Monday, September 05, 2005

On Labor 

Note to international readers: today is Labor Day, a national holiday in the US, one of about a dozen wherein most of us don't work. Causes no end of end-of-summer long weekend holiday traffic, especially up here in the "gateway to Vermont." Brits should note two things: first, that we don't put a "u" in labor (take from that what you will). And second, that labor in the US ain't no party. Now, on with the shortshow.

I've always thought of Labor Day as inherently ironic, a day we celebrate work by not going. But the real backstory turns out to involve Grover Cleveland's attempt to appease Pullman workers on strike, and win back public support after a nasty strikebreak. It didn't work -- Cleveland lost reelection -- but the holiday stuck. And now you know the rest of the story.

Also true: I find myself much more appreciative of labor this year. Joni Mitchell knows you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone; being jobless for so long creates no end of appreciation when the right job finally comes along in the nick of time. But being unionless was also a constant cause for stress at the ol' prep school these last seven years. Five major changes of administration later, and my now left-behind oncepeers still look forward to a workload that grows subtly but surely each year, no way to keep employee benefit payoffs from growing a percentage point each time the calendar turns around, and a pisspoor compensation package to match despite a recent overdue raise.

So this year we're celebrating in style. Off to the Guilford Fair with the munchkins for a smalltown celebration of all things agro-rural; back soon to prep for week two teaching, excel workshops with seventh grade math students, schoolwide teacher training on the new grading software, and the geeky excitement of who knows whatall to come.

And, on my lunch break tomorrow, I'm joining the teacher's union. Any group that can create such a wonderful package of benefits and high pay while maintaining excellent relations with local taxpayers and school administration, especially when most surrounding town teachers are starting the year with no contract at all, is worth my five hundred a year. Never thought I'd say so, but hoorah for the union; may its banner yet wave.

We'll be back in netless Northampton as of tonight. More soonest, with union card to prove it.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:50 AM |

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