He who attains power
Seeks to remain in power
Power corrupts
The only ones who deserve to be in power
Are those with no desire for that power
There are not enough who are immune

In 1985 I was involved with the Steelworkers' Union. I was in the employ of a nursing home where the management was so corrupt and had so little concern for their workers or the residents of the nursing home that it was a constantly unfolding tragedy. They fired a woman for being pregnant because it would help them avoid paying for her maternity leave. Nurses' aides were disposable commodities.

One might wonder why the Steelworkers' Union was so interested in establishing a service union in a nursing home. They were actively pursuing the interests of the employees and supporting them in their fight against management. There were those in the union who sought to right wrongs and create a better working atmosphere. Then there were ulterior motives. If they were successful in establishing the nursing home as a union shop, they could then do so with the other nursing homes in the city. Would that have been a bad thing? Perhaps not. Any master was a fantastic substitute for what they had. They would have welcomed the devil if he would provide a decent wage and worthwhile benefits. This was a company that produced false attendance reports with forged signatures in order to fire people they didn't like.

The union lost the vote. It was highly publicized. They lost by one vote. In the weeks leading up to the union vote, the management gave out raises, held raffles where television sets and VCRs were given out, and hosted two banquets for "employee appreciation" while handing out warnings. The warnings were propaganda telling the employees they would lose control of their lives if the union was allowed into "our family atmosphere." How quickly people forget.

The issue went to trial. There were obvious unfair practices underfoot and the whole thing smelled like a badly frightened skunk. I provided key testimony in labor court. I had witnessed a manager promising two Cuban resident aliens a salary increase in exchange for assuring they would vote against the union. The judge threw the management of the nursing home out of court and judged in favor of the union. There, was, however, one problem with the paperwork. My subpoena was not on file. It was still in my desk drawer at home.

I never turned it over to the courts. As a result, my testimony was stricken from the record. There would not be a new union vote. It didn't matter. The owners of the nursing home were in the process of selling the place to a major health care corporation. Managers were wiped clean and a new regime was brought in. They were expecting to deal with a union shop and brought in the kind of people who were experienced with that kind of atmosphere. The union begged me to give them the subpoena, but I just told them the check was in the mail. Two years later the nursing home was sold the the city hospital system. It became a long term treatment kind of deal. Everyone dispersed and found other jobs. It was what needed to happen. There was too much bad blood to continue. I knew it and that prevented me from handing the nursing home over to a union that knew nothing about the health care industry.

In recent months I found myself on the other side of the fence. I found myself aligned with management in a fight against rogue employees who had no interest in following any kind of chain of command that didn't let them do whatever they wanted to do. The battle went to the corporate level. The corporation didn't want to have anything to do with an unstable site and removed the manager in the hopes it would allow the site to return to some kind of normalcy. They found a technicality that allowed them to do so without a challenge. As a result, I work in a place where there is a loyalist group and a rebel group that is now allowed to do as they please. Our client has lost a great deal of respect for us. They cannot believe we allow the charade to continue. The rebels have no respect for the company. They have no respect for the client. They got their own office so they could work without being encumbered by oppressive rules. They do puzzles in their office during work hours. They say it helps them to relax because they are so oppressed. It has reached the point where there is too much bad blood for things to continue without a major change.

I have seen those who always stand with the workers to protect and affirm their rights. I have seen those who only care about the bottom line and curse anyone who detracts from their profit margin. I've seen it at every level and watched it from every corner. I don't stand for anything. I stand with what I know is right. I stand with things, neither against them or for them. I stand where I am comfortable.

I am a patriot
I fight for a country that knows no boundaries
I fight for a country that can never be defined
I fight for you
I fight for me
I fight for them
And I never throw down the gauntlet in doing so
I do it my way
And I am a son of a bitch
My mother told me that once
I laughed for an hour at the irony

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