Saturday, June 18, 2005

How Larry Got His Job

How Larry Got His Job

The national union was an old AFL fiefdom. The real action had been in the CIO, but Green had appointed one of his boys to head up the operation in Akron and, for years,
the union operated in a typically AFL way: lots of autonomy for the locals, so some were great and some were pathetic, a posh retreat for staff in Canada, and a president who didn’t do much but left everybody alone.

On the national staff was Dr. P, the research director, Austrian with a JD which meant his Dr. was bullshit, nevertheless Dr P had a constituency – locals that trusted him, appreciated his help in negotiations, etc. Larry worked for Dr. P.

The membership had been worried about health – understandable in a union of chemical workers. But, the old national leadership was slow in responding. How to put something in place that would not be a potential political problem? So Larry was a godsend. He was a rep from Connecticut with a college degree in horticulture. He had a political base, came out of a Cyanamid local and he could be brought on to meet the members’ worries. He was put into Dr. P’s office. Then Walter was elected.

Walter, up from the ranks of the TVA white collar crowd, a hero to the black locals in the South for not being an asshole, the kind of guy who wouldn’t take an officer’s commission in the war because he thought it would be better to be a sergeant in an egalitarian post WWII world – Walter challenged the president and won. Forty-six years old, bright, a labor-lawyer wife who was even brighter, somebody who Reuther had his eyes on. So he beat the old guard.

The inevitable fight between Walter and Dr. P happened. The details are not important. What’s important is that no president could have a staffer undermine his political position. So: after finding a nice spot on the AFL-CIO education staff for him, Dr. P was kicked upstairs and out of the union; and Larry was made Research Director. That Larry was an idiot was not a problem. Walter was going to put his people – young people – in place. The political base was covered – after all, Larry had been a buddy of Dr. P. That’s where we came in. We would do the work.


Chuck said...

North Georgia Red Neck

N was a little red haired guy from North Georgia. His father had been
in one of the textile strikes -- I think Gastonia -- and had been forced to
flee South. He opened a gas station in some small town in Georgia -- and
had one kid -- who he named Nigel Stalin Hampton. I never heard about the

State Teachers College in Alabama -- one of his English teachers, later an editor
at the Nation, a progressive integrationist Southerner, then in secret more or less.

After college, N was drafted into the Army, ended up editing the First Army
Battalion newsletter -- which he named FABIAN (nobody in the Army got the reference.). Awarded a medal for the article he wrote which ostensibly described the FAB information program (but invented whole-cloth).

When he was discharged, called former professor by then the PR guy for the
Chemical Union. N was hired a secretary in the Baton Rouge office -- working for a brand-newly elected vice president who everyone knew was near illiterate. So the union leadership was wondering what the hell was going on when well-written letters and reports came out of Baton Rouge. Somebody was running the office.

N was invited to a training program intended to prepare staff and local leaders in everything from collective bargaining to speechifying. One day he was asked by the instructor -- who figured he would put a redneck on the spot -- to speak on civil rights.
N gave an impassioned defense of civil rights -- and the young Alabama-born president of the national union was in the audience. N -- perhaps at the suggestion of his old professor – was invited to come up to Akron to join the education staff of the union. He arrived in Akron just when we did. And became a friend.

I remember Joy -- but I don't remember where N met her. I think they
married shortly after he came to Akron. I remember that their honeymoon was
in Cozumel, some exotic island in Mexico.

I think that's it. We lived in the same housing development. We worked
together. He was a comrade -- and hated Larry just as we did.


anders said...

this is like mel gibson theoretical technic, like rhetoric of james dickey, insurance manager, off the plane, his black socks sweating . . . motel bar . . . hilarious and Grade A Weird Thompsonian deconstruction metempsychosis of the "office" -- 10 stars.

Chuck said...

Jack, so why is this so unlikely to get published in MiPo? Chuck

anders said...

because EVERYTHING is unlikely to get pubbed in mipo... do you know how much stuff i give 'em that they reject?

they some tuff cookies.

good stuff tho.

didi said...

not sure where the subject of getting published on mipo or elsewhere fits in but jack is right - we reject him all the time.

and the only way to really get published anywhere is to follow the guidelines provided by the journal and actually submit.


anders said...

see Chuck? she's a dominatrix! "yes didi I will incorporate mipo" "yes didi I will rewrite my essay" it never ends.

P.s. Chuck, just be glad she is not the Bride of Chuckie.

The combination of "business" rhetoric and lyric in your writing here is extremely interesting.
Echoes of Ashbery's "The Instruction Manual," I believe which was written during an office job.


Chuck said...

Oh my god! Submit! Of course! What an idiot! I thought it was like the Hollywood fantasies, you're a soda jerk and a famous producer comes in and says, Hey Baby, ya wanna be in my e-zine?