EDITOR: I started working in Sonoma County in the trades, working non-union. The company I worked for would not pay overtime. The company paid us as laborers and had us operate equipment. We worked Saturdays for cash. They also brought undocumented workers on as laborers and paid them cash. We had no medical benefits.
We worked on prevailing-wage jobs a lot, and the company got caught misclassifying some of us as laborers and having us run equipment and not paying us overtime. Thanks to the Foundation for Fair Contracting, we received checks that year for the wages they owed us.
So it seems that the bottom line for most of these non-union companies, and I know this from talking to other workers in the trades, is they pay as little as possible and exploit undocumented workers and don't provide health and retirement benefits for their workers in order to bolster their profits.
I joined the Operating Engineers union and immediately doubled my wages. I got medical benefits for myself and my boys, along with a retirement plan and holiday vacation pay and better working conditions. I could not have gotten by working non-union as well as I have working union.
A small price
EDITOR: I would like to offer another opinion on the proposed Santa Rosa Junior College bond measure ("A bond? No thanks," Letters, Wednesday). We are blessed to have one of the best community colleges in the country right here in Santa Rosa, and it deserves our support. The quality and diversity of classes offered at SRJC is superb, and I encourage anyone who has not taken a class to give it a try. Another bond measure is a small price to pay to help maintain and improve this gem.