SWEAT STAINED REVIEW: CONFESSIONS OF A BLUE COLLAR MISFIT
The World is on Strike
By Dan Denton
As a blue collar writer, card carrying union man, and a layman student of American Labor History, I’ve been sounding the alarm for a handful of years now, but people rarely listen. Here I am again, preaching from a new platform that I’m damn grateful to have. Pardon the fucking soapbox, but we’re on the precipice of historic fucking times in American Labor History my friends. And lucky for you, I’ve got some straight shooting insider knowledge of much of it.
If you’re an avid reader of this magazine, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, like all well-cultured trailer park literary addicts are, then you know that the writers have been on strike for months. And today, Friday July 14th, for only the second time in history, the actors joined them. I’m lucky enough that over the years of my ragtag writers journey, and years spent in factory’s and in the union, I’ve got acquaintances all over the world, and some of those acquaintances are writers and actors that are now on strike, fighting against AI and greedy production companies that starve the hard working people that build their massive fortunes.
That’s the thing about American Labor. Since the capitalists broke the hippie movement counterculture of the ‘60’s, we’ve all suffered, including American unions. We have one of the weakest networks of unions of any industrialized first world country powerhouse. The Europeans kick our ass when it comes to solidarity, and if you study history, you’d hate Ronald Reagan just as much as I do, for it.
But 2023 ain’t normal times friends, and no modern country with our historic wealth inequality has ever stood forever. The actors and writers are on strike, and the Teamsters are preparing to strike UPS. They’re having practice pickets and strike training right now as we speak, and yes, I’ve got dozens of union family, friends and acquaintances at UPS.
The Teamsters have a new progressive leader in Sean O’ Brien, and he seems to finally be a leader willing to stand for the workers.
And in my hometown union, the UAW, their newly elected president Shawn Fain, of whom I supported, and have met and talked with while serving as an elected UAW constitutional delegate, my brother Shawn just led the international UAW in a historic kick off of contract talks with the Big 3: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (global owner of Chrysler, my former employer.) Brother Fain and the international UAW held ceremonial handshakes with the UAW workers leaving their shifts at the auto factory and President Fain was quoted as saying: “We’ll shake hands with the auto execs when they give our workers their fair share.”
From my UAW insider perspective, I’d bet money that autoworkers somewhere go on strike this fall. Uncle Joe Biden has already appointed a special counsel to work with the UAW and the Big 3 to avoid a strike, because he’s worried strikes will fuck up the economy, and thus his re-election. Yup, our “labor friendly” President is more worried about his re-election than he is in supporting the workers that support him, in getting their well deserved fair share.
Mark this down now, Uncle Joe is going to fuck this up just like he did the railroad worker situation. He’s got a historic chance to rally for the American worker right now, as our world goes on strike.
We’ve all got a historic chance right now. We stand at the precipice of historic times, and as the great songwriter Pete Seeger once asked, “which side are you on?” Unless you own social media companies or mega internet ones, you’re on the working side. That’s the side I’m on. That’s the side the artists are on. The side the factory workers, and retail clerks, and teachers, and preachers, and apartment dwellers, and the soup kitchen eaters, and the janitors and diner cooks, and firefighters are on.
Support the writers. Support the actors. And whatever you do, don’t ever cross a picket line. It’s a cardinal sin in my socialist eyes.
Our country and our world is primed for change. The fight will not be easy. Trust me, I’ve been studying and reading world labor history in libraries for decades. The fight for what is right. The fight for justice has never been easy. But throughout all the history I’ve read, from gay rights, to civil rights, to justice on the job, we the people, the working class, we’ve always prevailed when we’ve stood together and held the line.
To my brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances in SAG-AFTRA and The Writer’s guild, hold the line. Hold the line.
Dan Denton is a former UAW Chief Steward turned full-time writer. His latest book is available from Gutter Snob Books