As you have most likely heard, the Chicago public school teachers are on strike.
You never realize how many schools there are, until they are surrounded by picketing teachers. It seems like everywhere we go there are teachers all over the place. I’m no stranger to strikes, but usually they are in one particular location, not everywhere you look. Even if there are just a few people at each location, it makes the strike seem absolutely huge.
Is it weird to say that seeing all the striking workers makes me feel nostalgic?
My dad is, was, and always will be a union man. He is uniformly and unquestioningly for any union that is striking. If he lived in Chicago, I have no doubt he’d join the picket line. I remember once when the union projectionists were striking, my dad would not set foot in the movie theater. He would drop us off and pick us up, but he would be caught dead before he would cross a picket line to see a movie. You’d be surprised at how often the topic of strikes could come up to a kid, but with my dad, the idea of it was always there, running just beneath the surface. Some kids went to summer camp; I went to union camp. They sang kumbaya, we sang “Solidarity Forever”.
I’m not like my dad; I don’t automatically accept that unions are always right and companies are always evil entities ready to gouge the worker if only given half a chance (coincidentally, a lot of them happen to be evil entities ready to gouge the worker if given half a chance, but I’m eternally optimistic). Unfortunately, I think the truth is more complicated: both sides are right, and also wrong. People deserve to be treated with respect at work. On the other hand, you can’t always squeeze blood from a stone. Both sides are stubborn. Both sides are a little bit unreasonable.
Right or wrong, there’s something comforting in seeing arms linked in solidarity for a common cause, whatever that cause is.
Or maybe that’s just my dad talking.