Monday, September 4, 2023

Remembering Our Roots

I’ve been noting with some interest the kinds of clip art images that various institutions use for Labor Day. So far my most unfavorite is one depicting faceless white workers and lots of American flags. The image I like the best was shared by a teacher friend of mine

“Labor Movement” poster by Ricardo Levins Morales

On the page of Morales’ art website where you can order this poster, this sentence caught my eye:

The social gains of humanity did not invent themselves and will not defend themselves. Only organized people can do that. - - Ricardo Levins Morales

In Columbia/HoCo some folks are all about organizing if it means protesting school redistricting or new housing while taking a dim view of labor organizing and unions. For instance, they claim that the very fact that teachers belong to a union shows that they do not truly care about the kids, but only the money.

But organizing is organizing. You join together because you care passionately about something. It is your desire to create change by working together with others. Why are matching t-shirts and passionate petition drives okay for the well-to-do but not for workers?

I have had jobs where I was treated fairly and jobs where I was not. I’ve observed plenty of labor violations in environments where no one was in a position to object. The less power you have to object, the more likely management is to plan their business model around ignoring basic worker rights. Why? Because they can. And it becomes a deeply entrenched mindset that they wouldn’t be able to operate any other way. Those who suggest otherwise are accused of being anti-business, attacking small business, and so on.

The risks to frontline workers during the early part of the pandemic years prompted me to write two pieces about who suffers most.

The Truth About Choice, Village Green/Town², May 19, 2020

Still Need More Voice for Choice, Village Green/Town², May 19, 2021

If you wonder why “nobody” seems to want to work those jobs anymore it might be helpful to understand that those people got sick more, died more, and are experiencing more long term disability from COVID than affluent folks who had more choices. 

It is no surprise to me that we are seeing a resurgence of labor organizing across the country and here in HoCo. When you demand that others make sacrifices for the greater good and it becomes clear that your real intent is to sacrifice others to protect yourself…

It’s a breathtaking betrayal.

The social gains of humanity did not invent themselves and will not defend themselves. Only organized people can do that. 

Happy Labor Day. A great day to appreciate what the workers in Morales’poster have done for you, and to ponder what you can do to support and respect workers today.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.