Saturday, September 6, 2014

PRAISES FOR LABORING PEOPLE: A LABOR DAY REPRISE


I've always felt close to organized labor although my own career paths have been in high education, financial management and ministry.

I had an affinity with the Teamsters union during my college years from 1961 to 1966. I was lucky to have had a full time summer job in the pickle plant at Nalley's Fine Foods in Tacoma, WA. The pickle plant was organized by the Teamsters.

With great fondness, I recall the Teamsters organizer, Charlie Curran. Mr. Curran visited with me during each of my summer vacation jobs. He was of middle heighth, probably in his fifties, always friendly and with plenty of smiles.

I supported my Teamsters local. All of my fellow workers were members of it, and they were proud of it. Personally, I knew that my good pay and other benefits were due to Teamster negotiations with management. Though I was not required to joint the union, I felt affinity with it. I could not understand the hate toward the Teamsters that some of my acquaintances expressed. Possible they hated the entire union because of the reputation of the national president, Jimmy Hoffa. I report more about my ancient connection with the Teamsters in Growing Green Two Ways! in Chapter 9, "A Tank Rat, Proudly!"

Beyond this connection with the Teamsers, when I campaigned for the Washington State legislature in 2002, I was supported strongly by fire, police, teachers and aerospace unions. I had more contact with another supportive union: SEIU.

As a Christian, I appreciate the words of a hymn, "O Master Workman of the Race," in which we sing to Jesus as the master workman of the race. Jesus was a carpenter, a laborer, and that fact adds dignity to all labor occupations.

My hope for the working person in America is for better equity in the national pay scale, better health care, and continued pension, Medicare and Social Security systems. Labor is under-appreciated. Labor Day should be an annual time of national re-commitment to the welfare of the laboring person in the United States.

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