The state of Michigan has an Emergency Financial Manager law that was recently enacted. It is like the one in Wisconsin, which allows the governor to break any contracts with public unions and place an EFM in charge of any elected body. It’s a frightening weapon against working people’s right to self-determination. If we have no say in how we are governed, how are we any better than a colony? And to whom are we subject? And if the governor is the one appointing the overseer, to whom do we appeal when the inevitable abuses of power occur?
I took some petitions to repeal this act around my plant in the few minutes of free time that I could eke out over the last few days. I was prepared for a lot of blank looks and being blown off by my co-workers about signing anything. I had more or less accepted that the days of union advocacy were an anachronism, a thing of the past. I expected a handful of people to sign it, being polite, or a little curious, or at least, not opposed to signing things. But I hadn’t heard anything from my union about this petition drive, and so I just went ahead on my own. I’m nothing if not a concerned citizen.
Well. Count me among the faithful and the revived. I have never been so thrilled and proud to be dead wrong. I have grown up doing door-to-door campaigns and am totally used to having doors literally slammed in face or people telling me that they aren’t registered to vote, or whatever else. Just general rejection. What I was completely unprepared for was the two dozen signatures I was able to collect in ten minutes. Or the people coming up to me to ask what the petition was about. Or the sheer percentage of REGISTERED VOTERS!
My plant is big; sprawling. One of the high points of having to go anywhere is being able to catch a ride with someone who has a cart. It cuts down on walking, saves time and kinda reminds me of being able to get a ride home in high school. Even if you only lived a few blocks away. It was the ride that counted, right? But sometimes, that ride is just not the thing. One of the supervisors who always offers me a ride (a ride I usually accept), rolled up and offered to drop me at the union office, where I was walking.
I declined the ride and got lost going to my destination. I also caught about another five or six signatures and had time to talk to people I hadn’t known before. It was a good reminder: The destination is so rarely the most important part of the journey. I was thrilled; so, so proud of my union brothers and sisters. Five pages of signatures later, I’ll be back at it today.
Stepchild in the Promised Land