On my way to a union contract ratification meeting this afternoon, which seems a particularly appropriate way to spend time with some of my union brothers and sisters today. Also thinking about this performance of a classic union song, Bread and Roses, from the movie Pride.:
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread but give us roses
A key feature in some forms unionism hasn’t just a living wage to support a family, but also work that contributes to a meaningful life. That’s part of where a limitation to the employer’s control over life comes in. We are more than our jobs, and our humanity is not reducible to our employment. Art, music, criticism, entertainment, dining, communing with our fellows, these “roses” are a necessary part of life. They are due to workers, and our employment should provide us with the means to sustain not only our bodies, but our minds and souls. Mere survival is never enough.