David Macaray

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

Articles by this author

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Friday, September 7, 2012 - 7:32am
Organized Labor at the Crossroads
If history has taught us anything, it’s that perception trumps all. While we like to believe it’s cold, hard facts that dictate our belief system, that simply isn’t true. It’s images that influence us. Images, postures and perceptions. I recall reading that when Marlboro cigarettes introduced the “Marlboro Man” (a rugged cowboy on a horse) way back in the sixties, their cigarette sales jumped by 3,100-percent in one year. Same cigarette, same package, different ad campaign. Perception is everything.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 7:03am
The Curious Appeal of Ayn Rand
Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, recently made news by declaring himself an unabashed admirer of quasi-philosopher Ayn Rand. Reportedly, Rand’s books are required reading for Ryan’s staff. I think the case can be made that Ayn Rand appeals to people for the same reason Friedrich Nietzsche appeals to them. Her bold “truths” are not only an exciting mixture of defiance and heresy, they are epigrammatic and digestible enough not to over-tax the intellect.
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Friday, August 3, 2012 - 1:21pm
Heaping Insults on America’s Teachers
When Joe Torre left as manager of the New York Yankees following the 2007 season, it was not without rancor. According to reports, Torre felt that, after years of faithful and productive service, he had been grossly disrespected by Yankee management. Torre turned down a one-year $5 million salary offer, which, while a large chunk of change in the real world, was a hefty $2.5 million less than he’d made the previous season.
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Saturday, July 28, 2012 - 9:56am
Tattoos As Self-Mutiliation
Even though I was more or less in favor of it for reasons of health and hygiene, it was nonetheless a surprise how swiftly and irrevocably the ban against smoking tobacco went into effect. On Monday, we were all smoking in our homes and offices, mindlessly chugging away on those deadly cancer sticks, and by Friday, we were being told we could never smoke indoors again.
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Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 9:05am
Joe the Plumber: American Icon
Like a bad penny that keeps turning up, we can’t seem to get rid of Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber). Introduced at a Republican rally in 2008 by candidate John McCain, who saw him as a metaphor for America’s common man, Joe climbed on stage and gave a speech about what a great country America was, and how sad it would be if “socialists” like Barack Obama were allowed to ruin it. The audience loved him. He was one of us. As tricky as “populism” is to define, Joe was its new poster boy.
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Monday, June 25, 2012 - 7:25am
Teachers in the Crosshairs
During my twenty-odd years as a union rep in a big-time factory (a 44-acre paper mill), I had occasion to talk to over a hundred people about the things we most regretted in our lives. It’s true. That was our topic of discussion…. regrets . Things we hadn’t done but wish we had , things we had done but wish we hadn’t , and things we would do differently if we could go back and repeat them. The whole gamut.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 8:02am
Fire All the Teachers! (and Other Inanities)
Two of the most damaging misconceptions people have about labor unions are (1) that union members tend to be substandard workers (lazy, unreliable, surly, privileged), and (2) that union members can’t be fired because their “masters” will always go to bat to protect them.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 7:52am
What’s an American Worker’s Life Worth? About $5,900
Acknowledging the alarming polarization and gridlock of Congress, and the startling, rightward shift of the political spectrum, you regularly hear people declare that there is no way we could get something as ambitious as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) passed today, not in this dreadful climate.
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Friday, May 4, 2012 - 7:05am
There Is a Plague Loose Upon the Land
Most states in the union have laws against “gouging.” Broadly speaking, gouging is defined as the practice of arbitrarily raising prices on necessary goods, such as milk, bottled water, baby food, baby formula, bread, etc., in response to civil emergencies (riots, martial law) or natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, tornadoes).
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 6:58am
Union Activists Are Being Murdered
Make no mistake. We had some ugly anti-labor mischief of our own during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where union organizers, political radicals, suspected anarchists and Bolsheviks were blackballed, beaten, imprisoned, deported, murdered, and state-executed—all in the name of “law and order.” But while many of these men (and women, too….they deported Emma Goldman to Russia) were clearly railroaded, at least the high-profile figures were given the semblance of a jury trial.
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