Why I support unions

When I was a toddler in Miami during World War II, my father was a machinist at ** Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (Convair), ranked fourth among United States corporations by value of wartime production contracts, higher than the giants like Douglas Aircraft, Boeing, and Lockheed.

Dad was in a labor union, today named The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. By the time I was in elementary school he was actually employed by the union, at that time called the IAM. He was a Grand Lodge Representative, one of the full-time staff of the IAM responsible for contract negotiations, organizing, arbitrating grievances, and representing the IAM before the National Labor Relations Board.

In 1948, National Airlines, based in Jacksonville, Florida, locked out striking IAM workers. Those men armed themselves and threatened scab workers who dared cross the picket line. So Dad went there to represent the IAM and negotiate with the likes of George T. “Ted” Baker, National Airlines President, who was notorious for his anti-union stance. And we moved to Jax because it was a very long struggle.

That job in general and the National Airlines strike in particular was tough.  It will come as no surprise, then, that by 1950 he had quit to go work as a wholesale meat distributor in Jacksonville. But the union was in his bones. The union is also in my DNA. So, even never having been a member of one, I am an 100% union supporter.

There are about 14.5 million union members in the United States. Guess what, though. The highest unionization rates in 2016 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent). Huh. Who knew?

We think of Labor Day as the official end of Summer. Most of us don’t celebrate the unions. Some of us will remember, however, what they have done for workers everywhere. And, as we should, be thankful.

 

**I have always thought it ironic that the plane my father built was the PBY Catalina flying boat because after he died my mother married an ex-Navy guy who served aboard that aircraft during the War.

 

On the Other Side

One of my favorite sayings is “If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.” I am pretty sure I read it first in one of my detective novels when a seductive blond approaches our hero in a bar. He does think to himself “If something seems too good…” but goes along only to fall victim to her scam. So, do not we ever learn?

Give him a break. Most of us act on the “wrong” instinct. Opportunity knocks. Why take up too much time thinking about it? That dream contact in a bar; that dream job or promotion; that lost bag of $100 bills; etc

Watch the movie A Simple Plan for a moving, sad example of this. When three blue collar acquaintances come across millions of dollars in lost cash they make a plan to keep their find from the authorities but find complications and mistrust weaving its way into their plan. (quote from IMDB)

No spoilers here, but keep watching to the end. If nothing else this story makes clear, once again, how dangerous or fruitless it is to leap before looking. Or however you want to put it.

I wanted to put this into words after reading the Annie Light poem, “The Sound of It” in The Writer’s Almanac today. Sometimes when we are on the other side of that dream we share her thoughts:

“…Time passes in crooked ways in some tales,…I drove away convinced of nothing I had been so sure of before,…

 

Silly but fun

The Bailey-Turner Four have a first-day-of-the-month tradition that is supposed to bring good luck. In August 2017, saying, outloud, Rabbit Rabbit, at 12:01 AM on the first, failed us miserably. The only luck we had was bad luck(?). But that didn’t stop us for September. We tried it again this morning.

I am not sure how we got started. Maybe the Bailey clan did it. I know there wasn’t anything like that in my childhood. Wikipedia says “…it may originate with a North American First Nation story about smoke resembling rabbit fur.” It might be related to the rabbit foot but when you think about it, that is definitely not lucky for that particular bunny.

Of course, the whole thing is just for fun.  In the 1990’s Nickelodeon hyped holidays of all kinds for the kids. They even made up holidays if none were available. Rabbit Rabbit was a big the last day of the month celebration.

Luck or karma or fate or any of those kind of things can be fun or reassuring. But there ain’t so such thing. It doesn’t take long to think of people who were not very lucky at all to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or how excruciatingly long it is taking karma to kick with this Administration. Is it my fate to be sitting here, with my fellow aging feline, staring out at Minneapolis skyscrapers?

So what? I say I am lucky to have the other three B-T’s. It was lucky for Matrika to find that little kitten named Zinn (Formerly Clay) in a Twin Cities shelter. Joe luckily landed three part-time jobs to make a whole. Carla is lucky that..well, she should add her comment here.

Calling things lucky may be simply a figure of speech and saying Rabbit Rabbit may be silly but it is fun. Why not? Having fun is essential for life.