Thursday, July 23, 2015

"It Won't Work" Ch. 13 Excerpt: Reinventing the Wobbly Wheel

          This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

      “I want to make a deal with you.”
      “He wants to make a deal with us.”
      “Bring our union up to date.” Eupheus Crutch had requested at the previous monthly meeting, and over the internet, that members rendezvous with him at Ft. Green Park, it was decided as most of the members lived in Brooklyn, on a Saturday next, one o’clock, to hear a very important proposal he had been working on for months, had even sent in to general headquarters for their approval, to no avail. He felt that the weight of a New York City General Membership endorsement would open up some eyes when it was published in the G.O.B., the General Office Bulletin for the Industrial Workers of the World.
      “I’ve been thinking, and sure working hard. Tell me how y’all feel. I’m glad y’all come here today. If Eugene comes it’s five, and we’ll have a quorum; we can vote on it and make branch policy. Thank you for listening. Cigarette Emerson? Oh yes, that’s right. You’ve quit. How’s that going, by the way? Uh-huh; didn’t mean to tempt you. What’s that; sure Fellow Worker Fergie. You are more than welcome to one. Well, well well. Lookie who’s comin up yonder hill, and only an hour late. I’m sure he has a good reason; he always does. Why Fellow Worker Portobello, you do us honor with your presence. Why sure we’ll be finished soon; I wouldn’t want to keep you from your Dante Workers meeting. I, too, have an important meeting in the City at five o’clock. I’m so glad you could attend. And, congratulations; you are the fifth member here in good standing. You are in good standing, aren’t you? Well that’s just fine and dandy.
      Without further ado, I have here in my satchel all the documentation y’all will need to make a proper informed decision. We have a chance to make history here, fellow workers, and sister worker Sadie. Fergie, Emerson, Pete. What you now have in your hands is the re-worked Wheel of Industrial Organization.  
      Compare it, if you would all be so kind, to Figure ‘B,’ Father Haggerty’s wheel. The good father, bless his Wobbly soul, besides leaving the pulpit for some more worthwhile and constructive vocation, for the welfare of all working folk, designed this well nigh about a century ago at a time when certain industries were still immature or hadn’t even been born yet. For example, there were no franchise restaurants with prepared foods back then so he classified retail workers in the food industry instead of assigning them an industrial union number of their own; he put them with butchers and greengrocers instead of listing them as sales clerks. What’s that Pete? Yes, I know y’all make cappuccino and latte, but, bear with me a moment, I shall answer all your questions in due course. That is why I.U. 640 is no longer reasonable and another number should be assigned service workers. Now look, if you will, at the new wheel I invented; a separate I.U. 660 has been created to identify all workers in the fast food industry. What’s that, Emerson? Why of course. I’ll just run my mouth a little while you find yourself a place to relieve yourself. I shall go no further until you return. Why yes, sister worker Sarah; I would love a candy.”
       Eupheus Crutch went on for another hour using all the time allotted to him. His fellow workers were tired and wanted to go.
      “I know it’s late but I call for a vote on endorsing the new wheel of Industrial Organization I put together. Now who seconds the motion?” No one raised their hand. “Now come on y’all. How about you Emerson; second the motion, won’t you?”
      “I don’t think we should be wasting our time reinventing the wheel when there are more important things to do.”
      “But I have explained the necessity there is for new industry…”
      “I have to go Crutch; another time,” said Pete as he stood up from the lawn to leave.”
      “Fellow workers: let us strike while the iron’s hot; now sit down for a moment won’t you fellow worker?”
      “Okay, I second the motion, and vote ‘no’ for changing the wheel.”
      “But we’re not voting on changing the wheel; we’re only voting for an endorsement from our branch for the acceptance by the general committee to bring it up for a union-wide vote.
      The other three Wobblies all raised their hands to vote ‘no.’
      “The vote is four to one, fellow worker Eupheus. That’s that.”
      “Well if y’all are going to vote not to endorse the proposal then I retract the proposal.”
      “You can’t do that; it’s underhanded,” said sister worker Sadie.
      “Call it what you will sister worker; I retract my proposal.”
      “Too late,” Pete said as he stood and walled a few steps down the grassy knoll. “The vote’s been taken. We do not endorse your stupid wheel. Bye?”
      “Well, I never!”
      The result of the vote for the NYC GMB rejection of Colonial Crutch’s wheel was printed in the monthly Wobbly City newsletter.
      Ah yes; The Wobbly City; Emerson had taken on the responsibility for organizing a monthly newsletter for the branch. No one requested that he do it, and no one offered to help; he just thought it was the right thing to do and he felt like volunteering to do it. He promised the general membership branch that he would send each member attending the monthly meeting a first draft of the newsletter for their approval before he printed it up and would spend no branch funds. It was an offer no one could refuse, so they voted to make Emerson the editor of the Wobbly City, a name he himself had come up with. For three years, every month, Emerson culled news stories from the branch members, sometimes tweaking minutes from meeting or pulling arms to get some copy. Usually he had to write copy himself, under three different pseudonyms.
      Sometimes it got a little dicey about what he could print. Eupheus Crutch claimed all names should be anonymous so the authorities couldn’t pin anything on anyone and cautioned Emerson to remember that sabotage was disavowed by the union so don’t print anything about it. Ry Grossinger took exception to a truthful article about his nascent Dante Barista Union because it didn’t reflect the image he wanted to have presented to the public. They almost came to blows over propaganda versus truth. Ry would write the articles about him by himself. Emerson had to edit the newsletter to let him do so, and he had the votes of the general membership, padded that week with baristas to make sure his veto held up.
      When one fellow worker threw his hat into the ring to be editor, every barista there, and the few members who weren’t baristas, agreed to let the new guy have a chance since Emerson had been doing it for three years. Tom Hood became the new editor saying he would work with Emerson on the transition. He decided it was better to use the internet technology to put the Wobbly City on-line and save paper. One issue on the internet came out. After that, Tom Hood was too busy with other more important projects to continue; and he didn’t realize how much work he would have to put into it. The newsletter languished not to see the light of day again for years.
      By the time Ry Grossinger had taken over the branch behind the curtain and nominated Emerson back as the editor of the Wobbly City, Emerson had already quit the branch.

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