(Editors Note: This is a re-post of the diary I posted last Labor Day. Reading it over it still all applies. Happy Labor Day)
Today is Labor Day. Hopefully you will be taking some time off and either are reading this after taking a break from yard work or better on Tuesday. Labor Day has always had a special place in my life. I am the Grandson and Nephew and Cousin of several life long UAW workers. Growing up in Michigan this is not an uncommon experience, but living here in the West, I find it stunning how people view unions and the Labor movement in general. Today I would like to take a little time and give a bit of tribute to the Union members in my family.
Grandpa Mike was a lot of things; he was an Irish immigrant, he was an alcoholic, he was the father of 13 children, Mom being the oldest. He worked in the Ford factories most of his adult life. He was a line worker when the work on the line was much harder, more physical and dirtier than it is today. He was a member of the UAW because he understood the power of the worker could only be exercised when it was exercised collectively. Being an UAW member meant he could have a chance to give his huge family a shot at a better life. I won’t sugar coat it, having 13 kids meant there was not a lot to go around in his family, but without bargaining power of the Union, it would have been far, far less. Grandpa Mike died 24 years ago. To this day the pension the Union negotiated for him helps to support Herself (that’s what we call the Matriarch of our sprawling Irish family). He gave a life of work to Ford Motor Company and for it his wife was taken care of when he died.