Sunday, April 18, 2010

Caveat Lectores on Too Much of a Good Thing

Has fire union support become a campaign curse?

The hyperlink transports to a news article I have been expecting to see. It is about how a fire union endorsement can be a curse instead of political assistance. Of course, it is media venom to further attack the notion that a union made up of worker bees should have any real input into how things are done.

Caveat Lectores has already been there and done that back in the 70’s when our IAFF Local became a pariah to political “friendlies” and a focus for contempt and derision for our enemies. Times were bad economically, or so they said, and we had found some political power that became public knowledge. The media decided to put us in our place. We did not help ourselves very much with some costly missteps.

Public employees are truly in the cross hairs of nearly everyone right now. Fire and police unions have been more politically successful than some others which make them even more of a target because there are many people and organizations who are threatened by the notion of political power being placed in the hands of real people organized into a cohesive unit. Even though Caveat Lectores takes some pleasure in deriding the Tea Baggers, I will agree it is their potential political power that concerns me. Their rhetoric is nonsense without numbers and political credibility.

When public sector unions are even marginally effective (powerful), they must understand their role is always limited to the shadows and bit parts in the overall political game. Becoming a public force brings out the naysayers in the media, the right to workers, right wingers and anyone committed to anti worker mentality. The easiest way for the media to damage a union and its leadership is to call them powerful. The leadership likes the warm feeling of accomplishment and basks in the glow. Then they start referring to leaders as “union bosses” and make it sound like doing anything to benefit a lowly public sector employee is corruption. The political “friendlies” who are not really friends, at all, but are merely political “users” will run for cover. This is not a new phenomenon. Wake up!

Union leadership has a choice to make right now. They can lay low and shore up what little real support they have and rebuild; or they can take the offensive and hope to defeat the media and the right wingers. The offended and often nearly hysterical members will want to strike back and start a war with the media, and the leadership usually falls into the trap.

The media controls the message. The media will win. Once things reach the ordained proper equilibrium, the workers can resume thinking they have a bona fide voice until they seem successful. Then we do it all over again. JFTDC that sounds cynical. Is it all smoke and mirrors and guerrilla warfare? …….

Here is the Caveat Lectores message:

Constantly assess and reassess your target goals. Ask and answer the following: What do I want to achieve? Will taking this course of action get me what I want? If the course of action I am following is not likely to achieve a productive result, why am I doing it?

There may be a good reason for starting a war or a battle that cannot be won in literal terms. Sometimes, you will have to react in an unpleasant way just to get somebody’s attention. However, you may be poking a stick in the eye of the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. Is that what you really want to do? They always have more resources than you do. The only way to avoid losing even when you win is not to fight the unnecessary battle. Political action is the best way, if not the only way, to prevail in a positive way even though you will be criticized for doing so.

I guess it is time to spend some of that time on the Art of War.

And Oh yes, have a Nice Day?


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