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 mastermind political Hey Now to know what stinks and what doesn’t. 

* * * 

As the daughter of someone who worked for Eastern Airlines who was eventually bought out, I remember going to union meetings with my parents to support the strike. I always thought unions were a good thing. Especially when I became a teacher. We talk about bullying a great amount as educators:

bully – baaaad, standing up to bully – gooooood

So what’s the problem? Aren’t unions the popular kid standing up to the big bad bully that’s picking on the small guy?

Apparently not. As I read this article from the NY Times I quickly realized that like everything else, 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 think that unions were a way of the past, something that blue collar workers needed, but not us. No sir. We don’t need those unions with their pensions and mob relations. But no one stopped to think about the good they could do too?

We watched the “rise of the stinkin rich” and didn’t think there was anything wrong with “the explosion in executive pay.” 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.” I would argue the terrible mistake being that we basically told the popular kid to F_ _ _ off and let the bully kick our a _ _.

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, “JPMorgan economist calculated that the majority of increased corporate profits between 2000 and 2007 were the result of “reductions in wages and benefits.” Again, in regular people words that means corporation profits got bigger as OUR wages and benefits got smaller.

When I finished reading the article, like always, I felt a sense of powerlessness. What could I do? So I asked Hetty exactly that, “What now?” And she responded in the only way that Hetty, the NJ Director of The Communications Workers of America (CWA) 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, this means to keep fighting the good fight – even when people argue that it isn’t the good fight or worse that it’s the losing fight. So what? Fight anyway. No one’s asking you to die for it, just try for it. 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 is not right. Don’t give up. Don’t back down. 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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