WORKING MAN'S HANDBOOK
Thoughts Of A Union Sprinklerfitter
Kenneth E. Ralston, Jr.
Woe is the blind man who cannot see
Everything that the Unions do for you and me.
We strike and picket and say low rates are not fair.
40-hour workweeks, overtime, benefits, and pension
And yet you don't seem to care.
How long must you suffer and do without?
All because of a man who fills your head with doubts.
Broken promises and dreams that you wish would come true.
All you have to do is run a little faster and I promise I will make it up to
Please wake up and realize what I say is true.
The only one who can make a difference is you.
Someday, I hope to see all the blind men walking with me.
Proud and tall we will stand.
Who deserves it more than the working man?
"Don't believe it!" your boss will say.
Of course he will, he wants the rest of your pay.
Don't be scared.
Do what you think is right.
Stand up for yourself.
Come join the fight.
Listen to your boss and foreman and all you will see
Is nothing because a blind man is all you will be.
If you get angry about the things I write,
Don't be, just learn to accept them,
I guess it's your only right.
I hope you're happy and I hope all your plans
Turn out to be what you expected for making
Half as much working for Mr. Boss Man.
If you want to know why I should care,
It's because it was during my teenage years.
25 of my years wasted away working hard for better things,
When, after all, I was fooling myself and living a dream.
I'm older and wiser now and have found a good life.
You can do the same, or just smile, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
For one day you will grow old like my father before me.
40 years of non-union sweat
With nothing to show for it and full of regrets.
Thank God I'm brainwashed and that's no joke.
For if I wasn't, I may as well be broke!
AT THE AGE OF 63
Yes, laugh all you want.
Yes, come laugh at me.
And we will see who will be
Laughing at the age of 63.
You say your boss takes good care
Of you and does his best,
To supply your family with all its needs
For life-long happiness.
My father thought the same way you do,
And if you ask him today,
You'll find him sweeping and mopping floors
For minimum wage.
He's not laughing much anymore,
He doesn't have much to make him happy.
I'll bet his boss doesn't feel the same pain
Living in Tallahassee.
He made his fortune and used my father,
And kept saying, "I can just barely keep my head above water".
It's all over now, and there's nothing he can do,
But work until he's dead, just like you.
I try to feed you with wisdom and
I want you to see that it's no fun laughing
When you're old and broke at the age of 63.
A BETTER LIFE
People like me are born everyday
Tired of working hard and honestly for such little pay.
I dedicate my life to make your business prosper and grow.
Why doesn't my family have the things in life we need?
This, I need to know!
You're rich and wealthy and deserve to be.
I never wanted all of that,
Just things in life to take care of me.
Like a good paycheck, benefits, education and pension.
Oh and there's one more thing I would like to mention.
Like decency, respect, dignity and pride.
These are things a person needs
To lead a strong and healthy life.
Without these a person is just a number
Who can be replaced, who never has wonder.
Please do for me what I do for you
And let me have a good life also
While I work for you.
UNION WORKING MAN
If you ask me who the hell I think I am
I will proudly tell you I'm a union working man.
I work for my boss and I keep on giving.
In return he gives me a good living.
I am treated like a human
And because of this I must ask.
Why you would want any less from life?
Let me jog your memory of things from the past.
Sweatshops, slave labor, and 80-hour weeks,
Children working on assembly lines and no food to eat.
Couldn't go to the bathroom or you lost your place in line.
Worked for what seemed like forever for just a nickel or a dime.
People had enough of this and would not take any more abuse.
They all stood together in solidarity, harmony and brotherhood.
A few people died, and the rest of them stayed
To give us all a better living which we still fight for these days.
You say that's all over and there's no more need for me.
But every time I look at you I think about my history.
Even though you don't want it and don't seem to care,
I am looking out for you always,
If you need me, I'll be there.
Men and women of our unions arise!
It's time for us to speak out and open our eyes.
We must all join together for a battle to be won.
Never to rest again, our job is never done.
There is a great evil that lives within all nations.
When left alone it only festers and grows;
Eats from generation to generation.
The evil of which I speak is Greed.
Usually, the ones who can't see it are the people it feeds.
I don't think the greedy person really understands
The pain and suffering that they hold in their hands.
People wondering aimlessly, worrying about what to eat,
Or bills to pay, or life after retirement.
Too bad the greedy person doesn't once in a while have to suffer in this
To feel what it's like to raise a family, or face life's problems on what he
or she pays.
There are other issues I haven't spoken of yet,
Like pension, education, medical benefits and respect.
So the greedy person has found another way.
"Let's send our factories overseas for even cheaper pay.
There, most people don't know or care about a standard of living.
We can make so much more and not have to care about giving."
Blessed are those who want you to have a decent life.
For them, work as hard as you can, be faithful and thankful for your
For we as a country must lead by example
On standards of living and not just about survival.
Everyone in life has enough problems to face.
Why must the people some work for add to their disgrace?
I'm not asking to own your business or take your money and run.
