Progressive Populism for the 21st Century

Populismo Progresista para el Siglo XXI!!!
NOVEMBER 20, 2012 8:55AM

Have a Union Thanksgiving

Rate: 8 Flag

UNION BIRD DAY

 

I FOUND THIS ONLINE AND THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE. 

 I am making a point, these days, to only purchase products that are made with American Union-Labor. I am trying my hardest to do this, because so much of what we have around us is made with overseas sweatshop labor. 

 I am also thinking about not purchasing specialized goods from abroad. For example, I am a big fan of German and Czech beer. Its very much possible that the more foreign beer I drink, the less money American brewers make and that this will hurt American labor. 

Thus, I will drink American beer, but only the tastiest kinds. 

Here are some good links on how to buy Union-Made American beer. Remember, not all American beer is brewed by Unions.

 http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Economy/made-in-america-beer

 http://www.unionplus.org/union-made/beers

 http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/drink-union-this-weekend-your-guide-to-union-made-beer/

This issue is  important to me. My working-class, German-American family has been involved in the Labor movement for well over 100 years. My paternal Grandfather was an apprentice brewer from Germany. When he fled the massive poverty and anarchy of his home country in the 1920s, he immediately went to work in the Rheingold brewery and joined what would become the International Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers. Ths group would merge with the Teamsters in the 1970s. 

 My Grandfather made good money with the Union, had two sons and was able to buy a house---something he would have been unable to do in Germany, with his poor, peasant background and family's high level of farming debt. 

My  maternal Great-Grandfather was was a proud, Portuguese-American, World War I Naval Veteran. His family came from Portugal and the Azores and they immigrated to the United States for the great fishing-fleet opportunities. My Great-Grandfather spent his early years fishing, grew to hate fish, but still loved the water. When the war came in 1917 he enlisted and served on convoys in the Atlantic. After the war, he spent some time in France, and took many pictures, all of which I still have. Alot of these pictures concern captured German siege-guns, POWs, and American soldiers marching around on the parade field. There are some pretty ladies in those photos, too...

When he came back from France, he returned to his home town in Brooklyn, NY and joined the Teamsters. He began to drive a coal-delivery wagon, drawn by horses, in the winter. This wagon was converted for ice delivery in the summer. It was a tough job, but you got to interact with lots of people, learned about your neighborhood and became a part of your community. His job was based only 10 blocks away from where he lived. Every morning he would get dressed, put his boots on, and walk to the Wagon-House, where the horses were being bridled and attached to the wagons. Then he would spend 12 hours a day hauling ice and coal all over his and neighboring towns in Brooklyn. Throughout his life, he remained a strong American patriot and Union-supporter. He never trusted Wall-Street, and refused to cross a union picket line. He taught his daughters to do the same. 

My Great Uncle was in the US Army. He served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He also took part in the second wave on Omaha Beach, during the Invasion of Normandy, in 1944. 

 He saw much action during the war, but never really spoke about it until Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," came out. Then he started talking to us about the war. He basically kept his mouth shut for 50 years prior, only occaissionally letting us know little tidbits about his war record. He saw many good buddies die, in close proximity. Guys he spent alot of time with, joked around with, played baseball with during R&R.

When we were younger, my cousins and I would try to get him to tell us war stories. We were raised on action films and were obsessed with the tales of combat and heroics he could share. 

He would kindly try to oblige our youthful interest, and would begin to tell us a classic "war story." However, he would sometimes hit a tough point and tear-up. Then he would either go out for a cigarette and have a beer, or he would turn-on the TV and change the subject. 

Often, when we wanted to hear a "war story," he would start going into some funny baseball story about him and his war buddies. Apparantly, soldiers had lots of down-time and they spent this time forming deep bonds with one another. I think this made the carnage and the death that much more unbearable when it eventually came. It made you refrain from getting close to people, after a while. Made you bottle your feelings up and build walls up around you. By the end of the war, alot of guys, my Great Uncle said, were just sort of empty. 

Anyway, my Great Uncle was born in an orphanage. His parents died in a fire when he was young. He had no prospects when he came back from the war and he wasn't the college type. He took a job at a gas station and joined the Teamsters. He worked there, diligently, from 1946 up until the 1970s. He never ditched work and never took a sick day. He was so tough, and had such a work ethic, had such a miserable, horrible time during the Depression and World War 2, that he could simply not fathom taking a day off from work. He was greatful for his job, loved his job and would go out of his way to go above and beyond his duties as a gas station attendant. But he never got promoted. This never bothered him. He was just happy to be married, have children, and to be able to use the local municipal golf course on the weekend, which he frequented with religious zeal along with his buddies from the VFW. They also drank alot of beer while playing on this golf course. But you know what? He fought at Normandy. He earned it. 

