Labor Day unity runs deeper than Unions

No more bets! Our Labor Day ’14 edition begins with this story from PGHBIZTIME:

Rivers Casino employees [picketed] in front of the casino’s front entrance [last] Thursday to demand an end to what they refer to as “slashed hours and benefits.”

Workers contend there have been deep reductions in the number of full-time positions in favor of part-time positions that do not qualify for health insurance. (Justine Coyne)

For a working parent or other person, it can be hard or tricky to gain reliable access to preventative, non-emergency and rehabilitative health care — in this economy and in the present health care system.

Unionization is one way workers have acquired such stabilities, affording them the leisure to raise, educate and invest in their children and communities.

But worker solidarity is much more instinctive than that.  

At a recent gathering of Fight Back Pittsburgh, some waitstaff at Rivers Casino described how they are already accomplishing change  through ad-hoc “delegations,” otherwise known as posses.

Now, whenever a perceived outrage occurs over scheduling, wages, conditions or side-duties, or if a manager reneges on a prior arrangement, an employee need not necessarily go in to see the bosses alone — they might return with a whole posse of their fellow workers.

This informal collective bargaining method has proven efficient, independent of the organizing drive towards UNITE-HERE Local 57. May all bosses prove so enlightened.

Those casino servers got me thinking about some of my old jobs. I felt a great deal of affinity for them all — but so many owners and managers grew prickly about their employees chatting with one another! Comparing pay scales, benefits, how things “used to be” and the state of affairs elsewhere in the industry, the sharing of which is simple human compassion. To my experience managers deem this kind of talk “inappropriate” and build doghouses for such. Sometimes, the highest-paid employees assent to the omertà, for fear of losing their blessings.

And to actually talk “union,” to link up with workers in different parts of the economy, invites turbulent flashbacks and overreactions.

Maybe that’s the fundamental meaning of Labor Day. Worker solidarity means sharing information and advice, backing up each others’ legitimate grievances, and celebrating each others’ struggles. That way leads to good things.

Meanwhile, Boss’s Day is around the corner. No parades scheduled.

MORE:  Moriah Balingit, P-G.

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