One of the many perks of union membership is the monthly newsletter, a grim and humorless document that gives you an idea what newspapers would be like if Labor ran everything. They’re absolutely tedious to read. They’re boring to look at. Everything is always a Struggle; the fat cats are ever-poised to snatch away hard-fought gains, because that’s what fat cats do. Working Families are hardest hit by everything – except taxes, of course.
The latest issue was predictable. Self-aggrandizing equivalence with Arab protestors? Check! The editorial cartoon, “Wisconsin Flag 2011,” shows a crest with two old-time guys – one’s a minor, the other a sailor, or perhaps a rope maker – standing next to a hodgepodge of labor symbols, over which stands a badger, and a banner that says “forward.” Mind you, this is the newsletter for the Newspaper Guild. Even a 1200 baud modem would be an jarring insertion of modernity. The cartoon says “Rebellion to Tyrants” and the top and “Democracy for Workers” at the bottom, a link that might have made perfect immediate sense in 1776. An account of a union meeting in Florida last February concludes the opening paragraph thus:
“They heard a forceful call for sweeping changes, approved a wide-ranging set of initiatives – and returned home to a resurgent labor movement nationwide and a parallel explosion of reformist uprisings in northern Africa.”
This is the publication of the Newspaper Guild, remember. People returned home to a parallel explosion in Africa. Okay. Got it. Of these “wide-ranging” initiatives, the first in the list was “use of an electronic reporting system of dues payments.” Priorities, priorities. Of course there was a call to “strengthen Guild activities on behalf of equity, diversity, and inclusion,” as well as a resolution to create a Seal of Quality to let people know the reporting was “fair, even-handed and credible.” Yes. A Seal of Quality. Perhaps a rope maker making the thumbs-up sign.
The CWA, the parent union, has a list of “attacks on working families,” and #2 seems a bit odd:
“PAYCHECK DECEPTION. Campaigns backed by right-wing and corporate groups to take away workers’ rights to a voice in the political process.”
Since the description does not seem to have anything to do with deceived paychecks, you wonder what they mean. Ah hah: the end of forcing the state to collect union dues, perhaps? Could that be it? Requiring people to write out a check for their own dues instead of deducting it from their paycheck is paycheck deception? You think you have more money, but you’ve been deceived! It’s ours! All ours!
Then there’s the local labor review, which put the Wisconsin situation in these terms: “In Madison, Wisconsin – and in St. Paul, Minnesota – and in other state capitols in the Midwest, union members and supporters are rising up in response to a wave of legislative attacks aimed at crippling both public sector and private sector unions. The fight is not about budget deficits. It’s a war on workers. It’s a war on the middle class.”
Glad we could clear that up for you. Nothing to do with deficits! Why, those could be solved by taxing the Koch brothers; everyone knows that. It’s war on the workers. In case you missed the point, the lead editorial on the second page is headlined “The debate is not about budgets . . . it’s a war on workers and unions.” Okay then. If you say so. Tempted as you might be to read the editorial, your eye is drawn to the cartoon, which shows a man named BIG OIL saying “Due to unrest in the middle reast there will be an unavoidable increase in the price of oil,” and there’s a cartoon thought-bubble that shows him rejoicing amidst a flurry of money. I’ve read My Little Pony books that had more depth and complexity.
Inside there’s an announcement of the staging of two Upton Sinclair novels, “The Jungle” (1906) and “Oil! (1927), and a description assures us that the performance will include “dance, movement, (and) puppetry.” Dance AND movement? I’m there.
But here’s the fun part.
“The 600 airport security screeners at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport are among some 44,000 Transportation Security Administration employees nationwide now taking part in an election to determine whether or not they will be represented by a union.”
Yes. The hand that gropes the junk maybe unionized soon. Bush forbade this when the TSA was created. Obama changed that. You were just thinking how we need to make it tougher to fire incompetents who are bad at screening people or just plain surly and mean, weren’t you? Or how cool it would be if your kid’s trip to Disneyland was cancelled because the union struck over the government’s refusal to increase their wages by 5% instead of 4?
Don’t worry. It could happen. It had better happen, or all those people rioted in Cairo for nothing.
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