In further praise of unions.

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

My favorite diary since the election, This Miracle Brought To You by American Unions, written by Empywheel, illustrated beautifully how “the gain” of unions is so much greater than “the cost”.

My story, and this diary, is smaller in scope because its more personal and is about what unions really mean to those of us lucky, no BLESSED, enough to be in them.

I’m typing these very words from the hospital room of my daughter whose urinary tract infection went nuclear on us, its viral mushroom cloud enveloping Josephine’s kidney; my six year-old being transformed from a goofy, toothy wonder into a terrified mass of tears and wails.

“I want to die.”

3 doctors visits, turned into an E.R. trip, which became a hospital stay that will last AT LEAST 2 days.

Now, I’m not telling anyone anything they know when I say that when your child gets sick the first 10,000 thoughts are about making that kid better, the COST never really coming to mind until AFTER the all-clear has sounded, but I’ve been spared even most of the latent worry, because I have great health insurance and I have great health insurance because I’m in a union and my union only exists because those writers who worked BEFORE there was a guild fought and struck and gave up SO MUCH (specifically, handing over the copyright to their work) in order to get those who produce media to even allow for us to organize.

This is especially resonant to me because exactly a year ago I was walking a picket line… for a 100 days… in a strike that was painful to our entire industry and was about an issue (profit sharing in new-media) that will, in the future, be as important to our bottom line as health insurance is to our present well being.

And during those 100 days, what kept me walking, and us from fragmenting (for ONCE), was singular moments like me at pharmacy counter, a bottle of antibiotics in my hand.

“That will be $278… wait… and then there’s your insurance… OK its $15.”

“Really… $15?”

“That’s right. $15.”

Nothing is EVER given to the American worker without collective bargaining and that truth has never been more evident to me… the palpable truth of 278 and of 15… then as I sit, an IV drip in my daughter’s arm, a well-trained and, thankfully, UNION Nurse pulling a vial of blood from the crook of her elbow.


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  1. …have almost NOTHING in common.

    • Alma on January 26, 2009 at 06:29

    Here’s hoping Josephine gets better quickly.  Nothing tougher on a parent than a sick child.

    Got to agree with you on unions.  If it wasn’t for our union there’s no way we would have survived the last three years since my hubby became ill and couldn’t work.  He had to retire and got turned down the first time on social security disability.  It took us 3 years to get it and the only thing we had coming in was the union pension, and thank goodness we had our good family insurance through them cause we sure did have a lot of medical trips during that time.  

    Then there were the times work was bad, and it sure helped having sub pay along with unemployment.  The unions been nothing but good to us.

  2. And all of my best wishes to you and Josephine!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. “Why not me instead of her?”  I think most parents would much rather have the illness than for a child of theirs to be ill.  It’s so awful seeing your child and feeling some sense of helplessness to be of help.  I hope Josephine recovers quickly — children are amazingly resilient!

    I’m glad you didn’t have the added worry of too little or no insurance.  I must agree with you on those who have Unions are pretty fortunate in so many ways.

    My story was the other side of the coin, as have been many such stories — no Union — no job — no insurance.  

    Thanks for sharing, Jeffrey.  

  4. Hang in there.

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