Monday, April 17, 2006

No heroes, no bosses.

One thing that the media traditionally gets wrong about the labor movement is that there's two types of personalities they focus on--one is the hero. Cesar Chavez falls into this category. The second is the union 'boss'. Think Jimmy Hoffa.

But the thing is that for staff representatives who take this very seriously, you know that you're not the one making it happen--your members are. This is crucially important to understand. I help prepare, help organize, help facilitate, help strategize, explain options and other things like that.

But I cannot cause people to care about anything, nor motivate them to fight for something that they're not already willing to fight for. The 'iron rule' of organizing is that you should never, never, never do for others what they should be doing for themselves. I try that out on Mrs. Drinallmyyears, but she doesn't seem to believe it's such an iron rule. More like an iron guideline.

At any rate, in that spirit I bring you this story of Hiram Ruiz, a staff rep with SEIU 11 who has been leading the fight with Unnico, a custodial contractor with the University of Miami. You remember that story, right? Well the Herald piece nails it quite nicely.

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