When I came across an article about the New York bus drivers strike in the NY Times, I am reminded that for the first 10 years of my life, my father was a bus driver and a union man. Although he eventually moved on from being a bus driver, he remained a union man his whole work life.
My father worked for the city back in my native Scotland, and like the workers in this story, he was more than just somebody who drove them around. He was a familiar face on his route, and a symbol of dependability. I can remember when my friends and I would get the opportunity to ride on his bus, and that I felt VERY proud this guy everybody knew was in charge, and that he was MY father.
Later in life I would reflect that he carried responsibility for many people’s lives in the same manner as an airline pilot, but yet worked long hours and was paid low wages. Like most workers in Scotland up until the 1960’s, he worked Christmas day as a matter of course. By 1963 staff turnover amongst bus drivers was over 50% in a 12 month period. In 1964 his union went on strike like the workers in New York and things started to change, but by that time he was in another job as a telecommunications engineer with strong union representation.
He never worked another Christmas.