Friday, January 16, 2009

Unions - the real heroes

Please check out what I found on Fire Dog Lake:

They're calling it a miracle--the successful landing of a US Airways jet in the Hudson and subsequent rescue of all 155 passengers. They're detailing the heroism of all involved, starting with the pilot and including cabin crew, ferry crews, and first responders. What they're not telling you is that just about every single one of these heroes is a union member.

Here are some details:

On board, the pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, 57, unable to get back to La Guardia, had made a command decision to avoid densely populated areas and try for the Hudson...
One passenger, Elizabeth McHugh, 64, of Charlotte, seated on the aisle near the rear, said flight attendants shouted more instructions: feet flat on the floor, heads down, cover your heads.
As the first ferry nudged up alongside, witnesses said, some passengers were able to leap onto the decks. Others were helped aboard by ferry

There's more. Go read it.

Once more, with feeling. I'm a former union member (American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Musicians, National Teachers Association and, while teaching as a graduate student, the American Association of University Professors) and a current strong union supporter. It has to do with basic fairness (why should the wealthy be able to organize but not ordinary folks?) and basic safety (workers are on the front lines - so, of course, they're going to know more about what's safe and what's not - not to mention, care more.) Two things propelled me into the musicians union back in the day. One was the time I played a non-union opera job and my pay check bounced. I never recovered that money and I had no recourse. The other was (ha!) another opera job in which there was a dead rat in the truly filthy orchestra pit. (Hmmm. Better than a live rat, I suppose.) At that point I figured it was time to stand up for better working conditions!

Now, are you remembering this bit? All, that's right all, passengers and crew involved in that crash survived.

UPDATE: Just in case my point is misunderstood here: I'm not suggesting that these people were only heroes because they were union members. I am asserting that union members are not anti-American enemies the way some big business conservatives make them out to be. I'm also strongly asserting that good jobs with decent pay, decent benefits and decent working conditions tend to attract quality, responsible, dedicated people.


  1. Anonymous12:06 PM


    thanks for the affirming words about unions.


  2. Right on, Sister Ellie!

  3. Anonymous8:06 AM

    You have GOT to be kidding! The rescuers were human beings doing EXACTLY what any human being should have done. Please.

  4. Hi, Anonymous. Sounds as if you didn't actually read what I wrote. I'm not suggesting they did what they did BECAUSE they were union members. I'm just saying that those who are down on unions need to take a hard look at who union members actually are.

    I'm also saying that unions help make jobs attractive to quality, responsible people.

    And, look, friend. Have the courtesy, if you're going to post here, to at least use a made up screen name. This kind of "drive by" anonymous posting is a bit immature, don't you think?


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