by Tim Paulson, Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
The Berlin Wall came down 30 years ago. I was there. I was on vacation and having a great time and then WHAM! Reagan told Gorbachav to “tear down this wall,” but I didn’t know it would happen when I was on vacation. (Can’t believe the anti-worker Reagan gets some praise in this article….)
I was lucky and found a cold chisel in a Berlin hardware store – not to “tear it down,” but to participate in the populist dismantling of everything that was wrong with Walls. I found a ladder in the place I was staying and chiseled and pounded what would be souvenirs of the Soviet Union cement I still have in crumbled pieces with other nick knacks on my fireplace mantel in San Francisco.
One thought about Walls:
Trump wants Walls to keep humans out. Exactly what America is not about.
Vacation pay: I had taken some vacation pay out of my account to go to Berlin. I was between jobs.
I want to remind every one of us who works in construction that we are not salaried workers. We get paid by the day and hour and don’t have the luxury to take the second week of June off to go to a cabin by the river with our kids to snag some fish and grill some hot dogs the next night.
We might be in the middle of a job, so we will have to take our leisure when we can. That’s why we have negotiated in our contracts extra money to do that. It’s called Vacation Pay.
As a union construction worker, I got that benefit. And when I got back from my vacation in Berlin I was dispatched from my union to another job and continued working. That is one of the reasons I want to belong to a union.
We talked about Walls where Donald Trump want to get rid of Mexicans and Arabs and everyone who has historically been a part of the American experience. An embarrassment for all of us.
I want to remind us of one previous real leader: Samuel Gompers, head of the AFL-CIO. I will explain his historical role in class politics in my next article, but here are the good parts of what he has said.
“More schools less jails; more books and less military; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”
He also said:
“Freedom of speech and the freedom of the press have not been granted to the people in order that they may say things which please, and are based upon accepted though, but the right to say the thing which displease, the right to say the thing which convey the new and yet unexpected thought, the right to say things, even though they do a wrong.”
He also said:
“Reward our friends and punish our enemies.”