Thursday, March 09, 2006

Watching bridges burn in the rear-view mirror...

The union I belonged to until December - well I still consider myself a satellite member - lockout, pickets, wrongful termination, negotiated settlement, it was a whole thing - anyway, it appears to be erupting into bloody open revolt and exile at it's annual convention this week.

I was a delegate, if I was still an employee of the company involved I'd be in a big hotel on the coast today, doubtless completely caught up in the heightened atmosphere of loathing and blood-shed. Living off righteous fury, coffee and stomach acid all day and drinking myself into unconsciousness most nights. Conventions are fun.

We lost the labor dispute, the union executive with the apparent collusion of an executive from another union often discussed for a possible merger/takeover of our union (hint: he was just kicked out of his political party for turning around and supporting another one) bent over for a company proposal that didn't even offer a reach-around and people feel betrayed and lied to.

So the first act of convention was a special emergency convention that declared no confidence in the executive and fired them all. A new president, an outsider even before he left the executive in protest has returned from his sojourn in the wilderness and been named new president by acclamation and the former president and elements of the former executive and their hangers on are suing to be re-instated.

It's another whole thing.

I'm getting this all, by the way from the news and a few e-mail lists I still belong to. Plus, I'm sleeping with a union member.

Part of me is really glad to be out of it - in the past year I fought an election as a socialist candidate in the most right-wing city in Canada and walked a picket line for months while my co-workers crossed the line. It's been a bit like swimming upstream at Niagara Falls.

But some insanely optimistic bloody minded whackamole part of me wants to leap right back into the fray.

"Maybe it's a good time for Cerebus to find a course and stick to it. Maybe it's time for Cerebus to take stock of himself, set a few long-range and short-range goals. Cerebus thinks about that quite a bit lately."

"So why haven't you done it?"

"Because Cerebus also thinks this is a good time to get drunk every day and look for comfortable gutters to lie in."

-High Society, Dave Sim

I'm gonna get re-engaged with the world again, promise. I've earned some apathy time.

What's happening at this convention illustrates a larger trend of union leadership being less radical than the membership and less in tune with it as well. Organized labor is in disarray and needs a full re-boot and recreation to become relevant. A big employment crunch has already started as the boomers begin to rev up the mass retirement that will blow huge holes in the job market. There's enormous opportunity for unions and the membership seems ahead of the executive class on the future's potentials and threats.

More frustratingly vague updates to come.

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