Only to be treated as a person with feelings,
Who needs a home, or to raise a daughter and a son.
It's our job as union people to look out for people like you and me.
From coast to coast, and from sea to shining sea.
The unions were not made for just a chosen few.
They were made for everyone who labors and works
With needs and wants like you.
For without our beliefs, what would the world be like?
Imagine everyone who works hard living in poverty and having no workers'
We must make America stronger and let our ethics and work force be Number
This is why I write these poems,
To show you what we face and what needs to be done.
RIGHT TO WORK
Americans from all over, I want you all to see
What the right-to-work state means to you and me.
I don't mean to cut down the non-union,
But there is something I must say.
Your bosses are getting greedier each and every day.
The time has come when even your jobs don't seem to matter.
I have seen busloads of green card workers climbing up the ladders.
It's not been just one job, or two or three.
How bad must things get before you wake up and see?
Your life doesn't matter to him.
All he wants is more money.
I hope he doesn't find out what the others are doing,
Or soon you won't think it's so funny.
Is this what our country is coming to?
When the people who live here can't even get a job.
All because illegal and legal aliens are being used by money hungry
Yes, they have the right to work, but let them do it in their own
Why should they be allowed to ruin ours
Just because of someone who is interested in only money?
You call Ohio a right-to-work state, but a right for whom?
The cheapest labor money can buy so that leaves out me and you?
If you think I don't know what I'm talking about
Just keep your eyes open and you will see
Foreign people doing our work and corporations sending our jobs
A man who cannot share a portion of his wealth fairly with all of his men
who make the wealth for him is not a man at all. But is just a leech that
attaches himself and lives off of the blood and sweat of his men's labor and
their families' needs. Is this leech feeding off of you?
Remember: your boss and foreman don't want you to think that you are
worth more than they think you are.
Hey, guess what? We just got a 3-year contract with a $2.00 raise every
year. You'd better let your boss know so he can give you more money so you
won't leave him. You ought to be happy that we get raises, or else all you
would get is your regular 10-cent per year cost of living increase. Is there
any way that I can jump over to your side? I want my life to be sooooo much
Don't get mad at me because I get a good paycheck.
Instead be mad at your boss because he won't give you one.
When I look upon the job sites these days
The more I see of moral decay.
People working hard all of their life
Just trying to make a living barely enough to survive.
Is it fair to make people hurt, scratch, and feel the way they do?
No, but when greed lives in your heart,
You begin to play the part of a real life Ebenezer Scrooge.
It took 3 spirits to convince him that the life he was living was
If he did not change he would be dragging chains
Along with his money box too.
I know it was just a story but there was a point to be made.
As long as you treat people as if they are dirt
Then you shall be money's eternal slave.
Also I recall a story in the Bible of a rich man a camel and needle.
Why a camel could pass through the eye
And pass the rich man by
And leave him outside the gates of St. Peter.
For judgement day shall come for everyone rich and poor alike.
How will you spend eternity for the treatment of another human's life?
For here on earth you may think you have won
And for now that may be,
But when your time has come thy will be done
For all you've done to people like me.
If you don't change now I feel somehow
Where you're going you won't need heat.
On earth you may hide behind the cross
But your soul will still be lost
Forever, never again to sleep.
THE ROAD TO DESTRUCTION
I call this America, but every time I go to the store I see
Products made from all over the world, but almost none of them are made from
You see our labor is being replaced and sold to other countries who don't
give a damn.
About children working in factories or working for the cheapest rate they
Oh, what a sacrifice our own people have to make
Just because someone who is money-hungry worries only of their own fate.
Some employers' and corporate leaders' salaries have reached far more
Than can be seen by the eye.
We the people help put them there and now all they do is push us aside.
Like dirt being swept under a rug is how they would like our lives to
Never to be seen, never to be heard, just to be walked on, and never to be
We vote in politicians who are supposed to be there to work for our country
and for us.
But instead, they point their fingers and blame each other;
Do any of them deserve our trust?
It used to be when elected, the only thing that mattered
Was all that stood for the red, white and blue.
Nowadays, it's money that pays and slinging mud is the best that they can
How can America call itself a world leader
When we follow other countries down the road
To make more and more people live near poverty,
To make us, the common people, carry the load.
You can't treat people as if they were low-life scum.
The backbone of all businesses, without us, how would you get the job
I don't have all the answers, but I do know one thing for sure.
To lower the price of a person's life is surely not the cure.
The leaders who sell us out for favors to make more campaign money
Should be locked up and sent away to live in a third world country.
For once there, maybe they could understand and see
The path where they are leading us is not far for you and me.
There's never enough said, but if I go on I could write a story
Of a country out of control, which shames its people, who soon will have no
So I'll sit down again and begin to think and write
Another poem of people suffering,
The dishonor and humiliation of human life.
IS COMMUNISM OUR GOAL?
Hey rat man please don't go away
I have something very important to say.
Why is it we call you names?
What makes us play these stupid games?
