Thursday, January 22, 2009

One nation united

There is a habit I practice in the Teamsters union whenever I hear the word "unity." If it comes from the people I work with, I grant it a positive spin, because it has no real utility for us except in confrontation with management. If a manager decides on a stupid rule which makes the operation less safe, less efficient, or both, the best kind of response is collective; what individual workers lack in authority, they make up for in numbers.

However, whenever I hear the word "unity" coming from the mouth of union "leadership," I take it with a substantial grain of salt: 9 times out of 10, it is little more than a call for obedience. Because Teamster members are largely excluded from the national decisions that affect them, to be "united" around Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.'s agenda means that he makes up an agenda, and we follow it -- period. In other words, the union hierarchy appropriates the normally positive concept of "unity" for its own purposes, deploying the term in a way that is very different from the association lent to it by average members, in order to manipulate them.

Well, holy bjeezus: If the same phenomenon wasn't in highest-gear over the past several days at the federal level.

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