Tag Archives: Labor Dispute

Thoughts on Being a Striker

It’s over, the Strike, since a few weeks now. So why am I so angry still? Four months is a long time to go without pay, no unemployment, no heating assistance in the coldest winter for years, and relying on the local food pantry to supplement our home. I would do it all over again, because we were being forced to accept less pay and slashed benefits, frozen pensions, and basically it came time to stand for something. I met some amazing people on the strike line. Strangers brought us food and coffee and pizza and KFC. The strangers were nice. They seemed to be sympathetic to our struggle with a company that referred to the former employees as “Resources”. The replacement workers were by far a better workforce in the company’s eyes. They were also compensated far more than we were. The company paid 60 million to not settle with the Strikers. The online public was very different. They were very cruel in their comments, and never hesitant to write that we should all lose our jobs. I would never respond to any comments online, because it was a waste of my energy, and I was running out of steam as a Striker. Though I needed to be at the line because those were the only people who truly understood what happened to us, and we struggled together but also had a lot of laughs together. In fact, I had people say to my face that we should all lose our jobs and be replaced with workers who wanted to work. This was what initially made me so very angry. I was very argumentative with people I thought would understand, but obviously they did not. This public face had contempt for the Strikers. We were a bunch of bad asses. I find it a sad state of affairs. I am still angry. When will I stop thinking of myself as a Striker? My anger is perhaps something I held onto in order to have some control over a lousy situation. Maybe referring to myself as a Striker, is somewhat nostalgic as well as negative. The company was constantly blaming the Strikers for any acts of vandalism and filmed us constantly. I was disobedient by snapping over 3000 pictures during that four months. I felt the need to document something which was bigger than our own struggle for good wages and good jobs in New England. I would do it again. I would walk the line with my coworkers. I never wore my pajamas all day in my entire life, but I must admit, I did that a few times near the end of the long four months. We were very cold walking the line the last couple months, but thankfully a  local labor council  supplied us with propane for our propane heaters, which was especially good when the sun went down. It has been a brutal winter. One coworker lost all her hair, and others were diagnosed with cancer, and of course, our health benefits were gone. My own family was affected by a wheelchair denial because we no longer had insurance. Compared to what my coworkers who had health issues faced, my issue was minimal. To be honest, I was glad to be home during that time, but I had no real routine. That was the risk involved, going on strike at midnight Oct 16th, . Nobody knew what was in store for any of us. We took a chance while our unions continued to keep us updated and fight for us to get back to work. Strangers and unions across the country continued to add money to a Solidarity Fund, to aid families in need who were maybe denied for heating assistance locally, and who struggled with mortgages etc. I met coworkers I had never met before. Our unions met with us and told us that we had our jobs back and the strike was over. On the morning of Feb 25th, we walked into work together, and we all felt the same, very uneasy. We walked to our desks, and you could hear a pin drop. Managers welcomed us back, and a sign with the words “Welcome Back” with a smiley face, appeared to be written in pencil, halfheartedly. I am not sure anyone felt welcomed. It was rather historic, as it was the longest strike of the year. We were very appreciative that we got our jobs back, but there were many changes. We knew they did not respect us and we knew they were not our friends. We are all different now because of the experience.

My anger is still there….and I hope it goes away soon because it makes working at this present job, very difficult. Some of my coworkers did not come back to work, and some left to take jobs elsewhere. I am different. I no longer enjoy going to work, but I will work very hard as I have always done. I have always been self directed, and creative, and a problem solver. The Strike knocked the wind out of my sails and I don’t know how to remove myself from these feelings. Each day it seems to get better, but my future as an employee at this company, may be short lived. I feel as though I have many things I want to pursue. Without a talented workforce, a company is merely a skeleton. One word:. Google. Now that is innovation and creativity