Why I support unions

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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

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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

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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.

Mortgage backed securities? Wait, what?

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Had you bought 100 Apple shares on April 19, 2013, it would have cost you $5579. Today your investment would be worth $16,291. Impressive? Sorta. In the Spring of 2013 I was driving a school bus for about $16 an hour so I would have had to work about two and a half months to save up that much. So, yeah, I wish!

All our investments are in the Pension Boards United Church of Christ, Inc.. Very smart and trustworthy managers. Good thing, too. We (I) might have put our money into fidget spinners or the like.

Meanwhile, I do like to see what is happening. I want to see how in the world we ended up with thousands of mortgage foreclosures in 2008, for example. I kinda want to go beyond the basics. After all, just bingeing on Billions doesn’t really give me the whole picture.

So I consider myself lucky to have come upon Morning Brew. This short and sassy newsletter hits my inbox on weekdays and I always come away with at least a couple or three fascinating nuggets. Like, Best Buy is starting up door-to-door sales or that Anheuser-Busch turned over its Georgia plant completely to produce cans of water for Houston’s terrible crisis.

Check out Morning Brew out. I think you might enjoy it.

Marriage without hope

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She was checking me in to the doctor’s office and asked if I felt safe at home? Has your partner or ex-partner threatened you with physical harm? Have you been hit by your partner or ex-partner?

She had several more similar questions and as I repeatedly said “no”, I thought of yesterday’s blog post. Because in it I was upbeat about the mutuality and possibility in marriages.

As I often do, I reread as if I were one of my readers out there. I had left something out. Some marriages have no hope. Sound too resigned or negative? Not if you have seen the terrible repeating pattern of domestic abuse time and again. In real life, not just on TV. Some marriages are just torturous prisons.

Please read these questions without judgment or fear. They were created to help people talk, in a protected place, about their personal experience. So here they are for information but also for self examination. Please remember, they are only for you not so you can “diagnose” someone else.

• Are you afraid of your partner? Do you feel you are in danger?
• You mentioned your partner’s problem with temper/stress/drinking. When that happens, has he ever threatened or hurt you?
• Every couple fights at times – what are your fights like at home? Do the fights ever become physical?
• Have you been hit or scared since the last time I saw you?
• Has anyone at home hit you or tried to injure you in any way?
• What kinds of experiences with violence have you had in your life?
• Do you feel controlled or isolated by your partner?
• Does your partner ever try to control you by threatening to hurt you or your family?
• Has anyone close to you ever threatened or hurt you?
• Does your partner ever hit, kick, hurt or threaten you?
• Have you ever been slapped, pushed or shoved by your partner?
• Have you ever been touched in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?
• Has anyone ever made you to do something sexual when you did not want to?
• Has your partner ever refused to practice safe sex?

The morphing of a blog

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Words from Warren started out as thoughts on marriage. Then there was the election of a President who, with his marriages, flaunts disfunction as a virtue.

Besides, what do I know about marriage that you don’t already know from your own experience? Most importantly, only you and your mate have that exact relationship.

The rest of us sometimes try to speak of  a couple’s marriage. Don’t we say they are “happily married”?  What does that even mean? The phrase is trite and so uninformative as to be useless. What then?

Don’t try to describe a marriage. Huh! Now there’s a thought.

Consider this: two people seem to be “happily married” but flinch because they know what they are dealing with on a daily basis. Not really UNhappy but still… Then, there are gossipers who may say something like “Their marriage is a little rocky.” Then couple gets wind of this and it can only stir up guilt or anger. That helps them? I don’t think so.

All of which is to say, in your marriage just be kind, try to listen, have patience, and don’t give up too soon. Forget what others think about your relationship. And don’t even think about their marriages, don’t compare.

And if nothing else, as far marriage goes do not, and I say again do not, let your relationship go the route our adolescent President’s.

We can do it…so let’s do it!

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I have a coverless, water-stained copy of an Unitarian Universalist meditation from when I served as an interim minister in that denomination in the early eighties. It is  73 Voices Chris Raible and Ed Darling, Editors. (Check out the UUA Bookstore for a whole list.)

Today I share one of my very favorite pages.

Assurance   -John Corrado

Be gentle with yourself;

You’re okay.

Life has no erasers –        but  life is okay, too.

Don’t wait for forgiveness.

The only forgiveness you get

is that you take.

Don’t be afraid.

Have faith.

Say “yes” in spite of the temptation to say “no.”

Be a healer.

Address the world with wonder. Engage it with courage:

Daring love Daring trust Daring hope.

Open your soul as if

it were a window

Letting the sun shine in

and letting the light of yourself out.

You can  do  it.

We can  do  it.

So let’s do it!

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