Look for the Union Label

I don’t remember what inspired this train of thought this morning. Maybe it was when I drove past the junk antique shop with the Republican signage, or maybe it was just thinking about how my labels have changed although I don’t actually think my core positions have. But anyway, I started thinking about politics and political party affiliation. Over the years I’ve been affiliated with several different parties, mostly because I’d be attracted by some policies but then later repelled by either the actions of the politicians or by the real platform of the party. It took a lot of disillusionment and protest to get me around to where I am today. But fundamentally, I think people are important, more so than are things. Property is nice, certainly, and I sure do like living indoors and having a computer, but I’m not prepared to enslave or kill anyone to make that happen.

I was in a job interview recently and one of the interviewers looked at my resume and asked, “So, your degree is in drama. How did you get to software engineering from there?” This question always comes up. Depending on how I feel at the time and what I think about the people I’m talking to, I tell the story differently. I never lie, but of course one can tell the same story different ways to emphasize different points. This time, I mentioned that if I’d wanted to keep on the track from my degree (I’d been focused on theater tech, particularly electrical) then I’d either have to go to grad school and join the union or I’d have to go find a shop to apprentice in and join the union. I’d worked with union stagehands and electricians when outside events came to campus and I hadn’t been terribly impressed. I recognize that unions exist because without them the workers would be exploited horribly. I think it’s terrible that they have to exist and I deplore the management practices that make them necessary. In fact, I refuse to work in an environment where unions are the only way workers can get treated with some decency.

This post is now all of three paragraphs long, and it has taken me half an hour to write it. Once upon a time, I would have spewed out several pages by this time, but I wouldn’t have believed half of what I wrote and nobody would have been interested in reading it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a clear idea of where this was going when I started out and now I’ve forgotten what point, if any, I was going to make. Something about people being important (did that, paragraph one) and the story about how I dislike unions but at the same time I recognize that they’re necessary (did that, paragraph two). Anyway, I have piping to get done and that’s all the profitless noodling I’m going to do for today.

Published by pirateguillermo

I play the bagpipes. I program computers. I support my family in their various endeavors, and I enjoy my wonderful life.

One thought on “Look for the Union Label

  1. Lise Quintana – Northern California – Lise Quintana, host of Living Large in America, is a writer, editor, and podcaster from Santa Cruz. She blogs about her own weight journey at http://www.lisequintana.com
    junglemonkee says:

    It’s funny – I’ve never cared for unions. When I was a kid, the only unions of which I was aware were the auto workers’ union and various labor unions on the East Coast. Unions weren’t a part of my consciousness in Phoenix, and what I understood about unions showed me that, having prevented management from exploiting the workers, the unions were going overboard and creating a situation where the workers were demanding more total compensation than they deserved. I heard so many stories about trash collectors in New York driving BMWs and only working 20 hours a week, auto workers who could come to work drunk or do a terrible job and couldn’t be fired, etc., and I thought that was unfair.

    I never took it far enough to realize the really great point you’re making, which is that if you have a choice, you can work for managers who treat their workers fairly in the first place and make unions unnecessary.

    You’re smart *and* compassionate. And cool.

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