Last work day of the year. For the first time in my life, I am content. How lucky am I!
A year ago, I was coming off having worked 28 days in a row (not a single day off!), doing 16-18 hr days, every single day. I was (for the most part) a one-man organizing team for this small rehab hospital of about 200 workers. I poured my heart, sweat, and soul into that campaign – but way more than that, my committee of worker leaders put everything that they had and then more on the line. I will never forget them, working with them and developing them. At one point watching their bodies shake in pure pain and then cry – there’s a certain emotional intensity that comes with organizing non-union shops that I simply haven’t witnessed in any other sort of political campaign. I think about those worker leaders — M.C., K.O., R.S., etc. — every now and then, especially when union work just feels too hard.
In every way you can imagine, that campaign (and the surrounding politics of that union at the time) was fucked; I also grew the most as an organizer through working that campaign, more than I have ever grown in all the campaigns I’ve ever done. There is that.
I worked that campaign during the job I had before my present-day job. I had worked many more not so good organizing jobs before that. In fact, I had worked not so good organizing jobs continuously for three and a half years… honestly, it feels like many more years than that; I have the battle scars to show for it. And finally, now, I feel like I work for an organization to which I can say I feel I belong – progressive, democratic, intersectional, strategic, worker-led, powerful, militant, with relatively OK working conditions… by no stretch of the imagination anywhere near perfect, but there’s a love for the craft here that is based on and informed by winning real world campaigns, and we win, over and over, improving thousands of lives in the process, and while I hate to admit it, the fact that there is such a love for the craft here around which I can develop my own organizing skills – that in it of itself – keeps me going: the pure love of developing the craft of organizing, and being able to watch and be a part of the cutting-edge of real-world strategic contemporary organizing thought and praxis.
I am so happy with where I am at in life… finally. It took me a while, and it took some hard work. I do not know what the future holds for the unions and their existence, particularly in the public sector. Honestly, beyond the obvious horrific social and political implications of the unions getting gutted – on a profound personal and selfish level, I am beyond terrified that this Love I have found for my life may be taken away from me. What will life look like for me then?
But these are some feelings I’m having as I’m sitting here at my desk, the last work day of 2016. Maybe I thought I could share them?