Why I’m Pro-Union
I know it’s useless to pour my heart out. I know that one right to work bill has completely passed, the second is half passed and both are headed for the governor’s desk next week, where they will be signed (as I knew they would be, even before he promised such). Michigan is headed down a nasty, icy slope and only ten Republicans give a flying fuck. But since the Republicans hold the majority in both houses, even ten conscientious gentlemen aren’t going to save things. But I want to share my story anyway.
My father retired in 2003 after nearly thirty-five years with General Motors and he had union support all the way. Given the state of the country before the first union was founded, I have to wonder what kind of conditions my father would’ve endured without the UAW, especially when I consider that he started at GM in 1969. Back then, he was a mere eighteen years old and safety standards were a lot different. Not only does my father make most of his living off the pension that the UAW and GM agreed upon at some point in his career, but the healthcare that the union bargained for is ensuring that he can afford the doctor’s appointments and medications he needs to fight off mid-stage rheumatoid arthritis and advanced fibromyalgia. I’m willing to bet that ninety-nine percent of the Republicans that voted for the right to work bill have never even heard of fibromyalgia, much less experienced it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…without medication, fibromyalgia causes terrible pain (enough to drive my father–who rarely cries–to tears at least once in the last fifteen years) and debilitating fatigue.
Where would I be without the UAW? I wouldn’t have a house to live in, because GM might not have given my father a fair wage that enabled him to buy this house. Without a union, General Motors might not have agreed to help its employees with legal issues; which means my father would’ve likely had trouble getting out of his mentally and emotionally damaging marriage to my mother, because he wouldn’t have had the benefit of a company-provided attorney. I suffer from IBS, panic disorder and clinical depression. Without the medical benefits I received until earlier this year (which the UAW certainly bargained for), I wouldn’t have been able to afford doctor visits, therapy or medication. Thanks to the agreements the UAW made with General Motors, my father was able to send me to Pine Rest Christian Hospital last fall when my depression was at its worst and I was ready to check in. I never thought about it until this very moment, but I think in a way, the UAW saved my life–without Pine Rest, I would surely be buried in Needmore Cemetery right now, not celebrating thirteen months free of suicidal thoughts.
So you can tell me that unions are full of nothing but bloodsucking, mindless, soulless freaks. You can tell me that right to work will bring more jobs to Michigan, because it will make us seem like a corporate-friendly state. But as I live and breathe, you cannot tell me for ONE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING SECOND that unions have not only saved my life, but they’ve given me a life to live.