Thursday, 9 July 2015

I'm That Picketer

I know we don't make it easy.

We take up the sidewalk, we block cars, we're loud and entitled and spoiled and lazy and ungrateful.  We've been on strike for seven weeks and there is no sign of it stopping.  The public doesn't seem to care, unions seem antiquated.  It's tough all over - I get that.  I know I'm lucky to have a job.  I know there's lots of people who would be more than happy to take my job and agree to whatever terms necessary.  I know we can seem unreasonable.  And I know it's easy to lump us all together.

But instead of focusing on those picketers that are in your face, the ones who are watching the clock to make sure that the vehicles are stopped for a full 10 minutes, the ones who encourage everyone to talk to the public and heckle the mayor and think that we need to be bigger, louder, more visible, try focusing on the other kind of picketer.

There is a different kind of picketer.  The kind who shows up for their shift when they have to.  Maybe they spend the shift talking to a coworker, or maybe just walking back and forth with earbuds firmly planted in their ears.  They're there yes, because they believe in the cause and want to preserve their job, but also because they can't afford not to be there.  There's the kind who doesn't have a second income in the household upon which they can rely.  The kind who go home after picketing and start working at a part time job or freelance work, often until 11:00 or 12:00 at night just to make sure those ends keep meeting.  The kind who feel like they can't win for losing.  They're caught between a rock and a hard place.  Sure, it's easy to say "Go back to work" and tell someone to cross the picket line, but when the city is promising you'll be safe and the union is threatening that they will make sure scabs will be tried and punished, it doesn't seem to leave much of an option.  There are picketers who don't necessarily agree with the union.  Who are out there because they don't feel that they have a choice, or a voice anymore.  There are picketers who are fed up with the lack of information and walk their four hours thinking about the work that is piling up on their desk.  There are picketers who don't like to stop vehicles, who will turn and walk the other way to avoid doing so.  The picketers who will politely wave when a vehicle honks, and just keep walking when someone feels the need to scream at them out of the window of a car.  The picketer who just wants things to be over.

I'm that picketer.


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