Thursday, April 13, 2006

Where Have All the Pickets Gone?

I saw something yesterday that shocked me.

A picket line.

There were a bunch of Carpenters picketing in front of a Subway being built on Lomas here in downtown Albuquerque.

I'm not sure what the reasons for the picket are. But it sure felt good to see one.

And it made me sad to wonder why I don't see pickets very often at all anymore. When was the last time you saw a picketline?

I remember a bitter 2 year struggle at a door factory in Springfield, Oregon, where I grew up, that resulted in the plant shutting down. In those years, I really didn't understand what was going on. But I wish you saw that kind of worker militancy these days. Given the way that workers are treated today, how they are losing their health insurance, how their jobs are disappearing, how union laws dating back to the New Deal are being constantly undermined, how the National Labor Relations Board is dominated by anti-worker business interests, how there is no living wage in most of the nation, and how working-class people are getting screwed over generally, I am surprised that we haven't seen the rise of a more militant labor movement over the past 10 years. Yeah, sure, SEIU and other unions are putting more emphasis on organizing and that's a good thing. But really, even with these unions, how often do you see them around? What kind of a presence do unions have on our everyday lives these days? And it's sad.

So I don't know what those Carpenters were picketing over. But I wish them luck and I hope the people of Albuquerque see them and take heart that they too can make real changes through collective power.