LOCAL VOICES: Column about unions full of half-truths

The Sandusky Register's Managing Editor, Matt Westerhold , has a right to h
Sandusky Register Staff
May 9, 2010

The Sandusky Register's Managing Editor, Matt Westerhold , has a right to his own opinions but he doesn't have a right to his own facts.

    His column in Sunday’s paper is not only wrong on most points, it also shows your paper’s lack of journalism, fairness and fact-checking. Sensationalism half-truth and innuendo serves the grocery store tabloid reader market but is hardly something a real newspaper resorts to.

    If the reporter and Mr. Westerhold have done their fact-checking, they have learned the Delphi Unit elections are indeed being run exactly as the union's by-laws mandate. The dates and location of the polling places were chosen by the membership at a recent union meeting. Union meetings are where the union's business is conducted, Mr. Westerhold. If Mr. Lombardo or others care to get involved in the union as you suggested, the union meeting would be a good place to start.

    I have no hard feelings towards Mr. Lombardo, but he has simply no idea what he is talking about. Taking his rant as gospel fact, your paper simply regurgitates misconception and ignores common sense. To make matters worse, Mr. Westerhold opines on topics Mr. Lombardo never brought forward and misstates some that he did.

    Case in point, the election for chairperson is indeed being conducted in the room where newly hired employees took their orientation. If Mr Lombardo said it wasn't, then once again he is mistaken. Rather, I think Westerhold's statements about the election being held in some obscure room is his own imagination or attempt at sensationalizing this non story. The elections for shift committee are taking place (as the by-laws dictate) at those particular shifts’ meetings at the union hall. Do you really think our members don't know where their own union hall is? Is holding union elections at the union hall a crazy concept to you?

    As to the election being ran by the rules Mr. Westerhold says "By-laws, shmy-laws." Really Mr. Westerhold?

    What an utterly foolish thing to print. Do you really believe that union officials can ignore the union's bylaws? Evidently he and Mr. Lombardo feel it is optional, but only a "Third World country" or dictatorship (or the Register, perhaps?) would ignore its by-laws, constitution, charter or whatever governs it. Not to mention that the U.S. Labor Department would put a union official in jail for ignoring the union's by-laws and the NLRB also stipulates a union election must be conducted in strict accordance with it's by-laws.

    Mr. Lombardo is disgruntled. That does not make him right. He admits the election is conducted as set out in the by-laws. He says it's legal but not ethical. Oh really? It seems to me conducting the election in violation of the by-laws would be unethical. If the election were held contrary to our by-laws, a whole lot of members and candidates would have a legitimate gripe. In addition, if anyone cared to protest an election held contrary to the approved by-laws, their protest would have merit, be upheld and a new election ordered to be conducted in accordance with those by-laws. By-laws, shmy-laws? Give me a break!

    Mr. Lombardo, you say "things don't have to be the way they always were." On that point I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that since this election is being conducted exactly as our by-laws dictate, your concerns hold no consequence. The good news is that this union that you belong to is the most honest and democratic union in the world. If you are unhappy with the rules of our elections you are free to submit your proposal for a change in our by-laws at any union meeting. It is where our business is conducted, but it's not as flashy as seeing your name in the paper. Thank goodness the Register doesn't run our union (it evidently supports anarchy). And by the way, brother, you'll need a way more convincing argument than any I've heard you make to get the membership to change the by-laws that they themselves approved.

    I could also tell Mr. Westerhold about the caring and dedicated union officials who have given so much time and effort to keep this plant viable and profitable and open. Any one who has worked there since before 1993, both union and management, will tell you that if it were not for Local 913 and it's vision, this plant would have closed long before Delphi was born.

    To imply that the former leadership did not or does not still care about the future of the Sandusky facility is simply folly and does my former colleagues a great injustice.

    Shame on you, Mr. Westerhold!