 In the 1970s the gas station changed owners. The new owners promised everybody that if they left the Teamsters they would be given an immediate bonus. The new owners tried every trick in the book to get all the employees to leave the Union. My Great Uncle and 2 other guys refused. The remaining 10 guys sold-out, and quit the Teamsters. Within 2 weeks they were fired, which was management's intended plan, my Great Uncle told me. Well, he stayed in the Union and now "had the number" of management, so to speak. Eventually, the neighborhood Teamsters Local did something to intimidate the gas station owner and he sold the station. The new owner was pro-union and everything was fine after that. My great-uncle kept his job until his 60s and retired with a full pension and benefits, from both the gas station and the military. 

I have many other family members with union backgrounds. My mom was in the SEIU, my brother-in-law is a Teamster. I support the Unions and so should you.

 What's interesting, though, is that many Union folks in the 1950s-1970s were military veterans. Today, I get the impression that few in the military join Unions. What's your sense?

In any event, Buy Union!

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Absolutely! Especially listening to the Walmart stories now. I loved reading your family history too. That was great. /R
Most Americans have been thoroughly indoctrinated with "me first", dog-eat-dog, predatory, greed capitalism, and are suffering the consequences of that corrupt, degrading system.

This is really unfortunate since getting involved in both unions and co-ops could free them from the tyranny of the oligarchs and their obedient political minions.

Sadly, the Americans of today are seldom made of the same courageous stuff as were their immigrant ancestors. The wage slaves no longer find honour in standing up and demanding the respect due to them but prefer to bleat helplessly and be grateful to the wolves who dine luxuriously on their labour.

The "American Dream" lives on in so few that, if not dead, it is surely gasping and near its end.

Rated!
;-)
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There's my favorite Canadian spreading his tidings and good cheer about an entire nation of people he knows nothing about. Well, other than what he makes up in his own mind - most Americans are losers. Of course, people who spout this type of universal disdain about people they have never met are really telling us how they feel about themselves. That's really no surprise since there is a large segment of the liberal population that suffers from a severe degree of self-hate. People are people everywhere. And, they do what they need to do to survive. That economic dissent has been atomized in this nation means that people must do what they must to survive. Just like in Egypt or the former Soviet Union where dissent was/has been atomized. The corporate state has destroyed the concept of community and that means organizing dissent is nearly impossible without jeopardizing your very limited ability to survive in a system of corruption and control. It doesn't mean Americans are selfish or me-first. To the contrary, most Americans I meet are kind and compassionate people. It simply means they do what they must to survive. What he fails to realize is Canada is heading to a same fate. He just doesn't see it. Yet. So his shallow veneer of arrogance riding on an unstable perception of self still controls his behavior. I hope one day you wake up and grant yourself the dignity you deserve. Then you'll be more empathetic to yourself and to others. We are all worthy.

Unions need to be restructured just like corporations. Collective bargaining should be a right granted every American as an expression of economic democracy. Unions as they are structured today benefit a very few who sit in cushy, high-paying jobs while often selling out their fellow workers. The bakers union leadership in this Hostess fiasco arguably effed over the rank and file worker while still maintaining their cushy, high-paying jobs.

I think we would all agree that replacing the Jamie Dimons of the world with Jimmy Hoffas doesn't really buy us a whole lot. Although it does benefit the Jimmy Hoffas. The reality is we need to get rid of both of them. That means restructuring corporate governance as well as union or collective bargaining governance. And, leveling the playing field between capital and labor. A playing field that Reagan and Clinton destroyed in favor of capital. Especially Clinton.

In the mean time, enjoy a great American craft beer and some antibiotic and GMO-free meat. We as a nation now dominate the global beer ratings after being mocked by the Europeans for our ditch water Budweiser and Miller forever. They may not all be union but they are all local and that means they are helping to restore the concept of community to our nation.
Oh my! The illogic of Timing Logic's attempt to re-interpret my comment, solely in the light of what has happened to the American people, as being the fault of those same people. Apparently he/she missed (or selectively ignored) the first paragraph, which read ........

""Most Americans have been thoroughly indoctrinated with "me first", dog-eat-dog, predatory, greed capitalism, and are suffering the consequences of that corrupt, degrading system.""

......or perhaps he/she just doesn't understand the terms "indoctrination" or "suffering", or doesn't accept that people who have been indoctrinated are not to blame for their condition and can only even recognize it when its results are pointed out to them.

As to Canada being headed in the same direction..... there has never been any doubt of that. I have said that so often, on so many blogs and comments, that anyone of 'logic' would know that this is acknowledged by myself - and many other Canadians.

