If you know me at all, you know that I am passionate about unions. I wish there was a bored god of unionized labor forces -- I would make that deity dinner every night of the week, and pie on weekends! What this world really needs is a God or Goddess of Collective Bargaining.
It has been 10 years since I marched in the Philadelphia Labor Day Parade. I wasn't even sure they had it anymore. I kept Googling it, and I never saw any plans for this year. Then last week, about mid-week, I got an email from the AFL-CIO, asking me to march in a parade near me! Well, gee whiz. You don't even have to ask! Let me lace up my sneakers!
I sent my RSVP to Philadelphia and showed up this morning at the Sheet Metal Workers hall on Columbus Boulevard, wearing a gray "NJEA Proud" t-shirt I got last spring. Of course I was the only member of NJEA at the march, but there was a nice contingent of Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, so I marched with them.
It's 94 degrees outside today.
Remember when the Orange Menace got elected, and we had that great big Women's March on Washington? I went to that. It's just my personal emotional need to be gathered with like-minded individuals in large numbers. And that is why I braved incredibly hot conditions to be with Philadelphia's union membership.
The Philadelphia Labor Day parade is a moving spectacle. Each local has its membership decked out in matching t-shirts in vivid hues, with pro-labor slogans on front and back. It's easy to find your group, even thought there's more than a thousand people there. The unions march off with their banners ... and it's a long walk, about two miles, to Penn's Landing.
Before the march begins, a bunch of politicians give speeches about the importance of organized labor. This year we had Pennsylvania's governor, Philadelphia's mayor, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a brace of Congressmen, and some organizers reporting on progress toward unionizing the big Marriott that's opening in Center City. Everyone was Union Proud, Union Strong! The governor said he would veto any anti-union legislation that reached his desk. (What was he going to say to a throng of union members in Philly? But I believe him.)
Here's a new theme, found on banners and t-shirts alike:
Considering that the Heir has two jobs and the Fair has three, I would say this sums up how to make America great again.
I didn't take many photos, since I didn't know anyone. But I did like the hopeful message on this t-shirt:
If there was any sentiment among organized labor that the Orange Menace was out to help unions, that has evaporated like a puddle on a hot summer afternoon. The Menace was roundly booed, and the odious Janus decision by the Supreme Court was not only booed, it was mocked on many a t-shirt.
I do know that organized labor is the dinosaur, and the ownership class is the asteroid. But it's nice to think, just for one hot, end-of-the-summer day brought to you, like the weekend, by organized labor, that there might be a place for collective bargaining still in this country. Pipe dream, yes. But let me sleep just a few more hours.
United we bargain, divided we beg.