Although I did watch Almanac the other day, I have very little to add to my nutshell explanation of why I’m not on strike. I’d like to hear from striking MAPE members who aren’t union leadership about why they’re striking. I’m tired of the rhetoric on both sides and want to hear some genuine thoughts on the matter from people on the line. Seriously. I’m aiming this request in particular to friends of mine who are offended and maybe hurt by my not crossing the picket line.

I will say this: I’m upset about AFSCME’s director’s comments on Almanac about those crossing the line: “They have a perfect right to cross the picket line, but our members we think have a perfect right to not talk to them when this is all over, not to associate with them. The decision to cross the picket line is a very serious one. [If] workers want to ostracize themselves from their coworkers, they have a right to do that.” (My emphasis)

I realize that that wasn’t MAPE’s response, but it is exactly what bothers me about this strike. It’s not about union solidarity. The strike isn’t just against the state, it’s against other union members as well. It can do permanent damage to people’s relationships, to their ability to work together as professionals. It frustrates me to no end to hear talk about unity at the same time that garbage like this is being put forth. The decision to cause that sort of rift doesn’t lie just with the scab — it’s also squarely in the lap of the strikers who decide to ostracize their peers.

I knew the risks when I crossed the line. I’m fortunate to work in an office where I don’t think I’ll be facing much enmity for doing so. Hard feelings, yes, but nothing that we can’t work on and move beyond. Together. I fear for some of my friendships with colleagues on MnSCU campuses, though.

I wonder why this issue is so much more personal than others, why it can bring such pain.

If the strike were about more than just money (and you’ll have to do some fast talking to convince me otherwise), I might be able to support it. But I don’t. I go over it every day, consider all the angles I can, and I still think that this is worth something as divisive and destructive as a strike.

I truly do feel for employees at the low end of the pay scale, for whom a $10 or $15 copay will be tough. I’ve been there. All too recently. Maybe the unions should be negotiating for a break for those members, or (as I believe just happened at the University of Minnesota) a minimum wage that makes up for it. Maybe the rest of the union members’ pay scale wouldn’t go up so much to make up the difference, and it could still fall within the limits the state’s working with. How’s that for unity? That’s something I could get behind.

Lest you think me nothing more than a State crony, let me hasten to add that the Governor has been acting like an ass through this whole debacle (though he, like the unions, has made some points with which I agree). And the State Legislature, despite their attempts to come out looking sweet through the strike by pitching in on the Jesse-bashing and glossing over their part in this mess, really set us up for the whole thing. Don’t forget it come election time.

The State and both unions return to the bargaining table tomorrow. May they reach some sort of agreement. Soon.