Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Sometimes it’s necessary to strike

    If ignorance is bliss, then last November I must’ve been in heaven.

    As Opinion Editor of this paper, it has been and continues to be my job to choose quality pieces of writing that convey a variety of views. While I usually agree with the opinions of our staff, sometimes I do not. In the end, however, I stand by my decisions.

    It was surprising to me then that there was one opinion piece I chose that I later came not to stand by. An opinion so infused with ignorance that I second-guessed myself. That opinion was my own.

    In the Nov. 21, 2012, issue of the Laney Tower last year, I wrote an opinion piece titled “Black Friday strike is punitive and microscopic.” I spoke of how “many [Wal-Mart] employees aren’t going to sacrifice a day’s wages to stand up for their rights. In the retail world, the average worker lives in a culture of complacency and prudence.”

    While I can’t take back the hurtful things I’ve said, I would like to share some things I have come to realize.

    In taking an Ethnic Studies class this summer, I have learned a lot about different races, cultures and periods of history that are normally overly simplified in grade school, high school, and other college courses.

    In our textbook, I read about New York’s historical Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, in which 146 young immigrant workers died in a sweatshop factory fire. These workers died even though a year prior, they had gone out on strike with numerous other companies, demanding more sanitary conditions and more safety precautions. This brought to mind the Bangladesh garment factory fire this past April — a factory used by Wal-Mart.

    I also learned about the United Farm Workers and the Delano grape strike of the 1960s, and how they were about much more than money. I realized I had been writing my piece assuming I knew everything about labor rights, thinking strikes were in fact just about money. In reality, I didn’t know anything about this issue.

    All of this reminded me of so many other workers who put their lives in jeopardy to this day because they are being oppressed by greedy corporations. I immediately thought of the BART strike and how even though we are still able to utilize BART services, workers aren’t pleased with the deal that was reached.

    Furthermore, I have realized labor struggles are tied to issues of class and race, and those are issues that go immensely deeper that I can explain here. I encourage our readers to research social justice issues and learn more about struggles that have taken place in our country’s history. Professor Paul Bolick’s Ethnic Studies class at Laney is a great place to start.

    The opinion piece I wrote last year was written very hastily and came from a place of ignorance. I have come to realize that any worker who is willing to strike — to risk their job, lose their wages, and stand up for what is right — certainly doesn’t live in a culture of complacency and prudence.

    Men and women everywhere, each day, are manipulated by organizations both big and small. So, even if the Black Friday strikers weren’t worried about a fire or losing their jobs for years at a time, I recognize they were standing up for themselves to better their lives and even the lives of others.

    While striking is unfortunate and affects many people, I understand now how sometimes it is the only option. Strikes are not punitive and microscopic; if anything, the underhanded business tactics of oppressive businesses are. I apologize for my hurtful comments and in turn applaud brave employees everywhere.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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