Friday, March 18, 2011

We will throw our baseballs in your lawn

Above is a picture of old-timey strikers at a steel mill beating up a scab. Images like the above, along with stories of Union members battling owner controlled police forces and teamsters with lead pipes wrapped in newspapers to serve as concealed clubs are part of the iconography of the labor movement. In their imagination they are still staging those street battles and factory strikes, with justice on their side and steel in their hearts.

But that was then, and this is now. When the Union folk gather now they sing old Woodie Guthrie songs about the cruel boss man, coal mine disasters and the injustice of the looms of Pennsylvania, but they also sing of more modern things; such as this outrage covered by the song All Saturdays Included or is it Advance Solutions Inc./SBC by David G. Hurlburt:
They go to the window and their Parents aren't there,
Another Saturday working, ASI it just isn't FAIR.
We agreed to rotate Saturdays not work every one,
Give us back our Saturdays we all need some fun.
There in lies a problem for modern Unionistas. They have an institutional memory of the good fight fought long ago, but those old battle fields have faded away and in their place are early retirement, free pensions and Saturdays off to watch the kids play soccer. 

In fact today's Union/non-Union worker conflicts will not be a scab being beaten like in the picture above, but rather teachers bickering in school break rooms in Wisconsin as some stop paying union dues and other continue to write checks. There is no muscle left in the unions and the argument can be made that their forced dues and closed shops are among the most onerous workplace injustices of today.

Which brings us to Jim Shankman (the title of this post is from his unhinged rant against Ann Althouse) and all the other threats in Wisconsin and elsewhere. 

Lacking bodies to man the picket lines, much less intimidate their foes in the time honored Union way, Trumka and the other union bosses have called for a coalition of the Unions and progressives of every stripe. That's why you see so many students, student hangers-on and geriatric hippies in videos of the protests. The call for a general strike went no where, and this is the only army they can raise. 

The danger in all of this for the Unions is that they cede their strategy and tactics to these other groups. Striking teachers can be portrayed sympathetically, but Jim Shankman and his deranged threat to toss baseballs onto Althouse's lawn so he can trespass to retrieve them is just juvenile lunacy of the first order. Crazed death threats, broken windows, nails on drive ways and Public Hearings disrupted are just more of the same lunacy.

I think that in the end that will be a problem for the Unions. They won't control their own portrayal. Instead, and regardless of the media's efforts to cover for them, loons like Jim Shankman will yell loud enough to seem to be the messengers. 

ADDED: the Gormogons have a post Delusional Union Leaders about Trumla's absurd attempt to link the current Union uproar with the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination. More lunacy on display and further evidence that the labor movement seems hellbent on trivializing itself these days. 

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