Saturday, March 11, 2006

The last one today, I swear to God.

I was at this thing Thursday and Friday, and I met some interesting people.

Members of the Boilermakers Local 484 from Meredosia, IL have been locked out of their place of employment by Celanese Corp., after the employer asked for 33% in wage cuts and the union asked for more time and information.

Members from Local 484 were at the IEA RA (hosted by us at a table with Jobs with Justice) to tell their story to individual members of my union, who are mostly teachers but also school support staff and college facutly.

The guys I met reminded me of nearly every one of the blue-collar workers I grew up with in North Carolina. They were polite, kind of rednecks, but (unlike the folks from my childhood) fiercely determined to win this thing with their employer. So far, only five of the union members have crossed the picket line to go back to work. One of them was a cousin of one of the guys at the RA.

I said that probably was going to make for an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner. He agreed.

A dear friend of mine from Urbana was trying to hook them up with Lisa Madigan, who is the Attorney General of Illinois. It seems the local Sheriff is harassing the strikers with his squad cars.

This is one in a long line of tragedies that represent the destruction of working class life. But it was a pleasure to meet those guys.

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