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Solidarity forever ...

On May 2, 1945, the Soviet Union announced the fall of Berlin and the Allies announced the surrender of Nazi troops in Italy and parts of Austria.
   [ s o u r c e ]

This time last year we were just coming off an emotional and unifying strike, a two-day event that roughened and toughened our voices, and we had hoped our resolve. One year later it seems but a memory.

When the union’s inspiration
through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater
anywhere beneath the sun.
Yet what force on earth is weaker
than the feeble strength of one?
But the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions
that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle
not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power;
gain our freedom when we learn
That the Union makes us strong.

   [ s o u r c e ]
TAA Strike, April 2004
More photos from the strike.

This and other songs kept us inspired over the course of those two days. We signed up for shifts; I signed up for one each day, a few hours here, a few hours there, but somehow I was there nearly the whole day the first day, and practially all of the second. When our chant/song leaders disappeared I found myself in the position of having to shout and sing, even though my voice was alread cracked and nearly gone.

I enjoyed it.

Before last year’s labor action I had already worked with the union on a project, though on a broader yet less public scale: creating the TAA’s Domestic Partner Benefits website ... a “virtual lobbying” page. That project never succeeded, but the site we created remains to hint that earlier thirst for change, sort of like a waterstain left by a glass on a wood table.

A week and a half ago (Thursday the 21st) I marched with contingents from several unions, including the TAA, from the top of Bascom Hill to the capitol building—it was a catastrophe, as far as I was concerned. The undergraduate student speaker at the top of the hill did not know to project her voice or use the megaphone, and the guy in charge did not have the motivational skills to get people energized. I spent the walk down the hill and up State Street chatting with Sharon from Math, one of the many math folks I have come to know this year due to Regina’s living situation. Once at the capitol we gathered outside at one of the entrances to listen to several speakers from a variety of state and “national” chapters and organizations, but with one or two exceptions (and even those we temporary, never lasting the entirety of the speech) the speakers had no motivational skill, few rhetorical skills, no ability to capture their audience’s attention, and no urgency. They all had the same message ... so why did we have to listen to all of them? In fact, many of us did not ... we left early. Symbolic of this failure was the meager German Dept. participation; Sarah had roped me into it a week earlier, but I did not see others of my colleagues (which is why I joined the math folks), and within the department there has been practially no political interest at all this year at an organized level. Perhaps I should not bitch-and-moan, for when one does, one is reminded to get involved and change things—I have been involved, I have tried to change things, and when it comes to my colleagues I know that my voice is not one that they wish to hear.

Happy Orthodox Easter; Happy May Day.

Lights were configured earlier today; for me rehearsal began at 10am, as it did on Saturday. This time all the tech worked out, mostly due to Jayson’s hard work, and we were able to have our dress rehearsal and go home early. At 7pm Jürgen and I went to the Weary Traveler to meet up with Corina and Kim for dinner, Orthodox Easter being the excuse. Reuben sandwich, potato salad, and a tasty porter, followed up by cheesecake (from a local cheesecakery ...)—I cannot complain. My dissertation was discussed; my memory was commented upon; my future need to write things down was emphasized.

This is how I gather with colleagues now, and it is a good thing, but sometimes I wonder whether it is an act of reaching out to others, or, as a group, an act of withdrawing from broader issues. Then I am reminded of our weekly brunch meetings, which are similar and clearly more of the former structure/purpose. So it is that I will sleep with a clear conscience tonight.