I was going to post this on facebook; however, the more I thought about it, I felt that this would be a more appropriate forum...one reason a lot of my relatives did not know what my parents were going through in the eighties, two, my older brother and sister have no idea of what happened as they had long been out of the house...and I am sure they have a different view of the events that happened.
More Below The Fold...
I work in a non-union job, however, I am passionate about organized labor causes as I know that all of the benefits I have today are due to someone before me fighting for those rights. Which is why I am so passionate about what is happening to the unionized Public Employees of what used to be the Great State of Wisconsin. My family went through what the public employees are currently going through now when I was a teenager, I lived through an employer breaking the union my father was in.
In 1983 my father worked for Dane County Dairy at the time it was a union shop. The drivers all were members of Teamsters Local 695. My Dad worked for the dairy for close to thirty years at that point of his life. If you went to school in Madison, Wisconsin during the seventies and early eighties you may have seen my Dad everyday. During the school year he delivered milk to every school in the Madison Metropolitan School District as well as every parochial school in town. It was hard work and it was hard on my father's health.
When I was a Sophomore in high school my Dad arrived at work to find that his wages had been cut from $12.00 an hour (a pretty good sum back then) to $8.00 an hour. His vacation time was cut from five weeks to two weeks. The men who worked at the dairy were told if they went on strike they would lose their jobs. His boss, Duane Bowman Jr was emboldened by President Reagan firing all of the Air Traffic Controllers two years earlier. Shortly thereafter my Dad had a heart attack. While in a hospital bed recovering he received a registered letter from his boss stating that he had to come back to work tomorrow or lose his job. The union stepped in and prevented my Dad's employer from doing anything over my Dad's illness.
Mr. Bowman refused to negotiate with the Teamsters, so the Teamsters notified the National Labor Relations Board and the Teamsters and the NLRB sued Dane County Dairy and Duane Bowman Jr. for breach of contract and violation of labor laws. In the meantime my Dad was out of work non-union workers were doing his job. Due to the lawsuit my Dad could not drive truck for anyone...he had to find another job.
My Dad took odd jobs at one time or the other, one of them, was with Pinkerton security, which was ironic knowing Pinkerton's history with the labor movement. My Dad worked security at South Towne Mall during the day and worked security at the zoo at night. The security job was barely enough to make ends meet. I did not know it at the time, but my parents were in pretty desperate financial straights.
The costs of union busting are high. I saw my Dad, a very proud man reduced to self doubt and drowning himself in alcohol. Whatever money that there was for me to go to college was gone...I had no choice but to join the Army. Eventually the NLRB and Teamsters were victorious and my Dad did receive a decent settlement. However, I often wonder how different my life and my family's life would have been.
As a Postscript, my Dad did eventually win his battle with alcohol and had ten pretty good years of retirement.
Wow...Rec list...I go to bed with three or four comments and wake up to this. Awesome!