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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Striking a Pose for Laborers!

That’s me on the left of each photo. Yep, I was a hell raiser back in 1998 [and on a few occasions since. Okay, before then, as well. Alright, alright! It’s more than a few occasions pre and post-1998. Quiet down already, and let me continue! Would ya?] As I was saying before all the interruptions, sweet friends, I helped organize a strike against the management of a non-profit social service agency in Oakland, CA. I’d been a union steward, published a chapter newsletter, and was partaking in contract negotiations. Issues at play included the potential loss of our “flex day” (1 day off every 2 weeks), salaries, and lots more.

We had an amazing turnout on the picket lines, with nearly 100% participation. That is, close to 100 of us stopped traffic (or, rather, we got a few honks). Note that when a group of strikers is comprised of 90% women, including some rather attractive ladies in tank tops, spirited truckers will support the cause –whatever said cause may be.

This soiree occurred during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. I was quite proud of one of the strike signs that I created: “Keep Clinton! Impeach [Insert Name of Evil Director here]!” I figured I’d try to take some heat off of the poor guy, who had experienced plenty of – well, uh – heat. Anyway, we danced and sang along the picket lines. We also took delight in mocking the supervisors, who took delight in mocking us from their office windows. Clinton fared none the worse for our efforts. In fact, he was not impeached.

We were flying high, until the chapter abruptly sold out following 2 days of picketing. All was not lost, as it was truly a unifying, empowering experience. Plus, I wrote the warmhearted song to follow. It almost made the top 10 list (in my home), but lost the competition to a silly version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. But that’s not important right now. We didn’t sing my song on the picket lines (I was too shy to distribute it then), though one of my colleagues anonymously emailed it to the Director. I’m guessing the boss didn’t appreciate it, but I could be wrong. To fully enjoy it yourself, you must know that (1) the evil Director had an unusual frame, involving big hips and a tiny waist, and (2) she was impeached by her own peers a year or so later. I’d already moved onto another job, exhausted by the entire experience.

Before I skip to this infamous song, though, I want to give a shout out to my (former) brothers and sisters of Local 535 and to laborers everywhere. Though I am now on the dark side (management), I remain committed to workers’ rights. Thus, managers who don’t have a high regard for ethical practices, and it’s shocking how many there are in social services, don’t like me much. I’m proud of this. I remain grateful to the laborers of the past who gave their lives for the cause of an 8 hour day and 40 hour week. Whenever I drive past folks on strike, they get my honking support.

We Will Survive
aka Ode to a Big-Hipped Woman
Sung to the Tune of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive

When first we saw her hips, we were mystified.
Kept wonderin,’ “How could anyone with legs so small have hips so wide?”
We spent oh so many months just as polite as we could be.
Now we’re venting our frustrations for all the world to see
That her ego, we’ll stand no more! She’s power tripping, and her tactics we abhor!

XXXX is the one who deceives us with her lies.
Does she think we’re stupid? Does she think we’ll give up all our rights?

No, no, we won’t! We’ve too much pride.
Oh, as long as we put up a fight, we’ve justice on our side.
We’ll show that big-hipped woman that we’re not afraid to strike, and we will fight
Until she does us right.

We’re unified. We are 535! Hey, Hey!

Look what we did; we changed our minds.
We voted for the money and set principles aside.
We showed that big-hipped woman that she can buy us out.
And so we pout, ‘cuz we ain’t got no clout.
We broke our stride, and we got fried
By someone who’s really wide. Hey, Hey!

Happy Labor Day, to those who get the day off. Happy Monday, to you all! xo


  1. please... stop the the laughing gas.....

    thats style....

  2. Way to stand up for the oppressed working Joes, Robyn! And a very cool song too! Nicely done!

  3. you write the best songs! Did you get tazered? Please tell me you got tazered. No protest is complete without a good nipple tazer. Either that or a water cannon. My next protest better include a water cannon.

  4. Now that's just hysterical....the opening line is the best. I might just have to have you write me a Convos rap or something.


  5. You look as if you're about to swat something in that first picture. I hope you managed to save the flex day.

  6. Excellent song! and well done to you! You should be congratulated for standing up for what you believe in.

  7. I first read the title as "striking a pose for Labradors'. I thought it was a post about dogs and I got confused half way through and then had to reread the

    It was easy singing the song in my head to the right beat. Go you!!

  8. ode to a big hipped woman ~ love it

  9. Oh, I loved these lyric! This sounds like it was an exciting time, even though they sold out in the end.

  10. Chuck, thanks! xo

    SirT, can't be stopped. Sorry. :-]

    Thanks BB! xo

    Tgo, the Joes always get to me. Thanks. {o:

    Cheeseboy, darn, I knew there was an effect missing. No, my nipples weren't tazered. Maybe next time. Thanks for the reminder. xo

    Daffy, sure. I'm game. Thanks for the visit and follow, friend. :->

    GB, I know, I look so weird. It was super windy. I felt the need to squat like a catcher in a baseball game because I didn't want to get blown away. We saved the flex day, but only temporarily. Lost it after the dust settled. xo

    Ca88, thank you. There is a price in standing up, but it's worth it - or so we must believe. :o]

    PTM, that would be a different pose altogether, on all fours and begging for food. In fact, I'd like to see you vlog that one. xo

    Margg, thank you! [-:

    Baygirl, glad you enjoyed it. It was so long ago, I imagine her hips have expanded greatly. xo

    Jason, it was exciting. Thanks for enjoying, friend. ;-]

    Happy Labor Day and Labrador Day (for PTM's benefit).

  11. Hahahaha....that was awesome!! I loved it!!

  12. Good to see the Berkeley side of you!

  13. I knew you were a rebel at heart!

  14. "Ode To A Big-Hipped Woman" sounds like a BLUESY insult. Yay Robin! I can see you taking commanding strides on the picket line as you strum your guitar (hard enough to break a string or two) and shout lines to the Big Hipped Woman watching from the company window...Wowza!!

  15. That is a heck of a song. I went the full gambut and sung it out loud so I could properly hear all the beats.

  16. Thanks for ingraining that song in my head! I've been right there with you. In a former life, I was a union steward and then a paid union official. I've walked a lot of those lines.

  17. BabySis, thanks. Glad you liked it. xo

    Sarah, I guess I do still have some Berkeley in me. :0)

    Marlene, definitely rebellious. I don't even try to hide it. xo

    Margaret, thanks. I love it, and I love your enthusiasm! (0:

    TS, you get bonus points for singing that one! xo

    Pat, you're welcome. The melody does stay with you, huh? Don't worry, it'll fade in a couple of months. Good for you that you were a hell raiser too. I'm not surprised, just proud of you. :0>