Poem of the Week 02/27/18
For such a hardassed place,
Hoboken smelled like heaven,
The scent of coffee being roasted
In tubs the size of shipping containers.
No one could ever sleep or be calm
In such a caffeinated spot.
They sent me to cover a strike.
The union base was a storefront.
There were open bottles of whiskey
On the tables at 10 AM.
I was a union man myself,
Local 30 of the Newspaper Guild.
The shop steward was a Reagan conservative
Who said I had to get over
Any “socialist shibboleths” about being in a union.
I wasn’t worried by any socialist shibboleths.
We got paid better than our non-union competitor.
That particular strike got resolved (with no bloodshed I can remember).
Local 30 threatened to strike as well
When management started with this galling thrust:
“We feel the employees of The Jersey Journal
Do not deserve a raise.” We were ready to walk
Until we got a stingy bump of four percent or so.
I kept my union card long after I left Local 30,
Appreciated the coffee and whiskey adrenaline
Ginned up to defend new workers like me.
None of my other employers was a union shop.
But last summer at the journalists’ convention
The union had a table over against the wall.
Times change; they are now The Newsguild
As newspapers fall by the wayside.
They gave me a few old-school reporter’s notebooks.
I told them I loved the union still.
When the bastards offer you $1.50 a week
While keeping the millions for themselves,
The union will put the bottles on the table.
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