Wednesday, June 6, 2012

La Resistance

Last night, I read an interesting article from the NY Times on Facebook posted by one of the strongest, most empowering women I have come to know. The article talked about a new book by Timothy Noah that points out "The Great Divergence," the divergence between the "haves" and the "haves not" - but in this particular case, it was specifically talking about unions.

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As always, I point out that my background in politics, isms, and izations is quite beginner but I don't think you have to be a Political - Hey Now - Mastermind  to know what stinks and what doesn't. 
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As the daughter of someone who worked for Eastern Airlines, an airline eventually bought out and sold to pieces, I remember going to union meetings with my parents to support the strike. I always thought unions were a good thing, so when I became a teacher and they took money out of my paycheck for union fees, I didn't mind - unions were a good thing. As educators, we talk about bullying a great amount:
Bully - baaaad. Standing up to bully - gooooood.
So what's the problem? Aren't unions the strong kid standing up to the popular bully who is picking on the small guy?

Apparently not. As I read this article from the NY Times I quickly realized that, at some point, we started being fooled into thinking that  - like teachers, cops, and all public service, really - unions, are the problem. At some point, people started to believe that unions were a thing of the past, something those blue collar, worker bees needed - and I'm no blue collar worker, as if that means something lesser. We don't need those unions with their pensions and mob relations. Not anymore. Not us. No sir. We started believing all the bad press about unions and forgot ask about all the good unions could do too. They had to be good for something too, right?

Is it a coincidence that we watched the "rise of the stinkin rich" and "the explosion in executive pay" while the worker bees stung themselves in the ass. In laymen's terms, we watched the rich get really rich while the working class worked harder for less. As Noah points out, when [people] turned their backs on unions - they made a terrible mistake." The terrible mistake being that we basically told the strong kid to fuck off and let the bully kick our ass... and then thanked him for it. We told the only kid in our corner that we'd rather get kicked in teeth by the popular guy so that maybe - one day - he'd let us be his friend.

I think back to 1989, when my dad was on strike. Who would have fought for him then? Who would have motivated the workers to stay strong, be resilient, not give in... RESIST? My dad doesn't take shit but he wouldn't have known where to start had a union not organized him. So I don't understand how normal, regular people could view unions as a bad thing. I could understand why the rich, the policymakers, the company management - the stinkin rich - think unions are bad, but regular people, OPEN YOUR EYES already!!

We keep giving up power hoping to one day join the good ol' boys club. Guess what?!?!? The good ol' boys don't want us in their club, they just pretend they do for our support as we heist them up to the top... and then they kick us in the face. They aren't going to fight for our wages, our benefits, or our rights...ever. In fact, according to Noah, 
JP Morgan economist calculated that the majority of increased corporate profits between 200 and 2007 were the result of "reductions in wages and benefits." 
Again, in regular people words that means corporations stuffed their pockets with my hard work. I worked hard and then saw none of the rewards.

When I finished reading the article, like always, I felt a sense of powerlessness. What could I do? So I asked Hetty, the NJ Director of The Communications Workers of America (CWA) exactly that, "What now?" And she responded in the only way that Hetty knows how
We fight. We resist. We hold on for a moment when a movement grows and we can stop it. Resist.
In words I understand, hold on - even when people argue that it isn't the good fight or worse that it's the losing fight. So what? Keep going, fight anyway. No one's asking you to die for it, just try for it. No one is asking you to be a martyr but you don't need to abandon ship either and take up with the enemy. You know in your hearts what is right and for me watching the stinkin rich get stinkier while people lose homes, life savings, and their dignity isn't it. Don't give up. Don't back down. HOLD YOUR GROUND. Protest - even if it is only in your own home. Speak up - even if it's only against your neighborhood bully. 

And remember that a union is just a fancy word for banding together.

My mom and dad in his Eastern Airlines gear 
holding me as a baby and my sister.

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