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[photos|politics] In which I go to a political protest - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-02-26 06:38
Subject: [photos|politics] In which I go to a political protest
Security: Public
Tags:family, photos, politics, portland, wisconsin, writing
Yesterday [info]tillyjane a/k/a my mom called me up and asked me to go to a protest in support of the Wisconsin public sector unions. I hemmed and hawed about skipping out on my writing time, but decided that the novel would still be there after the opportunity for civic participation had passed. I figure there were about four or five hundred people there once it got going, a mixture of teachers, nurses, trade union guys and political activists. The weather was clear and quite cold, so I did not last through the entire rally.

There are some aspects of the union movement I am uncomfortable with. My father was a U.S. diplomat, so I did not grow up in a household where labor issues were much on anyone's mind on a daily basis. My first awareness of unions was the Teamster's strike, back in the mid-seventies, when scabs were being killed. Specifically, a non-union busdriver who ran into a brick-on-a-rope trap at an underpass, if I recall correctly. That and Jimmy Hoffa. My next awareness was a cross-country family trip to a major theme park that arrived after months of planning and weeks of travel and promises to find it closed due to an employee strike. Let's just say I wasn't emotionally primed as a child to see unions as a force for good.

At the same time, I like forty-hour work weeks and paid vacations and benefits packages. Those things did not become standards in the American workplace thanks to the Invisible Hand of the market, or to competition between employers. They became standards because of decades of risky and sometimes fatal union activism. Even if you've never paid union dues in your life, even if you believe that unions are satanic tools of the socialist Left, if you work for a living, you owe them a great deal. Unions have done far more for you than your employer ever would have left to the magic of market self-regulation and unfettered capital. That's a perspective that's utterly lost on most rank and file conservatives today.

I don't know if this is a Martin Niemoller moment in our society or not, but I went to stand with the Communists and the trade unionists yesterday. What have you done to protect your freedom?

A few photos...


[info]tillyjane her own self

A teacher


One of the union guys

Sousaphone player warming up — he was camera shy

Old Glory and an ideal

Sometimes even the signs have signs.

All this took place in the afternoon shadows beneath the brightly-lit Nordstrom's facade — I found this ironic, though I'm not sure anyone else even noticed

I asked this young protestor what the red flag meant to him; he said, "Class solidarity."

As usual, more at the Flickr set.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Post A Comment | 14 Comments | | Link

scarlettina: Have A Cookie
User: scarlettina
Date: 2011-02-26 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Have A Cookie
Great shots, Jay. I love the photo of your mom; she's awesome. I've always thought so. I also like the union guy and the old glory shots. Nicely done.
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User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-02-26 16:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Question: How well do you know the rank-and-file conservatives? I ask because I'm not convinced they share their ostensible leaders' bilious stances or beliefs.

I don't know them well, but I'm an introvert. You, being an extrovert, may know far more than I.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-26 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not that well personally, though I number some among my friends and acquaintances. That is of course purely anecdotal.

However, the virulently antiunion rhetoric of highly popular media and political figures strongly suggests that millions of people do go along with those bilious stances and beliefs. Also, remember that registered Republicans as a group poll strongly for some pretty bizarre beliefs already. I don't why I would expect an outbreak of rationality on this issue.
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User: madrobins
Date: 2011-02-26 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What have you done to protect your freedom?

This will sound wimpy, but: I sent the protesters in Wisconsin a pizza. (I'm up to my hips in Nebula ballots and didn't even leave the house yesterday. Wimp wimp wimp.)

That said, there's a great energy about going out in support of people whose cause you believe in.
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User: voidampersand
Date: 2011-02-26 17:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wimpy would be asking the protesters to send him a hamburger.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-02-26 16:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am a union member. I have been on strike (not fun, let me tell you, especially during a cold and stormy November). I am a building rep, and I am my union's Member Assistance Committee chair.

If I hadn't been feeling so crappy, I would have gone to this. I suspect there will be plenty many more opportunities for these protests.

And I like the red flag protester.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2011-02-26 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
In addition to forty-hour work weeks and paid vacations and benefits packages, there's also that whole "weekend" thing which a lot of people seem to enjoy, but which didn't always exist. :)
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User: crystalrmartin
Date: 2011-02-26 18:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My Mom busted her butt for her union, A.W.P.P.W Local 580 for a lot of years. I remember standing with her during Weyerhauser strikes, it became a family affair.

Her Father was also in the his union for railroad workers. She once stopped a union pacific train, told the engineer her father was union pacific, and he willingly held up traffic for twenty minutes to help out. :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-26 21:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a heck of a history...
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2011-02-27 00:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I used to belong to a union (before I became self-employed). We once went without a contract for almost two years because of the personnel officer from hell. There are times I wish I could belong to a union for the self-employed [wry g].
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The Green Knight: Inner Feminist
User: green_knight
Date: 2011-02-27 00:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Inner Feminist
I signed up for a place on a coach to London on March 26th when Britain will demonstrate. If Lybians can protest knowing they will get shot at, we can, too.
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User: emmainfiniti
Date: 2011-02-27 02:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is when I wish LJ had a "like" button.
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User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2011-02-27 03:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What have you done to protect your freedom?

My father has been a thirty-year member of the IBEW, attended most of the union meetings and is a well-known and respected member of the trade in the Bay Area (since the Sacramento JATC found out he was moving to their area they've tried to get him to come teach apprentices three times).

My mother is a RN and was involved in some of the nursing strikes during the '80's and '90's against Kaiser-Permanente.

I have been a member of three unions: the grocers union, SEIU as a government clerk, and United Healthcare Workers. I went on strike in 2002 with my fellow county employees in order to bring up county-employee wages just to the average level of similar employees across the state (after three years of analysis we found out we were at the high end of the lower third of all California counties). At the same time I was striking in order to gain representation, as temp employees (which the county had a lot of) were not represented by SEIU and we got screwed in many ways because of it. When I was with UHW I was elected a union steward and represented members' interests in contract negotiations and grievance disputes and got a reputation for being a bull-dog when it came for making manager's behave to the point that the union wanted me to come work for them. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't (UHW has done some shady things recently) but, yeah, generally pro-union as long as the union is living up to its end of the bargain.
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User: thefaeway
Date: 2011-02-27 09:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
At one point in history, our military protected freedom. Before my "contract" expires, it may be necessary to do so again.

And for those anti-military...I kinda hope it's on the home soil.
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