While traveling through Hagerstown, I stumbled upon a group of striking UAW workers. Intrigued, I decided to stop and learn more about their cause. However, the experience left me with more questions than answers.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a worker who seemed unsure of the reason behind the strike. Attempts to speak with other individuals were met with silence, and I was even asked politely not to take photographs despite being in a public space along a roadway. The individual who could have shed light on the situation was conveniently absent, but I was told I could come back tomorrow and he may be there then.
Frustrated but still curious, I reached out to UAW via phone. The response was equally cryptic, with the representative stating that only a few people in their office knew the details of the strike. They suggested that if I had to run a story with gaps, then so be it. To their credit I was offered to have someone potentially call me tomorrow, but outside of saying they wanted a better contract they were unable to specify if working conditions were a problem or if it was a compensation issue.
This secrecy is perplexing, especially considering that the strike has been widely covered by reputable sources like Reuters and The Washington Post. According to these reports, the UAW has reached a tentative labor deal with Ford that includes a 25% wage hike over a 4.5-year contract. The agreement also provides cost-of-living adjustments that will raise the top hourly wage by over 30% to more than $40 by the end of the contract. The deal even allows workers to strike over any future plant closures.
So why the secrecy at the local level? How can one support a cause that refuses to disclose its objectives? While some may argue that my questions make me appear anti-union, let me clarify: I am not. I am, however, anti-confusion, especially when it comes to matters that affect the livelihoods of hardworking individuals.
In a world where information is power, the lack of it can be both frustrating and detrimental. The local organizers may have their reasons for keeping things under wraps, but in doing so, they risk alienating potential supporters and clouding the narrative. After all, how can you rally behind a cause you know nothing about? Some of the folks striking also seemed just as unsure.
So, as I left Hagerstown, I couldn’t help but wonder: In the absence of clear communication, what is the real cost of silence?
Photo Credit: Jacob via Facebook