Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Card-Carrying Member

Here’s a fact that not many people know about me. I am a member of the UAW. As a member of the Professional and Administrative Union at the university where I was employed, I was—for reasons known only to God and Walter Reuther— a de facto member of the UAW. At one point there were a couple of real perks. UAW members could fly on Pro Air out of City Airport standby to Pro Air’s destination cities, like DC, Newark, and Indianapolis, for $25. But Pro Air folded up its wings and City Airport closed to commercial jets, in part because the good folks of Grosse Pointe didn’t like planes flying overhead.

If the UAW had asked me whether they should strike against General Motors, I think I would have told them it didn’t seem like a bright idea. The whole economic climate in Michigan is pretty bleak. It used to be that if you wanted a house in Grosse Pointe, you befriended a realtor and hoped to get a jump on all the other people eager to move to the Pointes. Now a drive down any street nets a whole slew of houses for sale. The auto companies are in bad shape and I don’t think a long drawn out strike is in their interest. The university where I worked and where Ernie taught is consolidating and eliminating departments. Did I mention that the entire state is going to close down? The Tigers have blown it. There are still (sardonic smile) the Lions.

It looks, however, as if the whole strike thing is over. I lived through a strike or two while I was employed. My favorite memory is of the Vice President who came into the office to man the phones when the clerical staff was on strike. I am sure he was thinking, “How hard can this be?” But after an hour he was looking rather pale and suddenly remembered an important meeting.

Yesterday the President of this same university resigned. We live in interesting times. I am glad I am too old to picket.

1 comment:

candyschultz said...

But on the other hand, without unions we would be back where we were in the early 20th century. They are trying to break the unions, and they may succeed thanks to our current government in D.C. I certainly believe the unions have gone way overboard but to not have them and not use the strike threat means to give up all rights for working people and go back to sweatshops. And then to fight all those old battles over again, just as we now have to fight to have safe food and drugs.