Monday, September 06, 2010

An extra Saturday

kw: musings, work

Labor Day has come, and nearly gone. Other than re-seeding the lawn, I did little this weekend.

The day has great significance for a few, and is just an extra day off for most. When I was very young, there were Labor Day parades and parties in the park. By the time I was working for a living (late 1960s), organized labor had gone too far and was becoming unpopular, even viewed with horror, by those who weren't union members already, and by many in the unions: union membership dropped by half in a decade. Unions had such a bad name, and often deservedly so, that I quit more than one job just prior to the "you gotta join or leave" date (I didn't live in a "right to work" state).

Now union membership has dropped by half again, but is on the rise, a little. The disastrous policies of the "Stimulus package" are making jobs at anything close to a living wage so scarce that joining a union is often the only way to find work. Working "on call" part time at $18/hr is usually better than full time at minimum wage, particularly when the unemployment "insurance" runs out (It hasn't been run as an insurance program for about a generation now). Fortunately, many unions have cleaned up their act, so the pendulum will continue to sway in their favor for a while, maybe a decade or so, if they remember why they were humbled.

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