"If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool."

- President Abraham Lincoln

Let's be honest. I'm new to the labor movement and feel that as a reporter with a new beat, I have to tread lightly. I've read quite a few news stories on union activities and lots of information from the labor unions themselves, but finally I got a first-hand taste of that camaraderie that is so often touted on protest signs across the country.

I was assigned to interview union members about the value of union products for our Labor 411 directory at our recent Union Trade Show in September in Los Angeles. I was impressed. To a person, they responded with a genuine sense of caring for the cause, and for America.

There was a time when as a college student I saw picket lines and protests (and not just by union members) as little more than a photo op for certain causes. People waving signs simply because that was what they were told they needed to do to promote the movement; a kind of means to an end. This is the cynical attitude that often pervades my life and it was hard to believe any emotion other than anger drove such demonstrations.

The issue of trust, with regard to intentions behind a cause, presents itself yet again and so I turn to the man they called "Honest Abe." President Lincoln could perhaps be the shining example of genuineness in the long line of U.S. presidents. His statement above speaks to love, hate, trust and fear, all very passionate emotions. Many of these elements presented themselves as I spoke to the union supporters on Monday.

I had mistaken a deep passion for reactionary anger.

The one-on-one experience becomes a necessity in our current world of in-your-face news. The men and women of the hour were not attending the trade show to bang war drums, they were there to have a good time and revel in the warm experience of union amity that is rapidly being displaced throughout the country by those who are wrapped up in fear and anger.

The men and women of the current union movement love and trust America which, as Mr. Lincoln puts it, goes hand-in-hand with support for labor.

 

Michael Messina, Managing Editor, Labor 411

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