I started suspecting that — at last! — I was nearing the American Dream and scraping my fingernails in a grip at the bottom of my 15 Minutes of Fame when people began recognizing me as “that Paradise nut” and coming up to say, “Howdy!” in restaurants and parking lots.
Yesterday my suspicions were confirmed.
Fame is mine.
I’ve reached the dizziest height to which a weekly columnist/blogger/wordsmith can aspire.
Yes, that’s right. Yesterday I was contacted by some folks asking me to write something favorable about the cause in which they strongly believe so my readers will urge their representatives to vote for passage of the “Employee Free Choice Act,” which was submitted to Congress last month.
Talk about a feeling of accomplishment.
My chest is swelling.
So is my head.
I am so there, baby.
Top of the world, Ma.
I mean, I don’t know one single, solitary other person anywhere who’s been given this opportunity.
At least, not here in Paradise.
Here’s the lowdown:
The EFCA “will finally update the arcane and outdated labor laws of our country with a modern and streamlined system for workers to join together and bargain collectively.”
And the reason the EFCA has to do this is:
“For years, workers in America have tried to organize unions under the arcane laws established under the New Deal. These laws created … the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was charged with holding union elections in worksites and policing the actions of employers during the process. This process worked well into the 1960s, but today … organizing a union could not be more unfair.”
Here’s how the unfairness manifests itself:
“Union elections can take months to schedule, and employers often use the delays to harass, intimidate, cajole, lash out, sweet-talk, harangue or otherwise convince their employees that there is no need for a union. Workers are often fired for trying to organize a union. …”
I’ve got more facts and a whole lot of figures, courtesy of the staff of my own union, the Writers Guild of America, West. Yes, that’s who got in touch with me. Not only am I a success, I’m in the unusual position of being one in what I definitely think of as my own “land.”
The only way things could get any better would be if it the request had come from all the aunts and uncles and cousins who didn’t believe in “Teenager Larry B Who Thinks He Can Support Himself As A Writer Ha!” instead.
I understand that my tone here sounds mocking, as though I don’t believe in, or care about, making union organization easier and fairer. But I do believe in it. I believe in the protections unions give workers. How can I not when my main income is my union pension? In fact, I believe, in general, in anything that levels any playing field or clears the logjams that so often block what’s right or new.
Writing about it, however, makes me feel…uncomfortable.
I don’t write about issues or politics. Never have, not in any of my writer incarnations. I write about people and feelings, and, sometimes even ideas if one or two strike me.
And in my writing about people and the rest I try very hard not to argue in favor of this or that or the other thing. I like to present situations and let those who are kind enough to read me draw their own conclusions. I like to demonstrate rather than advocate.
In other words, I’m in a spot. I want to celebrate the fact that people I respect view me as an opinion-shaper, and it seems proper for me to do that by shaping some opinions. But I feel that shaping other people’s opinions is exactly the kind of thing kindly Uncle Larry B never should do. To me, it seems like an abuse of the trust a reader puts in me by reading what’s in this space.
Talk about being cut down to size. My chest has caved in. My head is shrunken. Once again, the sky stretches out so high above me I can’t see its end.
I’ve failed in my task.
Of course! That’s it! I can help the cause and keep my self-respect if I go straight to those who actually vote. So, “Yo, Arkansas Senators Lincoln and Prior, Congressman Boozman, don’t just sit there! Vote for the EFCA!”
My 15 minutes are up.
Larry Brody is an author, veteran television writer and producer and creative director of Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts. He, his wife, and their dogs, cats, horses and chickens live in Marion County. The other residents of the mythical town of Paradise reside in his imagination, however, and any resemblance to actual places or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Originally published March 26, 2009