The Prompt –Pittsburgh has deep ties to labor movements. Are you or have you been a union member? How has union culture shaped your life? Do you believe we need more or fewer unions now in both the public and private sectors?
I am a relatively new member of the National Writers Union. I also belong to several writing associations as part of my new commitment to strengthen my blog writing skills.
I joined to gain skills, but also to feel connected and a sense of solidarity. I also recognize the art and craft of writing in all forms is not a dying art, but a threatened craft – we can create all we want, but how dare we seek compensation?
My father was a steelworker and part of the union until he moved into management in the late 1980s. He did not respect his union because he felt it squelched his individuality and protected bad employees. His loyalty was to his company, not a union. He did acknowledge that labor unions improved labor conditions, but he felt there were no internal mechanism to avoid the same corruptions that pervade corporations. So he threw his hat into the corporation ring, a decision that makes more sense if you understand his personal story.
In spite of or because of my father’s opinions, I believe in unions as a necessary and often vital part of the American economy.
I’ve never had the option to join a union except for the NWU. I’ve worked in the non-profit sector my entire career and there are very few unionized workplaces there. One time, I took a job as a manager and found a very thick file on how to ‘discourage’ union talk amongst employees. Sigh.
Of course I think unions are critical parts of the American economy. I wrote this post about my cousin’s cousin dying at the age of 12 in the 19th century because of work conditions. You should read it to better understand what and why I believe this.
Throwing back to an earlier prompt, I wish there was an efficient way for me to learn about labor history in Pittsburgh.