I just joined the National Writers Union (assuming they accept my application). I've never belonged to a union before. Technically it's associated with the AFL-CIO and the UAW (local # 1981). Now when I rail about the recent decline in the power of American Labor I theoretically won't be quite so lame. I've actually committed money to helping folks who will advocate in my best interests. (Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?) Collective action for the common good--what a concept.
I have a friend who helps run the Boston chapter and she's encouraged me to join for years. They offer job postings and contract advice and seminars for members. All stuff I can use.
I have to confess that as a student, I got a bit bamboozled by the Reagan era anti-union tsunami that swept the nation, and saw unions as relics of the past, mostly interested in protecting people with excessive rules and not allowing flexibility and initiative. Most of the press still presents unions that way (ah, who owns the papers and TV stations, after all?) Then I started doing a little reading and had my eyes opened as to the extreme (and violent) struggle that went on between organized labor and capital at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century. It's easy to take for granted all the protections and benefits that the labor struggle has provided to so many. Taken for granted enough that we're starting to see them gradually erode.