December 2018: Your best friend
As we enter into the holiday season, we can use this time to reset the batteries and reflect on the blessings in our lives as Union brothers and sisters. With this time upon us, there is a topic that I would like to cover during this rediscovery period.
While learning about the various units, I’ve noticed there are a few folks who work in our shops who have signed off paying their union dues. I truly believe that many of these individuals have no innate disbelief in the Union or its positive impact on raising working standards. In fact, I believe these folks understand that working in a Union shop provides them with better benefits, pay and working conditions.
The individuals that I have had interactions with merely aren’t in agreement with a particular person in an elected position, or a piece of their Agreement, and—even more unfortunate—something they wanted didn’t go their way. Now this clearly is the “I’m gonna take my ball and go home” philosophy that we all saw as children growing up. My hope is that these folks may have gotten themselves in life’s “rut” and just need a reset.
We need to remember that in life negative things happen in all facets of our lives, but we can still appreciate the positives that coexist with these small inconveniences or irritations. I have thought of life as an adult attempting to utilize this “all my way or nothing” approach and how it would work in its simplest form—like this:
They say dogs are a man’s best friend, but the accompanying dog hair that attaches itself to all of our earthly belongings is not! My wife and I see our dog as loyal (yet flawed) and we are comfortable knowing that she is protecting our whole family while we are distracted. With that, my family and I work around that negative aspect of being dog owners. Now, if we were to take the approach that since we don’t like her hair on our couch and even though she is loyal and would protect us when called upon, we can no longer feed her due to this hairy nuisance, Lily would show little change at the onset … but over time our Lily girl will grow weak and no longer be able to defend us.
Clearly this isn’t how we treat our best friend, because we want her strong and although we dislike the hair, Lily is well fed. My wife and I pray she never has to protect us but if she should have to, Lily is at the ready.
This is just like paying union dues. There are flaws and minor irritations in our UAW, but how can we support enjoying all of the benefits of membership while not feeding the UAW? I will always feed the UAW and my Lily girl and tolerate the irritations because I know that a strong and healthy UAW is better for us than fighting alone.
That being said, I ask that you use this holiday season to reflect and see if the irritations of life have inadvertently led you off course. If this is true, it’s never too late to repair a relationship or rejoin the family. God Bless and I hope you have Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas. – Ben Frantz and Family
September: This is who I am
Hello brothers and sisters, my name is Ben Frantz and I am the new Vice President of Local 652. I’ve chosen to use this first article to provide a brief history of myself so we can be better acquainted. I was raised mainly on the governmental aid and by a few great people and community families who understood my position in life.
Though, as a child I couldn’t comprehend how poor we were, I now use those memories often to provide myself a grounded perspective and to keep myself working hard in all aspects of life. As an adult, I realize that I can teach my three boys that determination and never quitting just because life can be difficult is not the Frantz way nor is it the way of the UAW.
Getting started in the UAW
Hiring into GM in July of 2002, I was fortunate to meet some people who have done great things inside the Local. South Plant (building 32) is where Ted Krumm and I first met; he is now the Chairman of the GM Unit of 652.
Shortly after hiring in, I was moved to the Lansing Grand River plant where Mike Green and I met. Through these encounters and support and encouragement from these individuals and many more, I started my path of representing Lansing Grand River as an alternate District Committeeman on the night
A year after being elected the District 2A alternate, I ran for the District Committee spot which I retained through three more elections over a five-year span. Many individuals were placed in my path who gave me knowledge on both what to do as well as what to avoid as a representative of the people.
The three years leading up to my election this past June as the Vice President, I represented the GM Unit of Local 652 as a Shop Committeeman representing multiple Divisions. The progression from representing a small group of members on a single shift as a District Committeeperson to the multi-shift and multi-location responsibility of Shop Committee was one that I will always appreciate.
It was a period filled with learning experiences of long-term goal achievements, patience and issue resolution. As a Shop Committee bargainer, going through local negotiations was an invaluable experience that will pay dividends in this new role of VP.
As I reflect upon this life journey, the similarities are striking and speak to the very essence of the type of person, husband, father and representative I strive to be.
As a child being blessed with uncles who were willing to replace an absent father figure, going out of their way to push me to excel at all things life. Community families taking me in and showing me the true meaning of family and taking care of one another.
When I entered General Motors, meeting the great leaders that I’ve met and having them show support and sharing knowledge while challenging me to be the best at representing the membership all correlate so well.
These worlds are so different, yet so similar, and as I have been blessed to receive the trust of this membership to represent their interests as their Vice President, I say only this: I don’t take that support lightly. I will never stop pushing those who will come after me to be the greatest they can be, all the while keeping the best interest of the membership at the forefront of all they do—because that’s my commitment to you and that’s who I am.