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January 3, 2004
Look For The Union Parable

Los Angeles has been struggling through a weeks-long grocery strike and lockout, which was in full swing when I visited family at Thanksgiving. I've avoided writing on the subject of the strike because it only affects the people of Southern California and I'm too far away to know all of the issues involved, most of which appears to be centered around management's refusal to keep paying 100% of the union's medical insurance.

Apparently, union tracts being handed out to shoppers defying the picket lines -- when strikers aren't screaming harassment at shoppers, that is -- features a parable about a man and a goat. (No, I'm not making this up, and get your mind out of the gutter.) The parable tells the cautionary tale of "a man who is granted his wish for a goat and another man who is jealous and is granted his wish to kill the goat. The moral, we are told, is that we should all work for free health care rather than object to grocery workers getting their care free." In today's LA Times, Eric Hainline tells another parable, one that is a bit more applicable to the situation:

Once upon a time, a miller went into the forest and labored all day and all night to fell a tree and cut the wood and load his wagon and haul the lumber into town to sell. With the money he earned he purchased a goat, which he took back to his mill, and there he rested.

When he awoke he went to the barn for milk and discovered a hose attached to one of the teats on the goat. He followed the hose as it traveled out the barn and across his field and into the house of his neighbor, a laborer who sometimes worked for the miller carrying grain. The miller was angered that the laborer had helped himself to the milk, and he cut the hose.

When the laborer discovered that the hose had been cut and that he would receive no free milk, he howled in displeasure. He went into town and declared that he would not labor for anyone unless his free milk was restored. And he stood at the gate of the mill and hurled insults and cabbages at anyone who brought their grain to the miller for grinding.

Read the whole thing. I've often read the Little Red Hen recast as an anti-union analogy, but this definitely is more appropriate to the LA strike.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 3, 2004 7:29 AM

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