Thursday, July 24, 2008

the afl-cio

In the kitchen drawer of Really Useful Things, I have one of those round rubber grippies that helps you get the lids off pickle jars and such. I mostly use it to remove the so-called twist-off caps you find on certain beer bottles and other glass-bottled beverages. This rubber grippie came courtesy of the glass, plastic and pottery workers local, here in Minneapolis; the good ol' AFL-CIO. And whenever I need my husband to hand me the thing, that's what I ask for: "Honey, could you get me the AFL-CIO please?" Because somehow, you really feel equipped when you take a whack at a stubborn jar lid using all the persuasive power of the AFL-CIO.

Sadly, the thing is looking pretty ratty these days. Jagged tears in the middle where those nasty beer-bottle caps hook their edges into the rubber. Stained, a little dirty, but still functional. It's not a thing you can patch. What will we do without it? When it finally bites the dust, how can the average rubber grippie ever compare? Perhaps it's a not-so-subtle metaphor for the faltering strength of labor unions across the country. Still I think an essential champion of the worker, but some unions are so bloated and corporate in their own thinking -- it's an exception when I hear a good story about a union contract or a mediated dispute. My husband's union mainly gives us cause to worry these days, wondering whose side they're on anyway. Their achievements in the realm of protections for the tenured profs are a thing of the past; they are way behind on protecting the rights of the adjuncts, who are just another class of freelancers given no benefits or assurances of any kind, keeping costs low.

Nevertheless, the glass, plastic and pottery workers local can forever boast the glory of the best rubber grippies in Nordeast.

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