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I'm a card carrying member of a union. It's the 3rd I've been a member of now. I've provided strike support to 2 others.

I am the product of Finnish Trade Unionism. The union is how my family found employment when they first arrived in Upstate New York. My Great Grandfather, Albert (no, that wasn't his name, but he assimilated) arrived by 1917, Having been drafted into the US Army in 1918. Those papers helped him to bring my great grandmother and the kids over.

My great grandmother was pregnant at the time that my great grandfather left for the US, my grandfather was the last born in Finland. Two more girls would follow once the family was in the states and all settled here sometime before the 1930 Census.

So, what's with the family history? Follow me below the orange squiggle...

I had the sheer pleasure of being educated this weekend by none other than the fabulous George Will on the error of my ways. See, George let me know that my family history of working with neighbors and family to get fair wages was really opposed to freedom and liberty. Really, he said it on Sunday when he talked about the ballot box loss of the collective bargaining amendment to the Michigan constitution and how unions had it coming to them...

Republicans decided to build upon that outcome by striking a blow for individual liberty...
Liberty, yeah!! That's what my great grandparents left Finland to find here. Then my great grandfather was drafted into an Army, served in Europe and barely spoke English. Yep, Finnish spoken at home. I'm sure he spoke Swedish, most Finns do, but I digress. Back to Georgie...
The unions’ frenzy against this freedom is as understandable as their desire to abolish the right of secret ballots in unionization elections: Freedom is not the unions’ friend
Freedom. hmm. I wonder how those unions are F%^KINg over Finland now, you know with that un-free way of thinking about things. Hmm, I wonder if there was a way to know...
(8) Building upon the expertise of local players, whose experience, opinions and abilities allowed them to indicate the best ways forward. The teacher unions and the educators themselves have always had the opportunity to be heard, to help crafting a blueprint of the reforms.

The key to get their commitment and support was tapping into and welcoming their expertise as professionals in laying the groundwork of reform. Expert committees of teachers, union representatives, university researchers, textbook authors and government officials designed the new frameworks, hashing out their differences and using each other’s valuable and varied expertise.

Another key was reassuring teachers would not lose employment security and salaries. Before the reforms even commenced the teacher trade organization achieved this in negotiating higher teacher compensation for the extra more demanding work.

Okay, so, public employees like teachers seem to think that the workers and the unions add to the table and apparently, in schools, they add to the quality of instruction.  Yeah, but, you really should read up on what's different about Finnish Schools.

But then again, Finland is a highly unionized country. Did you know that nearly 3/4th of Finns are dues paying members of a union? Some are also retired union members. Finns clearly hate freedom and liberty, because that's what George thinks, so it must be true. Right?

I learned long ago that I was part of something bigger. I think this is what people like Snyder, Scalia, Will, Bush, Walker, etc... miss. When I pay my dues, I know what it pays for, it provides me a whole host of services. Some folks don't seem to know that. I contribute first to my local, then some goes to the national. The part that goes to my local pays for actions necessary to help my brothers and sisters in the local. It gives me a voice at work. My union has come to my rescue and it's helped to empower me to be a better web developer. I prefer a per pay due instead of having to mail a check to my local. Cutting off dues cuts the ability of locals to provide needed services to members.

I grew up union. It's in my blood, almost literally with that whole family heritage thing. So, when I see crap about "Liberty" and "Freedom" being the reasons that states pass laws in an attempt to kill collective bargaining and unions, I know what it's really about. It's about liberty and freedom to pay what ever you feel like. It's about liberty and freedom to fire a worker who won't go into an unsafe hole.

George, I'm an American. I have a right to organize with my coworkers. That's one of those liberty and freedom things. I'm free to work with my coworkers to unionize and thereby be paid a fair wage. Liberty is something we've fought for and died for, and around the world, the work continues.

For fun and frivolity, please enjoy the lyrics of the Internationale (I wonder if George has ever pictured the images these words refer to?):

Stand up, all victims of oppression
For the tyrants fear your might
Don't cling so hard to your possessions
For you have nothing, if you have no rights
Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all

So come brothers and sisters
For the struggle carries on
The internationale
Unites the world in song
So comrades come rally
For this is the time and place
The international ideal
Unites the human race

Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We'll live together or we'll die alone
In our world poisoned by exploitation
Those who have taken, now they must give
And end the vanity of nations
We've but one earth on which to live

And so begins the final drama
In the streets and in the fields
We stand unbowed before their armour
We defy their guns and shields
When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by like and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above

Words: billy bragg music: pierre degeyter

And, finally, Billy Bragg, Happy Birthday dude!!

(wish I could embed this, but can't right now) It's an excellent Billy Bragg video for Between the Wars..Mine is the Peace We Knew Between the Wars, it's like he's talking about my family, makes me cry every time.

Originally posted to Bendygirl on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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