Unionize now! : An Otherworld

Unionize now!

by Daniel R. Hirtler on 08/08/11

Yesterday, George and I took a tour of a coal mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The experience made me think about the necessity of organization to be able to hold our individual own in an ever harsher society.

The tour was fun, if weird. Alot of mindless tourists with children, bent on taking some free token out of the mine, entirely oblivious to the story of horrific hardship which was the life of those who mined coal. I was struck by the fact which was presented that the miners were hired as private contractors, paid for product they produced, rather than asked to do a job as employees, whose time was compensated, and not asked to take on the financial burden of the unexpected conditions that are a necessary part of mining. George was the only other person on the tour who found that condition problematic. The tour included alot of dangerous child labor, some animal cruelty, and a heavy dose of racisim. There was no particular reaction from the crowd.

At the end of the tour, while we were waiting for the second hoist car to pull us back to the surface, George was chatting with the tour guide who was waiting with us. Something was said about the unions, and the antagonism and violence which came as the miners became unionized. It started to occur to me, that we have all lost the thread of understanding about the meaning of organization.

Labor organizing, or any other type of aggregation of individual force into something larger is not something that a person needs permission to do, whether in the workplace or any other place. If one can define common interests, it is a human right (to be cherished and defended) to associate with those who share those interests. In the association, becoming one in purpose with those of common interest, will bring with it the force of a group...the larger and more unified the purpose of the group, the stronger the force.

It used to be that it was within the workplace only that one could communicate with the workers in a workplace. With social networking, it is possible to aggregate people with common interests, and their supporters out in public, and, if there is a group who can organize those interests into demands and consequences, it seems like an external, untouchable Union could be formed using social networking tools. It is the threat of mutiny that gives a Union the ability to bargain for workplace conditions, not the permission to unionize. Certainly the early Unions were imposed on workplaces without the permission of the employer.

With our elected government acting as an oligarchy, there is a popular destructive rage developing, which should instead be turned into a time to regroup and rebuild a new alliance among us. Thinking of unionizing ourselves with each other using our new tools of connection might be a good way.

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