Frank Maguire
Unions and how factions produce political fractures
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By Frank Maguire
February 26, 2011

I, like Lisa Fabrizio, lived in the typical East-Coast-ethnic (mine was 100 proof Irish) enclave. Liza's bio tells us that she is "from" Stamford, Connecticut, and is now a resident, as her web-page asserts, somewhere in the People's Republic of Connecticut. I'm from South Boston/Dorchester, People's Republic of Massachusetts.

We are kindred, in that I relate to her "Thank God, the Blessed Virgin, all of the Saints and Angels in Heaven, and those who are currently roaming around in corporeal form, for the union-leader saviors whom we the people beatify." I was politically/culturally legitimized by having been basted in this anti-, protest-ant (and, anti-Protestant), Social Gospel mutton-stew.

I was reared in it and was in arrears (condition of being behind or delayed, condition of having an uncompleted duty) because of it until I broke away from my People's Republic that abuts Lisa's People's Republic.

Allow me to add a bit to Lisa's very good article. Anecdotes from my experience, mostly!

I, as a disciple of Jesus Christ and one who strives to be a conservator of those things crucial, i.e., worth saving, and as a relatively stable realist who eschews the instability of emotional, glandular reaction which substitutes as thought, I don't oppose the organization of workers in respect to their bettering the conditions under which they have chosen to work. In theory! There are recalcitrant employers just as there are rebellious employees.

I do absolutely oppose any and all unionization of any and all public employees, and I do unyieldingly dispute the illegal use of the dues required of persons who are forced into union bond-service for purposes of electing those who polish the handles on the big brass doors of union headquarters. Factional, self-serving cliques are the antithesis of a democratic-republican system of governance.

I did say that I am a realist, so I separate theory from actuality. The positive benefits of recognizing the rights of workers to defend themselves when required is reasonable to any person who doesn't have some ulterior motive in opposition.

Every person who is unjustly assaulted by an autocratic tyrant or an organized "mob," must enjoy the reasonable right of defending himself. Even those portrayed as evil, exploitative, greedy-capitalist types by the quasi-anarchist ochlocracy.

And contrary to what some of the social-gospel ram's horn-blowers would have us believe, Scripture makes it very plain: we are to show NO favoritism. And, certainly we are not to act in greed, in cupiditas, ungraciously and un-lovingly in our own self-interest.

To my anecdotes!

When I was a student at a California college, I worked for the U.S. Post Office as a carrier. Before I had achieved permanent carrier status, an incident occurred (in West L.A., Brentwood area) that helped form my subsequent attitude about unions, especially public-employee unions.

On this particular day, I was scheduled to carry the route of one of the older carriers who had been in service for many years. A very nice fellow! We got along just fine. Now, he was about 60 and I was 18. He knew the route, which was the longest, in terms of distance, in the station. I didn't know the route, but had been an athlete, lettering in baseball, basketball, track, and cross-country. As long as I didn't get lost or break a leg the length of a route was no problem.

The mail load was about average on the day of the incident — the day of my epiphany. As I recall, it was a beautiful clear, cool day — virtually no formidable hills on the route. Perfect weather and an unchallenging terrain — great for cross-countrying!

I went about my business, and when finished I went back to the station. I didn't have to do that, I could have, e.g., gone to a movie, or some predetermined...assignation that did not, if espied, reflect negatively on postal employees. I could have even gone home for a nap, with pay. But, I decided to go back and "throw" the mail for the next day so that the regular carrier would find it done properly and accurately.

When I appeared, the station supervisor looked quite surprised. "Are you finished?" he said. "Yep," I responded. He smiled, looked at the clock, and said, "I don't think so. Let's go take a look and see if you missed anything." We set out in his car, hit every corner where mail was placed along the route, in a storage "box," for me to pick-up and deliver to the neighborhood.

We covered the whole route and the supervisor said, "Well, I guess you are finished." He seemed pleased. (I remind you, that supervisors were not unionized.) He said that after I finished up at the station, I could leave. This was the s.o.p. All the world seemed rosy for me, had had a productive day, and done my job well. I thought!

The following morning as I arrived at work, the carrier who was the union steward escorted me to a spot where he could explain, fortissimo, the facts of life. He gave me unholy Hell. He told me that what I had done was embarrassing to the regular carrier and that I was never to do such a thing again. I wisely answered "Huh?"

I thought about the irrationality of what was going on with the tax-payers' money. I thought about how any nit-wit could be upset that an 18 year-old cross-country runner "ran" the distance more quickly than a 60 year old guy. What's going on here, I mused.

No need for me to apprise you readers, you know the routine.

So, on to anecdote number two!

Years later, in Brockton, MA, I applied for a job with a large national company. During the interview, I was asked "How do you feel about unions?" I replied that I felt fine about unions, but that I was a member of a National Right-to-Work organization, and I believed that forced unionization was immoral, and should be as unconstitutional as being forced to tithe to a "church" that establishes itself as The National Church.

The interviewer hesitated. He said, well, we aren't a closed-shop, so you won't be forced — but you will be pressured — to join the union. I caution you to keep your mouth shut about "right to work." There are too many ways in some parts of this facility where you can be...injured.

I didn't have to decide about the job, for I did not hear back from the personnel department of the company. I assumed that anyone who hired such as me could also be "hurt."

Anecdote number three!

While still a resident of People's Republic North of Lisa, I was doing my music thing. My gig was on lovely Cape Cod, in the most beautiful village-by-the-bay, East Sandwich. An idyllic site!

One night, after business, about 2:00 a.m., I sat at the restaurant's bar with the manager, just making small talk. The manager was also a prof at the most renowned Catholic high school in Boston. He taught Latin and some recondite (to me) math subject. He was, as was I, a Boston bred Irish boy'o, outspoken and forthcoming in all ways required. I had seen him, one night, knock an obnoxious, finger-jabbing lawyer through a trellis with one rapidly delivered blow. Debate, over!

And, though he had not witnessed my rush-to-the-rescue one-rounder, where I kept our bartender from receiving a sneak-punch from some rather substantial jackass, and his two male and one female accomplices, my reputation had spread rapidly — thanks to the grateful bartender — around town. (The police showed up and escorted the aggressive members of the group to the slammer.) Thus, our manager did not regard me in the same way he thought of the mouthy, finger-jabbing lawyer. For I too could be righteously forthcoming

The topic came around to labor unions. Oh, oh! A clash of the Titans? There ensued a high-volume fireside chat. The gist of it was that unions are the gift of the gods given to the poor, sickly, and generally underprivileged as a weapon against the greedy exploiters of the aforementioned.

I listened to his rant and said, "Look, I'm Irish too, so don't give me that moralistic mularkey (I used a different word). If you want to belong to a union, that's your business but don't try to tell me that there is something righteous and holy in it." He looked very unhappy, but didn't stir. My jabs were not of the finger-poking variety, they were merely verbal.

All of a sudden he bellowed, "O.K.! O.K.! We are going to get ours first.."

I said, "See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" I finished my coffee and headed back the sixty miles to my middle-class, non-union domicile.

© Frank Maguire

 

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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

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