Gosh, where do I begin? Without making this post a gripe-fest?

Okay, let’s be descriptive for starters: I have been on strike for over seven weeks–one month and 22 days to be exact. Every week, I put in a minimum of 20 hours of picketing to qualify for a maximum of $250 of strike pay. What I do on the picket line depends on the picketing site. At the downtown branch, I try to walk for two-thirds of my shift, and spend the rest sitting down. While I walk, I usually take the opportunity catching up with or getting to know co-workers. When I sit, I either join in on a conversation, read, or knit. Sometimes, I will sign up for sitting at the registration or public information table to inform the public about what our issues are and what the media is not reporting.

Typically, a picketing shift is four hours. We are allowed to do two shifts (i.e. eight hours) a day. I prefer not to picket outdoors for an entire day, so I either will picket only for half a day or put in hours at strike HQ to help with administrative duties. Picketing is exhausting. Being exposed to the sun and wind saps more energy than one might think. My approach to filling my hours is to pace myself because I can’t afford to get sick or injured.

Essentials for a picketing shift: small backpack, water, sunscreen, walking shoes, windbreaker, something warm to wear, lip protection, portable time-passer (book, yarn/needles), snacks, sunglasses, cap, positive spirit (though that’s not always possible to procure). I can’t seem to get the hang of how much water to drink. Am often dehydrated.

I live extremely close to a branch (a minute’s walk), and fortunately for me, union members decided to establish a picketing site there a few weeks ago. So I’ve been picketing there as well. There isn’t much space to walk because branch is part of a mall and we are careful not to obstruct entrances to other businesses. I’ve been doing 20-40% of my hours there. Typically, I will read, knit, converse, or play Scrabble there. Occasionally, I will solicit signatures for a petition addressed to the City to end the civic strike by bargaining in good faith (which the City has NOT been doing).

Okay, better stop for now. I can feel my heart beating faster and my blood pressure starting to rise. When I calm down, I’ll be writing about some things I’ve learned from the past couple months. Isn’t that the point of living through hard times?

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