On Strike

My dad worked for General Electric. This was considered a very good job and, basically it was. Dad was also a union steward. He was a very loyal union member. He believed that without the union to protect the workers, GE might not be such a great employer.

Several times in the 50’s and early 60’s the workers at GE went out on strike. While Dad was on strike he did not get paid. He had no savings. There were ten of us. These were pretty grim times. At the grocery store Dad would buy the dented cans or the cans with no labels. We had mystery meals. We learned to make our own potato chips. We froze corn and Mom canned tomato sauce. People gave us clothes. Dad had a series of horrible cars which required hours of attention to serve as the most basic of transportation.

But he had a job to go back to. Eventually the strike would end. Insurance policies may have been cashed in, loans taken out, funds given as charity by the union. The house remained ours. I am not sure how but Dad always kept the house. So I can understand the depression and the fear that is felt by the long term unemployed. Perhaps they use up their savings first. They load up their credit cards. They can’t borrow because they have no jobs. They cash in bonds, they cash in 401K’s, they cash in their insurance policies, they lose their houses, they eat less. They may even have to move in with their families if possible. It’s bad enough losing a job when there are jobs, but to lose a job when jobs are scarce must fill you with a terrible dread. How far down the “ladder” will you, or even worse, you and your children, go.? Where will you end up? What will your life be like? Not everyone is out of work. You become part of this “underclass” of unlucky people who have lost their jobs. Your self-image suffers which makes it harder and harder to get a job. If there are any jobs.

This sounds like an old circular refrain from my teen years?

“What’s Life?”

“A magazine.”

“How much does it cost?”

“It costs 20 cents.”

“But I only have a nickel.”

“That’s Life.”

“What’s Life?”

Please settle your issues soon, Washington. Get a plan, because, we need jobs.

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