Veterans Forced to Attend Anti-Union Meetings on Army Base
Jason Croic is a Marine combat veteran who served 28 months in Iraq. When he came home, he found a job working for $18 an hour as a mechanic on Stryker vehicles for General Dynamics Land Systems in Fort Lewis, Washington. Croic now has a new combatant, as his employer is attempting to stop him and his fellow contractors from joining Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).
For the last six months, Croic and 120 of his co-workers, nearly half of whom are veterans, have been forced to attend anti-union meetings, in which General Dynamics managers make them watch films about why unions are bad. General Dynamics has routinely told workers that if they vote to join union that it will likely lead to General Dynamics losing their contract with the U.S. Army. On several occasions, General Dynamics has even flown some of their top corporate officials out on Lear jets from their corporate headquarters in Sterling Heights, Michigan, to explain to the workers why they shouldn’t join a union.
“We have had these meetings where they provided one side of the story,” says Croic. “The message is we won’t be as employable to the Army as we are now because we won’t be as versatile. Being non-union, they say we are more attractive to the Army because we can be moved around easier.”
The union election is scheduled on June 29, and General Dynamics has been forcing workers to attend anti-union meetings nearly every day for the last month. These anti-union meetings aren’t being held on General Dynamic’s private property, but on public property at the U.S. Army base at Fort Lewis. The Army declined to comment for this story and has not taken a position on these meetings nor the claims that the workers voting to join a union would make them less attractive to the Army.
“I think it's bullshit the way they are talking to us,” says Croic. “You think when it's prior military veterans who have done their part, they wouldn’t do this kind of thing to us.”