I Heart Unions

I’ve been following the auto bailout business via online videos of Rachel Maddow’s show while updating spreadsheets at my nice, stable, unionized job.  The Republican arguments against the auto bailout are disgusting and make me sick.

And apparently I have no clue how to post videos, so, listen to this and get mad with me:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/28184849#28184849

That republican senator needs to get slapped in face.  Look, unions aren’t perfect, there are some really bad, filthy corrupt union bosses out there, to be sure.  But why are people so disillusioned that they think unions are not necessary?  Aren’t there still unfair labor practices?  Don’t workers still get abused by their employers?  Just last week, here in NYC, which is practically a union sanctuary compared with the rest of the country, two restaurant owners were arrested and charged with 400 (!) criminal charges, including violating minimum wage laws for their employees and falsifying business records to cover it up.  Also?  Over the summer, state investigators exposed a sweatshop in Queens that was making clothes for Banana Republic, Macys and Victoria’s Secret.  The factory owners paid their employees $3.79 per hour for working six days a week for over 60 hours a week. 

But yeah, I’m sure the need for unions has come to end. 

Yes, I take this issue personally.  To my family, a bunch of rowdy Irish people from Brooklyn, unions are life savers.  A unionized civil service job was their way out of Brooklyn and into the middle class.  One of my great grandfathers was a member of the Typographical Union and when he died my family couldn’t pay for a headstone for his grave so the union paid for it and he was buried in the union plot.  (An alternative version of this story is apparently this great grandfather was a Native American, and hated by the rest of my family so they refused to pay for his grave.  But no one wants to say yes or no he was an Indian because no one in the family wants to talk about him. One my uncles is going to do some cheek-swab DNA test to see if he has Native American genes.  Weird stuff.)  But also, my dad is a retired FDNY member and was actively involved in the fire unions when he was working here.  And now he’s involved with the international firefighters union in Washington DC.  Not to mention my uncle the cop, my other uncle the transit worker, my other uncle the HVAC worker who all have pensions and health care and were all able to send their children to college all because of unions.  And myself – my union job guarantees me paid sick leave, prescription drug coverage, tuition reimbursement for graduate school, free eye exams and eye glasses, and other nice things. So, we love unions in my family!  Maybe the era of unions paying for your grave is over, but the era of employees organizing against unfair labor practices is most definitely not over.  And maybe will never be over.

Anyway, happy Friday!  And thank goodness for Rachel Maddow.

One Response to “I Heart Unions”

  1. Rob Lenihan Says:

    The banks got this huge bailout with no strings attached–and they’re still not lending money.

    Yet the auto companies have to jump through all these hoops and they still don’t get a dime. The repiglicans are looking to break the union–period.

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