Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Rainy Labor Day and what a nice break from the heat. Years ago, before I became a teacher/ writer, I generally used to celebrate Labor Day by laboring.

A Labor anecdote about "the Workers". A bit over ten years ago I was working in downtown Warsaw, near the Polish parliament building. I was going out with a girl who worked at Solidarnosc just around the corner from my workplace and used to go by quite often. And quite often they'd find something for me to do, usually involving helping translate an English document into Polish or vice versa.

Solidarnosc at that time was suffering an identity crisis. The Revolution was over and they didn't really know if they were going to be a political party or a trade union, and they were trying to be both - badly.

So, at one time they hired a work crew to renovate the offices and, among other things, replace all the window casements. The regime had changed, but unfortunately communist-era work habits hadn't caught up. The laborers worked when they felt like it, drank on the job and sometimes just parked themselves in front of the new big screen TV and watched. At one point they knocked out a window casement, together with a substantial portion of the brick wall around it.

Solidarnosc was in crisis. As a labor union they really weren't supposed to do that, but finally they screwed up their indignation and said, "Get to work or you're fired!" - and it about killed them. The workers basically shrugged it off and said, "So who will you get?"

I've been a member of a couple of unions in my time, and participated in a couple of strike actions. I'd like to bask in the romanticism of the heroic labor struggle, but...


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