How beggarly appear arguments before a defiant deed! — Walt Whitman
Well, my office luncheon went off without a hitch. Sort of. As in, the air conditioning was fixed in the break room, so there was no need to crash on the office. So it really just went nowhere. It did attract the attention of a few people who were not terribly amused, namely my steward. He told me that I was trying to “break the culture” of the plant, that I wouldn’t be able to do it in a week or six months or whatever. The thing is, I’m really not trying to break any culture. If anything, I’m trying to take my cues from the historical culture of the Labor movement. The part about dignity and fairness and respect for one’s efforts and work. And equality. Equal pay for equal work. I stress, again, that I’m not mad at anyone making top pay. The vast majority of those people making top pay, or close to it, have put in a great deal of time to get to that. The union got them that. I just want the union to get us that, too. We, the stepchildren, the consolation prizes. The homely friends of the really hot girls.
I was talking with a new co-worker, who came from a different plant. She told me that when she went to some training a while back, there was a lavish spread of food for management, but the union folks just had some little bullshit boxed lunches. When they complained about not having the big spread, they were told that they could go, after management was finished, and have whatever was left. Literally, they could have the bosses’ scraps and leftovers. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there’s something wrong with that. It smacks of the historical legacy of slavery, when people lived in shacks and ate the scraps in the kitchen. Whatever the masters decided they didn’t want, whatever wasn’t good enough for them. Now, I know it’s a stretch to equate a continental breakfast with total deprivation and degradation, but the impetus is the same. The disrespect is the kith and kin.
We deserve as good as anyone else. We work just as hard, we have the same struggles. We work to feed our families, same as anyone. We shouldn’t have to eat scraps. And we can eat in the kitchen by choice.
Stepchild in the Promised Land.