I thought we all were working for all the same things:
A better life for our families, to live the American dream.
Who is the one who really makes us hate each other?
So full of greed, to turn brother against brother.
Its no longer just a fight between the both of us.
The rich man wants it all; he acts like a communist.
In a communist society the rich people have their way.
There is no middle class and everyone else gets little pay.
There are few rights for workers and keep your mouth closed,
Do as they say, do what you're told, and if you're lucky you may get to grow
You may think I'm crazy in what I say.
Look at China, we are becoming more like them everyday.
Many of our ancestors fought and died for workers rights.
Why are certain politicians taking these away, just for spite?
I guess when the rich and corporations hand out campaign money
They'll do what ever they want, even sell out our country.
The unions are attacked and put down all the time.
For if we are gone, it won't be long
Until we are all working for nickels and dimes.
Just think how much more the rich can make;
They can have all this labor for the cheapest possible rate.
If they get lucky, there won't be any workers rights.
Our children won't have to go to school; we can use them on the job
No more voice on how you're treated or what you do or say;
Just do what you're told and be happy with what you're paid.
Yes I've heard that I'm a communist for everything
I believe in and what I write.
But if you get right down to it there's a big difference
Between us and the communism we fight.
The rich man's communism is like the story I just wrote.
My communism is on human rights and the choice to vote.
A chance to get ahead and walk tall with pride,
To be paid honestly for your labor, for the use of your life.
All I want is what's fair for everyone who lives in this country;
To stop hurting the common man just for more pocket money.
There are millions of people with many wants and needs
That are being made to suffer all because of greed.
So we can just sit around and call each other names,
Or straighten out this country and stop playing games.
I don't want this country to be the land of the shameful and the cheap.
A world where we stab each other and stand in bread lines for food to
I know the unions are not perfect, for every dog has his day.
The answer is not to kill us so the greedy can have their way.
We must find a way to work together for humanity and what is right.
To be a leader of society is to be an example of human life.
If other countries don't follow the standards we have within.
Then the answer is to stop their imports from coming in.
Quality, respect, and pride should never have to take a back seat
For a land so great as ours, a land I hope we keep.
I will work on what needs to be fixed and what is corrupt,
Never ever give in and especially never give up.
I will try and do my part to let everyone see
To keep this country the land of the brave, the proud, the free.
The unions have made mistakes and some have been hurt in the past.
But please remember who was doing it to us, the people who don't want us to
Yes you can make a difference, just get out and vote.
One freedom that we all share, the one that gives us hope.
This for me is just the beginning; there will be no end.
For greed has become my enemy and brotherhood my friend.
I have talked and listened to so many people today
There are so many with negative attitudes or nothing good to say
They tell me there's nothing possible anyone can do
Politics and money decide the future for me and you
Many don't care or even use their right to vote
A choice between the lesser of two evils
Who can you depend on or trust
Which one may give us hope?
One side wants our jobs and the other wants our guns
Will this be a nation of poor people
Unprotected from our own greedy scum
Values like discipline and respect are hard to be found
I wonder what happened to them
And why they are no longer around
People keep more to themselves today
And have very little trust
Will this be a land of hermits
No longer a place for us
The rich want complete control and pay
For leaders who they want to run this land
To help them get more money for themselves
And stick it more to the common man
Children are killing each other
A generation with nowhere to go
All they have to look forward to
Are low paying jobs and no future to grow
Divorce is more common than marriage
It's so much easier to run
Kids being born with one parent
Where have our principles gone
Our armed forces today are now treated like trash
They live practically on welfare
Is this how we give our veterans thanks
The national debt when did it start to grow
Why is our generation left with the bill?
Who used the charge card? I'd like to know
Nuclear waste and pollution all through our lands
Why don't we work on answers, when will we have a plan?
We still have bombs pointed in every direction
A push of a button, No more resurrection
Some parents need to stop blaming everyone else
Be responsible for your children
And also be responsible for yourself
I know it's hard if both parents have a job
Could this be part of the problem
That our kids are being emotionally and mentally robbed
Some say history repeats itself like when there was
Slave labor and the great depression
Maybe that's what we all deserve
To be taught another horrible lesson
You'd think that people would learn from mistakes
That have been made in our past
But people get lazy and ignorant
And finally greed bears its ugly head at last
When I first started writing
My thoughts were just about the unions
But I see a larger picture now
A country headed for ruin
It's a shame that mankind does this to its own people
To have money tear us apart, to be so full of greed and evil
Yes we could use some help and some good advise
Of the problems that we face as nations
The problems that could possibly end human life
As you see our problems are many
And there's nowhere to run
We either fix them now
Or we can just enjoy it until all life is done
What will be here for our children and the generation's after
A world filled with murders and thieves
Or honesty, hope, and laughter
So stop drowning in your sorrows
Stop living for just day to day
This is my earth too and I'm here to stay
You have to live with me and I with you
When you think NOBODY CARES
Just remember there are some of us that do!!!