Unions

Previously Published on Blogetary 1.0 on April 2013.

You know, I’ve been brooding over something the last few days because someone I know made a derogatory remark about unions last week. And the remark they made assumed all union members are lazy “featherbedders”. And it’s hurt and rankled ever since. But, I’m not in a position to say anything to that person, so I’m saying it here instead.

My parents were both very hardworking people all of their adult working lives. They were also Teamsters. The living wages they were able to get because they were part of a union is what put clothes on our backs and food in our fridge, shoes on our feet, and pay for things like glasses, coats, boots, books and school supplies, not to mention the heating bill, the water, the garbage and the mortgage on the small trailer my mom bought.

 

In fact, before my mom had a union job, there were times when we had problems with many of those issues.

Teamsters living wage along with financial aid, made it possible for me and my sister to attend university.

Teamsters pension helps fill in the gaps for my parents where social security and medicare don’t always go.

I am now also a member of the National Writers Union and the Freelancers Union. Hopefully, being part of this union will help me find more freelance gigs and because I’m part of these unions, I have a better chance at finding affordable healthcare.

I remember in high school over half my friends had parents with union jobs that also put clothes on their backs and food on their tables. And those parents were not “featherbedders.” They were hardworking folk who earned every single red cent they worked for.

So, before anyone goes off badmouthing people in unions, just think about what life was like before there were unions – when children were working in factories and people worked 7 days a week for wages that did not put food on the table or clothes on peoples backs and did not provide healthcare for them. Think about the people you know who grew up with parents who were in unions or who are in unions themselves. Teachers are some of the hardest working people I know. They are professionals who deserve a professional wage, yet if they didn’t have their unions people would spare no thought about taking away their living wages. And if you can’t afford to pay for good teachers then you will not have good education in your school systems and your children’s education will suffer.

Our lives are collectively better because of unions. Because unions asked for a 40 hour week, we all have a 40 hour week. Because unions asked for holidays and vacation pay, we all get those. Or should anyway. This is 2013, you’d think we’d not have to worry about any of that anymore, but some people still think it should be 1913.

I just want to be able to say this loud and publicly, that unions are a good thing and the hardworking union members do not deserve to be considered lowlifes or lazy when I know how hard they work, how hard my parents worked.

In Honor of Poetry Month: Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

Previously Published on Blogetary 1.0 April 2013

I forget how very talented my friends are sometimes. They’re my friends. We sit around drinking tea and coffee and discuss physical and emotional aches, pains, triumphs and losses. And the fact that they work very hard at being the best writers or artists or dancers or actors that they can be slips right by my brain pan most days, especially when we end up talking about their cats or dogs or boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses and children.

In honor of poetry month, I’d like to share a couple of poems by one of my friends, Angela Consolo Mankiewicz. This poem was published by RadiusLit.org December 2012:

“The Machine Stops”

By Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

It may be our only hope:
shoot down the satellites, dynamite
the grids, melt the cell towers ….

Let whole populations die out
leaving just enough to burn
or bury the dead and dot
large isolate masses of land;

and light, let there be no light
other than the sun to read by
and read only what is at hand
and what is at hand is only Euripides,
Dante, maybe Dickinson,
Shakespeare, something Zen.

And something else — no priestesses, no priests;
maybe a Keeper to distribute refinements
to inhale, drink, bite into and swallow
to keep us from agitating over more /
better / different / other / mine
something to help us believe life is / can be /
will be good, something to help ease
a beloved’s death, something to ease our own
something to dissolve the depression of being
however temporary the sensation.

We are savage creatures, like most,
and as improbable, in need of taming —
quickly — before the 2am last-call is proclaimed
by a rattle in the species’ throat.

We did it once, brutes to less-brutes,
less brutes to gentlemen and women
despite remaining “all the same
under this fancy linen”

We can do it again: re-generate generosity,
charity, mercy, kindness the Greeks and Dante,
Shakespeare and Zen, maybe we can
confound the gods and do better this time
even build a better machine that self-destructs
at just the right time.

This poem, Beyond Loneliness, is from Full of Crow:

“Beyond Loneliness”

By Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

At the edge of the ocean,
perhaps the only ocean,
you wheeze recollection
and hope into your lungs.

You have been led here
to the edge of this ocean
by the smell of salt.

The water is warm over your toes,
warmer than expected;
perhaps that is a good sign.

You turn away,
lift your chest as best you can
and raising flimsy arms, wail
one more time, a long,
hollow cry that breaks no heart.

You count the usual number
of unclocked minutes, then smile
at the familiar blank reply
freeing you to proceed.

It has been a very long time
since you had access to books
to tell you what to hold to,
what to love, what to hate,
what to respect and what to despise*
but you are no longer lost and confused.

You kneel, dig your fingers
into the sand around you
for a sting, a snap, a hop perhaps
but there is none.

Like a child, you lean on your hands
and pull yourself upright, like a child,
unburdened by shame, you turn back
to face your ocean; you are
what the world was known as; you,
it has all come down to you.

*From the last page of Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground

Angela Consolo Mankiewicz, originally from Brooklyn, now lives in Los Angeles and is the author of four chapbooks, the newest being An Eye, from Pecan Grove Press and As If, from Little Red Books-Lummox. She has also been the Contributing Editor and Regional Editor, respectively, for the small press (now defunct) journals Mushroom Dreams and New Press Quarterly. The title of this poem refers to a 1928 short story by E.M. Forster.

You can read more of her poetry on Rusty Truck here and you can follow her blog here.