This is also true of all nations that have also adopted predatory greed capitalism due to the aggressive promoting of it by the banks and corporations who so richly profit by it. That aggressive promoting of a philosophy that may well serve the interests of a segment of the economic system, becomes indoctrination (or brainwashing) when it is promoted as a social system as well as an economic one.

As to "most Americans are losers"..... that phrase has only been uttered by him/her. Perhaps he/she thinks in such terms because of the mind conditioning that he/she has been subjected to; that put about by the big money elite. I referred to them as "sufferers."

As to the difficulties with unions, the illogical one seems to think (again due to conditioning?) that no effort at change should be made unless it is to some "perfect" system; that people joining and supporting unions is not a good idea because those unions have been the target of many unscrupulous individuals. In this disparagement of unions, this person is wholly in full agreement with the elite and is parroting their propaganda perfectly.

So sad.......

;-)
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Nice article. If only the beers listed were drinkable :/
This is being posted at an interesting time. The executives of Hostess have basically ruined the company, and are trying to blame the unions for it. This, despite the documentation that they mismanaged the company and ran it into the ground. At the same time, we are about to see if the employees of Walmart will make themselves known at the Black Friday protest.

Y'know, Labor came out heavily for Obama this year. I wonder if Labor feels if they got their money's worth. Obama is certainly better than the Alternative Who Must Not Be Named, but his support of unions in this anti-union time has been pretty tepid.
The only way working people can survive in a period of high unemployment, wage and benefit cuts and attacks on civil liberties is to organize to protect their rights. That should be common sense. However I sense a lot of Americans are so steeped in their arrogant individualism they won't see the value of organizing collectively until it's too late.
The mind conditioning has gone on for many generations now. I don't know how to de-condition those minds. One would thing that they'd have sense enough to know that humans are humans no matter which part of the globe they're born at or emigrate to.

But the propaganda, begun in childhood and maintained throughout all the formative years and adulthood, goes in very very deeply. Tis a damn hard thing to shake off.
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The 11,500 former workers of PATCO, and 18,500 former workers of Hostess, may all need help this Thanksgiving. Let’s do this by sharing this article with them.

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By the way, Hostess had 372 separate collective bargaining agreements with their employees, 80 different health plans, and 40 different pension plans. In many parts of its distribution system, workers who dealt with bread could not touch cake; and workers who dealt with cake could not touch bread. Hence, two crews had to load and unload trucks, as well as shelve and unshelve products, when one crew would often have sufficed.

Further, under some of the Teamster contracts at Hostess, transportation routes that would have required only one truck, and touching products only at the bakery and distribution ends, were required to employ two trucks. An intermediate stop was mandated under the work rules, during which the products were emptied from the first trailer in order to fill a second one to complete the run.

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It all reminds me of the commercial remodeling job I once was on in which I inquired one day why an electrician was standing around, doing no work. The response was that he was waiting for an operating engineer to come move his small ladder to a different part of the room in which he was working.

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Nevertheless, I am certain that Hostess lost $314 million last year, on revenues of $2.8 billion simply because of vastly inflated executive salaries. The Bakers Union, which refused bankruptcy court ordered modifications to its bargaining agreements and then failed to mediate with management in good faith, told its members that there was a buyer for Hostess and that the new buyer would accept the unions.

Hostess management tried to inform union members that this was not true and that the company was at risk if insufficient workers returned to their duties. However, the workers chose to believe their union stewards.

Damn those Hostess executives!

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I am certain that the truth hit the now unemployed Hostess workers as hard as it did the PATCO members who struck in violation of their agreement and the law in 1981. What I am less certain about is whether unions do much good for most workers these days.

I am apparently joined in this uncertainty by millions of workers who now have elected to no longer be union members. I am joined in this uncertainty by the ease with which more than a dozen States have passed ‘right to work’ laws since the height of union membership. I am joined in this uncertainty by those who are able to understand that unreasonable demands for wages and benefits have driven millions of jobs away from America.

What I always fail to understand is the whine that a job pays too little to sustain a certain standard of living. The questions that immediately occur to me when such complaints are raised center on why the employee accepted the job in the first place, and/or why the employee doesn’t adjust his standard of living downward to accommodate the financial constraints of his wages or salary.

It isn’t that I disapprove of employees unionizing, formally or informally, permanently or temporarily, to speak with management in a more powerful way. What I find incomprehensible is their frequent misunderstanding of the other side of the equation.

But, then again, there’s much in this world that I do not understand.
"But, then again, there’s much in this world that I do not understand."

You've got that one right, Chris. Your lack of understanding is actually much more significant than you think. This explains why you were smacked down by the people who commented on your latest post. You should take the cue from Gordon, who has now become more than a laughingstock, and retire from OS before you embarrass yourself further.
[r] thanks so much for this inspiring blog and sharing! best, libby