I am a young citizen of this wonderful city and proud that my family has called Fort Wayne home for several generations.
My grandfather was Phil Steigerwald, former Republican City Council member. My father has worked for the Fort Wayne Water Department for more than 20 years. It has been difficult watching my father, a hard-working man who has done his job well and worked very hard for the city, wait in fear of losing union representation that is crucial to his job.
In my personal experience with my father, the union has been imperative. For instance, with my dad’s job comes a lot of physical labor and with that, a lot of injuries. The union has advocated for fair workers’ compensation so that, when these frequent injuries occur, there is adequate time for the worker to heal and not worry about losing his job. Another instance was highlighted well this past winter; the old pipes under our city were bursting faster than they could be repaired. This meant many days of my father working 36+ hours in the freezing cold, always staying just a little bit longer to help one more person get their water back. As a little girl the phone would ring at all hours of the night, and I knew it was because a water main broke and dad had to go fix it.
The union has been able to make sure that these public workers, who miss their kids’ school plays and basketball games and concerts, have an opportunity to rest and warm up before going back out for the next call. It pains me that after more than 20 years of diligent service, my dad and the men and women who work with him are being told they don’t matter; that after thankless years of maintaining the infrastructure of our city, they are being treated as greedy, entitled opportunists.
Years of careful planning of sick time, pensions, retirement, etc. are all at risk for people like my dad. Sure, the City Council may say it won’t change anything, but lip service does not get anyone far in this day and age – and the workers have no assurances that they won’t be stripped of everything for which they have worked. After years of his body taking the physical abuse of his job, my father is looking to the city he has served not for a handout or even thanks, just what he was promised and maybe a little respect. He has worked hard, missed many nights of sleep, missed many of his little girl’s moments, and sacrificed his shoulders, knees, and skin to the outdoor hard labor. The bottom line here should not be putting a bit more away in the city coffers; it should be the people who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of our community. We owe them that.
CHRISTINE E. ARCHER