I married my wife many years ago. At the time, she had three teenage children.
A few years afterwards, Donna was about seven months pregnant with our child, and we were on a cross country ski vacation with friends when I attempted something that was pretty reckless.
Skipping the details of my stupidity, I found myself lying flat on my back in the snow staring at the clouds, convinced I had broken my back. But the only thought running through my mind was, “How am I going to support my family on $135 per week?” Not “how am I going to get up?” or “How am I going to get back to the cabin?” but “How am I going to support my family on $135 a week?”
Fortunately, my worst fears, were unfounded. Despite the intense pain in my back, I only had a broken fibula, and only missed about 2 weeks of work.
But the horror of that moment has never left. Above all, the fragility of a working person’s income. But I also gained a huge appreciation of what my union had done for me. Although, I wondered how I would support my family on $135/ week, that I could even count on that disability benefit was because my union had put that in place.
But even more important is the question I did not ask myself at that moment. I did not ask about health insurance. As a member of my union, I belonged to a multiemployer benefit plan that provided health care benefits for brief periods of unemployment.
And that is at it should be. We should not have to ever worry about health insurance.
At that moment I was already an officer in my local union and active with the Central Labor Council. But that moment of horror made me appreciate even more just how much my local union had my back in every way – and how important unions are to all working people.