Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walking the Line

I have been 'on strike', officially, once in my life.  Refusing to do cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. until my husband and kids helped out doesn't count as 'official'. 

It was in late 1969 that the union I was represented by at the City of Detroit took a strike vote.  Actually, it was a 'call in sick' vote, fitting for hospital workers. I do not even remember the reason we did it.  I left the city for a year from 1968 to 1969 because they hadn't settled the union contract and I was offered more money at Hutzel hospital.  I went back in July, 1969 when the contract had been settled.  In the fall we spent one day on the picket line.  Mayor Cavanaugh went into court and got an injunction.  Facing daily fines for walking out, we all went back to work.  And the hospital suffered no loss from us since we made sure the labs were minimally staffed.

The 1994-95 baseball strike left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I used to go to a lot of baseball games.  I enjoyed sitting there and watching the game, boring as some may think.  Not I.  Returning home from a trip to Baltimore in June, 1995, I decided to swing by old Tiger Stadium and see the Tigers play the Yankees.  OMG.  The stadium was practically empty.  This was the Yankees.  Where was everyone?

Like I did, many had not forgiven their teams from striking.  And it forever affected my attendance at games.

Now I read that the musicians at the DSO are ready to walk out.  And go where?  Your salaries come from patrons like myself.  I was ready to stop being a season subscriber but after talking to someone from the DSO earlier this year, I decided to continue.  The strike may mean this is truly the last year for me.

I understand disagreements with management.  I have been on both sides of the bargaining table.  Sometimes disagreements go far beyond wages and benefits and get into more difficult things like working conditions.  (We joked at the City that workers at the old Detroit Receiving/General received combat pay.) 

But the long term unseen effects of strikes are not usually considered by workers.  And that is that folks will take their money elsewhere during the void and may never bring it back.

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