Her Paradigm Shift
 
Takes a new look at relationships at home and at the office.
Susan Brauer giving "CHEERS to You"

 

 

 

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To Enlighten, Inspire, and Empower
by Susan Brauer
Gold Bar.horz
Union

Glancing up at my house as I turned from the mailbox and began to walk across the road on an incredible spring day, the “Proud Union Home” sign in the window caught my eye. The bumper Susan Brauersticker “Unions: The Folks That Brought You The Weekend” popped into my head, and I smiled.

My mom’s dad worked in the Chicago Union Stockyards from the 1930s to the mid 50s. He was a “skinner” which was exactly what the name implied. The union was often a topic at my grandfather’s dinner table. Both he and his brother, my Uncle Pete, were proud that they had protested and even fought in Chicago streets for the Stockyard Union. And so were we.

Because of the union my grandfather was able to buy a small two-story wooden house “back of the yards” and early in his retirement, a cottage (that he named Shangri-La) near a lake in a small town in Indiana. I spent my summers there as a child, an experience that bonded my soul to nature and the wondrous green things of this earth. Not bad for a guy with a 6th grade education whose mother had emigrated from Western Europe in the late 1890s with no education at all.

The house that I lived in as a child came to reality from my parents’ dreams spun in a tenement apartment “back of the yards,” because of a union. In 1945, when my father came marching home from the war the salary from his white collar job was just enough to make ends meet. My mother, with her two year high school degree (the typical high school degree for a teenage girl in the 1930s) got a job at a factory. And the wages she earned for 17 years as a member of the Textile Workers Union of America bought our home and provided me with an extraordinary education at the neighborhood catholic school, an education that enabled me to become an engineer, later in life.

When I’d decided to go back to school at the age of 33, my husband’s job as an ASE Certified Master auto mechanic at a union shop paid wages and health benefits that made it possible for me to go part time, while continuing to feed, clothe, house and keep healthy our six boys. Several years after my graduation from the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Electrical Engineer, five out of six of my sons followed in my footsteps.

How far we have come! Three generations of union workers and their sacrifices have changed my life, my children’s lives, and their children’s lives, FOREVER. Their lives are full of interesting work, baseball games and dreams. My grandchildren have high hopes for their future with college as an expectation, and the knowledge it is for them and not just for the “other guy.” There is enough money to make life occasionally comfortable, but not so much as to sever my family’s roots to their past.

I know that nothing is perfect and power corrupts. But even with the corruption that at times has plagued unions, for me the good far outweighs the bad. I only have to look at my children and grandchildren to see the verification for my belief.

As for me “Proud Union Home” just about sums it up. Despite the possibility of bad things that power brings... I agree with Norma Rae, UNION!

 

Tags: union, roots, grandfather, back of the yards, Textile Workers Union of America, Indiana, ASE Certified, mechanic, wages, health benefits, University of Illinois at Chicago, electrical engineer, Proud Union Home, Norma Rae | Category: Her Paradigm Shift, empowerment, family, self

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Contact: Susan O. Brauer
c/o Dreamers Tapestry, Inc.
P.O. Box 207
Palos Park, IL. 60464  
Email: susan@dreamerstapestry.com
ph:  708.361.8017