent and told him of my typesetting skills.  After chatting with Mr. Reed, he offered me the nighttime typesetting position at 5.75 an hour. Not wanting to quit Mr. Jordan due to him giving me my typesetting opportunity, I quit Artcraft Homes. Thus, I’d set type with Jack during the day and at night at Motheral’s.

After a few months working the night shift at Motheral, I was put on the day shift.  At the time Motheral’s was a small print shop. Wanting to expand, the Motheral brothers, Wess and Foist, called their brother, Carl Motheral, then a business tycoon in Mexico to revamp the company.  Under the leadership of Carl, the company grew by leaps and bounds.  Carl enlarged the company, adding top of the line litho and web presses.  My linotype job soon gave way to computers to which I adapted well.  Soon Motheral grew into the largest commercial printer in Fort Worth.  Motheral’s soon lured many lucrative accounts like: American Airlines, Mary Kay Products, Alcon Laboratories, General Dynamics, and Bell Helicopter to name but a few of the many customers the company had. Several times Motheral printers entertained the thought of being unionized.  Carl quickly would have shop meetings illustrating the dues union workers paid in comparison to Motheral’s wages.  Folks, it was a no-brainer, Motheral’s wages let workers keep more of their pay without having to pay union dues, and, Motheral’s offered great benefits.

In time, Motheral’s grew significantly adding a new Small Press Shop.  Soon we were the top dogs of printing in Fort Worth.  “Why?”   Some might ask.  Folks, all of Motheral’s unionize competitors, and there were plenty, went under.  Most couldn’t pay the wages the printing unions demanded, so they shut their doors.  I remember many of my print shop union buddies were looking for jobs in whatever they could find.  The sad thing about these printing union workers is that they didn’t get a dime from the unions after contributing untold dollars to their coffers for years.

After 18 years at Motheral’s I was offered and took a job at General Dynamics, (formerly Convair) as a non-union Engineer Illustrator.  While working at GD the UAW went on strike demanding higher wages.  As an illustrator I often typed many of the company’s business transactions with the Air Force.  Folks, the Air Force had a set price for each F-16 and the price was locked.  GD could not offer higher wages without operating at a loss.  Under pressure GD soon caved to the union’s demands.  However, to recoup their losses, GD sent the F-16 electrical components parts to be assembled in Mexico that resulted in the lay off of hundreds of GD employees.  In the end, the union workers got their pay raise, but many GD employees lost their good paying jobs.

Today, UAW workers at Lockheed (formerly General Dynamics) are again on strike demanding higher wages.  Lockheed has yet caved to the union’s demands after several weeks.  With all the cuts in defense spending, Lockheed is in no position to meet the union’s demands.  In fact they are hiring to replace striking workers.  Meanwhile UAW striking workers are tapping their banks, their retirement funds and many are losing their homes.  In contrast, union bosses are getting paid and enjoying their benefits.  Seems that unions can’t understand that “you can’t get blood from a turnip!”


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Comments (5)add comment
written by ElHombre , June 08, 2012

From Lockheed/Martin's own reports...

First quarter PROFITS in 2012:

$1 Billion

In three months.

Seriously, James. If you're too lazy to bother to check the facts that you've obviously been handed, you just need to shut up.

written by Pope1944 , June 08, 2012

From the Star Telegram

"The union objects to the company's proposal to offer people employed after the contract date a defined contribution savings plan instead of the kind of pension union members are used to receiving. Lockheed would guarantee $350 each quarter to these employees' savings accounts. Current workers wouldn't have their pensions reduced; in fact, the multiplier would increase from $79 to $90 for each year of service.

The company's proposed contract includes these other incentives: 3 percent raises each of three years; a $3,000 contract ratification bonus per worker; and an annual $800 cost-of-living payment.

Read more here:"

I will be looking for a position with them right away. My company has not had a pay increase in 6 years.
Lockheed's profits are hardly mainstream. The last three years their earnings have been 6.7%, 6.3% and 5.7%. They have maintained a steady payout to the stockholders during that same time.

written by Charlie Alvarado , June 11, 2012

I'm retired. I guess you could say I'm "SEMI-RETIRED" because if someone needs me, or I want to make a few extra bucks, I just pick up my axe and go gig.
However, some in this country think that the right to make "ALL" the money you wish is Ok no matter who you trample along the way.

Our country is in trouble just because of politics and nobody wanting to help it survive.

In America you have many rights. On some issues you must exercise those rights as an American "OR" as a Christian.
Reza wanted to adopt Mexico's laws. Well, we may have already adopted the job market trend.

"In a poor country like ours, the alternative to low-paid jobs isn't well-paid ones; it's no jobs at all." -- Jesús Reyes-Heroles, Mexico's Ambassador to the USA

written by Gary Stan , June 18, 2012

Great testimony about an industrious person with a good work attitude, who needs a union? Surely not an industrious person.

written by Charlie Alvarado , June 19, 2012

You know Gary, you bring up a very important point.
In the late 1950s, there were two music unions in town. One was AFM local 23 and the other was a mostly black musicians union. I can't remember the number.
I had a lot of friends in the black community so I joined their union.
I was playing at this club with 5 musicians. Along came a black band with 7 dudes, (some were friends of mine) and offered to play for less money. They were hired and I was given a 2 weeks notice,
I complained to the union and they said they couldn't do anything about it.

You guessed it. I quit the union and told them; "WHO NEEDS A UNION, I HAVE SEVERAL CLUBS WAITING FOR ME TO BE FREE."
I guess there are other jobs that don't work the way the music business works.

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