Forsaken: The Edge of Everything
Allied Unions and Ukiah Local 42
One common measure is the formation of Merged or Allied Unions. Unaffiliated unions throughout a settlement will join forces, hoping to increase pressure on local employers. A strike in one sector becomes a bigger threat, after all, if it means every unionized workforce in town will strike as well. In theory, this should give the workers a great deal of leverage over ownership.
In practice, it’s… a mixed bag. While the threat of citywide strike is enough to keep employers somewhat reasonable, not all work is created equal. While skilled craftspeople are irreplaceable, it’s easy to find scabs for manual laborers. Yet if one union goes on strike, its allies all must join in until the offended group is satisfied.
This means less skilled workers must stay on their better-trained allies good side to ensure they join in any collective action, while skilled workers can strike safe in the knowledge their compatriots will follow.
Unions of more skilled workers, commonly called “Keystone Crews,” end up calling most of the shots — their grievances become paramount, while those of the less skilled workers take a backseat. In some cities, Allied Unions move in lockstep and support each other no matter what. In others, the Keystone Crews tell their fellows when it’s time to strike and when it’s not, creating a sort of caste system within the pact. Already prone to corruption, these stratified alliances are hotbeds of graft and organized crime.
And businesses do not take these tactics lying down. There’s a depression on, after all, and if pushed far enough by their local Merged Union, an employer will pay to relocate unemployed workers from across the country. Scab riots have become a troubling phenomenon in any city with hostile relations between Union Alliances and employers. Likewise, the greater, nationwide labor guilds, like the teamsters or teachers, find their authority undermined by local branches who march on their another group’s say-so, leading to the increased splintering and Balkanization of American culture.
Ukiah Local 42
One of the first Union Alliances nationwide, the Ukiah Local 42 takes its name from the Construction Workers’ and Electrical Workers’ Unions who spearheaded the merger, both of them ranked number 42 in their larger organizations’ reckoning. These two Keystone Crews, both necessary for MPG&E’s continued operations, were able to hold the power company up for a plum contract that guarantees first refusal on any offer. Though the Local 42nd gets along well, there is an unspoken greater respect for the more influential electrical and construction workers — a lesson the teachers’ union, who just joined last year, is quickly learning.
Maggie and Hank Caldwell serve as speakers and chief organizers for the 42nd. Maggie was an electrical technician with MPG&E, while Hank was a skilled construction worker. They met through friends and spent much of their courtship working to bring local labor together. Hank is the charismatic firebrand, a lifetime Ukiah resident, star athlete, and outspoken believer in workers’ rights. Maggie is the the brains of the outfit, a clever woman with a sensible head on her shoulders. Rumors say their marriage has been strained of late by the tense negotiations with MPG&E. Hank has certainly been spending more time in his father’s old house, a fact that bodes poorly for Gracie, Tim, and Rory, the Caldwell children — and their favorite child, the Local 42.