As you may be aware, I’m a union guy. My first job was working second shift (and later the midnight shift) in a tool and die plant, first on the fitters’ bench, where we used a long metal pole to pull pieces into the correct shape after they came out of the heat-treating furnace, then onto the punch press and, eventually, to running the drop hammer, all for $3.65 an hour, back in the mid-1970s. I was a member of the Machinists then, and, in subsequent job moves, joined the Grain Millers, and then the Newspaper Guild.
So I’ve been distressed for years that my union brothers and sisters, swayed by appeals from conservatives on guns, choice, gays, and, yes, even race, have ignored their economic interests to vote Republican. I grew up in that fold, as well, but went through something of a transformation about the same time I was breathing oil and propane fumes and losing my hearing in front of that drop hammer. You might say I had political consciousness pounded into me.
I would have thought the Reagan assault on organized labor, beginning with the destruction of PATCO, might have offered a lesson, but large pluralities of working men and women still pulled the elephant lever on election day, particularly in presidential years.
But the onslaught from Governors’ offices in several states following the 2010 elections may have served as a wake-up call, as the LA Times reports.
There’s still a long way to go, but this is encouraging.