I'm a very happy guy today. A particular union is not going on strike against a particular major airline, and so this story ends today, and not weeks or months from now.
I hate covering strikes. The main reason is that you are on call 24/7. You work nights. You work weekends. You sometimes spend more time with other families than you do with your own. And if some clown gets upset one night and starts a brawl and gets arrested, you have to go cover that event.
Things have really changed, though. Strikes (the workers walk out) and lockouts (the employer locks them out) have become unbelievably tame events. No one gets out of line. No one engages in fiery oratory. Everything is pretty much by the rules and by the book. In fact, I haven't seen one arrest that wasn't as carefully choreographed as a New York ballet.
The police are notified in advance of the event. So are the employers. The police are told exactly how many people will be committing the precisely described example of civil disobedience. And the police pretty much agree to go along with the exercise, and are just as polite as possible about taking people off to the police van for the ceremonial ride to the lockup.
I once followed a group of striking/locked out employees all the way up to the posh, mountaintop gated community of a certain high ranking supermarket chain exec. The whole event was choreographed from beginning to end, and I filed a story that got buried in the next day's newspaper. When asked why the story was so brief and so badly placed. I had to tell them.
"Well, you folks didn't exactly DO anything."
It wasn't always like this. The very first labor fight I covered involved the United Steelworkers of America and their effort to wrest union control from another labor body at Newport News Shipbuilding, then the largest shipyard in the world.
Those guys were serious. I'll just give you one example. Every time a strikebreaker tried to drive a vehicle past the picket line, the steelworkers would stop it, start pounding on it enough to leave dents in it, and rock it to the point of nearly turning it over. They did that with EVERY vehicle, every day. Now, people are so concerned about liability and being sued that they pretty much always play by the rules.
I'm just happy I don't have to cover another strike, and can just go home tonight.