Autoworkers Under the Gun

Autoworkers Under the Gun
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

AS FAR AS HE COULD SEE

He wanted to be
a working class hero
not the fucking peasant
John Lennon sang about.
He left the university
went straight to the rank and file,
learned to smile with a snarl,
and conceal his knowledge
of Marx & Mao.
He was pragmatic.
He absorbed the grit and grease
philosophically,
cut the dialectical edge
with obscenity.
He was gambling on the glory
of a revolutionary day.
He worked the crowd,
ridiculed bureaucracy,
fought the boss,
and got elected to a union job.
It wasn’t long before
he impressed the International.
They knew they could use
a man like him,
someone who combined
ideal words
with a predator’s instincts.
He joined the gang at
Solidarity House
where the office rats
were afraid
to fight, afraid
to lose, afraid they’d be out
on the street
too.
So they devised
the Modern Operating Agreement
for the rank & file
to abide
as if
it were a passing style.
Then encouraged cooperation,
and trumpeted partnership
as year by year
the membership
was laid off,
sold off,
bought off,
spun off,
while the office rats
at Sold Our Dignity House
played golf
with the boss,
padded their cushions,
and feathered their pensions.
He still thought of himself
as progressive if not
revolutionary.
When he drove his Crown Vic
through  pickets
at the gates of
Solidarity Heaven
he donated a buck
to the cause.
But he had the ex
to think of, a second family,
kids in college, the house
on the lake, and his retirement.
He couldn’t forsake
it all for a cause.
Besides, they were just
fucking peasants
as far
as he could see.

Gregg Shotwell





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