Loving the Job, Not the Strike  

Years and years ago, I was a kid (no jokes, please) and my dad went on strike. There had been rumors that the shop was going to close down and move to one of the Carolinas, but nothing was more than just a whisper in the wind.

I remember that year. Dad served as the secretary of his United Steelworkers of America local. Mom worked as a waitress while dad held down two tool and die maker jobs. I remember that it was crisp and smelled like rain.

I also remember the day the shop closed.

When I read comments from the American Axle workers, it brings back a lot of memories for me. You see, Dad's a tool and die maker, just like many of the strikers.

It's precision work. It's often hot, smelly work. OSHA sets standards on how hot or how many hours men (mostly men) can work the presses or hammers or other equipment. It's meant to keep the workers safe. When you're in a non-union shop, you don't say much when it's too hot; you keep working because you're thankful that you even have a fucking job. I know men who've lost fingers, had toes stitched onto their hands to make up for the loss of a thumb. This is very precise work and if you aren't vigilant, stuff can happen and does happen.

I feel almost like I know Jerd0708 through his posts and the couple of e-mails I've gotten. He reminds me a lot of my dad.

March 15th, Day 18 in the strike
Well walked this morning. Its nice going down and seeing some of the guys. Hit some more websites looking to maybe relocate. Alabama and Texas are looking good right now. I know I have to go back to school but after 14 years I have no Idea where to start. I have a lot of experience with machine tool and working with controls of different types. I am not going to post my resume but I am a highly qualified and motivated person. The only thing I am lacking is some sort of piece of paper that says so. Man I know I could make some company really lucky I just need to get in the door somehow. My boss has said he would give up all 9 of the guys in our group for just 2 of me. I love what I do and I really do not want to change fields but if I have to I guess I will. I really enjoy machining and all the challenges that go along with it. Robots are a ball to work with too. Really nothing new as far as news except for the big "Truckgate" down at the forge. They really made us look bad on the TV.

They say there are a few stages of grief,

# Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
# Anger (why is this happening to me?)
# Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
# Depression (I don't care anymore)
# Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

I am through the Denial stage and have moved right through the anger and am now in the bargaining stage. Only thing is I have no one to bargain with. Some one else is doing it for me. There are a lot of people that are already at the depression Stage down there walking. But most are going to be stuck at the anger Stage for awhile. Well until next time my kids are trying that flying off the couch thing again.

Even after all of these years, my dad loves what he does. I mean, he really loves it. He works 6 day weeks, 60 hour work weeks and he never gets sick. He doesn't take time off except for his vacation, 3 weeks a year. He likes the math involved with his job, the very precise math that he often has to do all day long to recalibrate machines. And when he's not at work, he's thinking about what machine isn't working to peak performance.

He's also been looking into bio-fuels for the shop. He's thinking of it in terms of costs as well as a PR thing to do. His shop is small, he's not paid near what he can do, but he has an affinity for it. I often wonder what would have been back in the 80's if the shop hadn't closed. I wonder what would have happened if the part time job hadn't needed to become full time employment. I wonder if at nearly 65 my dad would still need to be putting in 60 hour work weeks.

So, when I read the comments that Jerd0708 makes, I know where he's coming from.

March 11th, First Blog
I love working for American Axle I started there right after my 19th birthday. It makes me sad to think I may never work there again.

I don't have any words of wisdom for him or his family.

March 24th, Day 27 in the Strike
People from the unions around America are starting to try and make us out to be martyrs , sheep going to slaughter for the greater good of the middle class. I for one am not looking to be any ones Joan of Arc. I just want to get my family back on track. If anyone thinks that any one of those guys are out there for anyone but themselves they are really stoned. We are approaching a month out. I am usually pretty good at seeing where a situation is going but with this one I really have no idea. It really could be one more hour or one more year.

Until Next Time

I just want to give him a voice. I know that what they're doing is tough and the decision that they made to strike was even tougher.

Please, do something to help end this strike.


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