(This was featured in Labor Press recently. Decided to share it with you in case you missed it.)
OUR job is to safely operate a bus in this district, and I am proud to be part of a century-old tradition here in Portland. It takes a gritty spirit and nerves of steel to persevere in this profession. Our livelihood depends upon presenting a united front. Otherwise, we are as vulnerable as summer’s fat and lazy housefly, slow to react and easily squashed.
We are often an unfocused and cantankerous group, prone to debating sometimes insignificant issues while neglecting the most vital. In order to achieve successful bargaining, it is important we aim toward a common goal. That is, to ensure fair compensation for this vital service we honorably provide our community.
What constitutes “fair compensation” is a hotly contested point. The District acts as if we’re overpaid and greedy. They inject this propaganda into a largely unsympathetic public mindset via local media. The last time, this tactic was successful for them. Most of those whose valuable support management hopes to secure however, have not endured hours in the seat. They haven’t been screamed at, spat upon, threatened at gunpoint, punched or stabbed. Their bodies have not been subjected to the repetitive motions which gradually wear us down. Numbers and innuendo are management’s game. Yet upper management isn’t as vital as we are in competent transit operations. We could still efficiently do the job without them; they could not do our duties and simultaneously manage themselves.
We negotiate from a collective strength earned by safely operating transit vehicles thousands of miles each month. Comparatively, humanity benefits from honey, yet rarely are bees given credit for their crucial role. Instead, industrial humanity destroys them to the brink of extinction. Upon the bees’ final exit, politicians will “study” what happened while we slowly starve in the absence of sufficient pollination. We are now being pushed toward the first stage of extinction. Remaining strong we can push back against this attack upon our livelihood while also improving the lot of retirees. If management is allowed to gradually pick our bones dry, someday only ash and dust will remain.
It is up to each union member to collectively form a united front. Elections are over. Our internal bitterness needs to stop. It is time to cleanse our collective palate, spit, and fight in unison. Let us leave politics behind and work together toward our common goal. There are many strong minds amongst us which could be valuable assets to the cause. We have lost much over the years, yet we still provide exceptional results from our labors. If we regain the public’s support, our chances to prevail improve considerably.
None of us expect to live in grand mansions, but we do deserve a decent living without fear of poverty in retirement. We can’t win if we’re collectively holding each other back. When we fight amongst ourselves, we become weaker and management gleefully rejoices.
In nature, the strong survive. Often, the weakest of the herd is executed by its own. We’re in danger of not only losing forward momentum, but also of being replaced by non-union outsiders.
Peace be among us, brothers and sisters. Together we are strong, divided we become a memory. Let our efforts become legendary and victory an enduring legacy.