Michael Morse: The All-American, Union Family
[The following first appeared on Anchor Rising as a comment to this post.]
I grew up in a union household. My father belonged to the IBEW until he was promoted and took a job in management, taking with him the morality and ethics of his union membership. I remember my uncle, Bill, proudly wearing his Teamsters cap. Uncle Ron was a Warwick cop. Brian was president of his union at Rhode Island College. We would spend summer days at their homes, surrounded by family, the American flag always flying, either on a flagpole or attached to the house, the red, white, and blue flew proudly.
Modest homes meticulously kept, hard work, and an ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor and share them with friends and family was all they wanted. Uncle Bill was a WWII vet, my father a Navy signal man during the Korean War. Brian served in the Air Force during the Viet Nam War. They lived, and live, good, honest lives, are fiercely proud of their country, and fought for the freedoms we now enjoy. Union members. Not everybody in my family, but those I remember most.
My brother, Bob, just returned from Iraq. 500 days. Another union man. Myself, a firefighter in Providence. Union. We are living in the shadow of our uncles and father, and it is my belief we have made them proud.
Some of our union leaders have let us down, just as some of our elected officials have let us down. Politics is a cutthroat business, and like it or not, everything is political. Those that have risen to the top of our ranks thrive in that arena; most of us would rather do our jobs, do them well, and live our lives. We need people in positions of power for us to do that.
Relentless media attacks have insulated the union ranks. An us-against-them attitude prevails. Gone are the days when a union worked with management in a respectful, productive atmosphere. Maybe that never existed; I don’t know. “Gold Plated Benefits, Feeding at the Public Trough, Picking Our Pockets,” and on and on. “Socialists, communists, serving the weak, protecting the incompetent…,” enough already.
Maybe you grew up in a different world. Judging from some commentary here, you don’t have a clue about mine.
Michael Morse is a lieutenant with the Providence Fire Department and the author of Rescuing Providence.