Union or Non Union Back(or knees)? How to Tell

My back “went out” again Tuesday night and by “went out” I do not mean on a date for dinner with a hot redhead back. Here I was on Wednesday morning, in pain, and at a complete loss to know whether this was from having slept wrong, or having exercised for 12 out of the last 14 days. I took two aspirin that night and went to Zumba class. This apparently was not the response my back was looking for. It reacted angrily. “Angrily” like the little girl in the first Exorcist movie.

We entered new contract negotiations and at this point I realized that somehow, I, unknowingly had ended up with a “union” back. It had not always been a union back. For as long as I can remember, it had been a non-union back, working long hours, doing as much overtime, without care, or even pay or whatever pay as I would give it, not caring if core management was tough, or even there to help at all. In fact, it was soo proud of being non-union, it just laughed at the legs when they offered to pitch in and help, and you can just imagine what it thinks of my ass. No, clearly, for years, I had a non union back. Sure, it got sick, needed some time off on occasion, even some muscle relaxers and a trip to the chiropractor now and then, but when the hell did it unionize and I didn’t even notice???

With more and more attention being paid to unnecessary back surgeries. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tapping-into-controversial-back-surgeries/, and an aging baby boom population, I thought it might be helpful to point out how you can tell if you have a “union” or “non-union” back. This may guide your negotiations with your back and save you many a CAT scan, MRI, or even an unnecessary surgery.

A non-union back will hurt, ache, twinge, spasm, but with some non inflammatory pain killers, a little heat, and maybe even a drug store-bought brace, never keep you from your chosen work, family obligations or family. PERIOD. It will only go out on you when you’re lifting some thing heavy. Either ridiculously or repetitively so. You “break” it for your family, and give the shirt off of it to your friends, and even strangers.

Here’s some ways to tell if you have a union back. (Or knees, or other appropriate body parts they can all organize). It starts small – sometimes with a constant dull, non incapacitating but annoying ache. This is “A “sick out”, or (especially by uniformed police officers) “blue flu”, is a type of strike action in which the strikers call in sick. This is used in cases where laws prohibit certain employees from declaring a strike. Police, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and teachers in some U.S. states, are among the groups commonly barred from striking usually by state and federal laws meant to ensure the safety or security of the general public.” (All work action references quoted herein are from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strike_action and whatever they may lack in accuracy they sure make up for in humor). At this stage then, your back, knee, whatever is still buying the hype from the other body parts that it can’t strike- but it’s only a matter of time before one of them, usually the knees or the back goes all Chavez on you. In my case, the conversation went something like this: Management: “What DO you want?” Back- “Have you seen your belly lately? YOURE A FAT ASS!!!! LOSE SOME WEIGHT!!!!

Your first sign that your back has held official sanctioned union elections is they day your back “goes out” doing some innocuous, otherwise innocent movement. Like putting a glass in the sink, or getting the morning paper. Your back is making a statement here. It’s not “going” out while you’re lifting a 100 lb bags of mulch- NO- that might mislead you- it’s going out while you’re putting a feather on the top shelf of the bookshelf. Here’s your first official F YOU to management. This is the backs way of saying you’re not paying attention to my previous demands. “What previous demands”, you say? Here’s where it gets good

The back says, “So, you’re not going to lift. with your legs, eh?” “Core management?!?! We’ve never seen such a fat, lazy, overpaid, worthless group as that core section! “And don’t even talk to me about that ass”

Your next sign is your back will go out one morning, miraculously get better over the course of the day, EXCEPT, to do things like bend at the waist, or pick things off the floor. This is “Another unconventional tactic is work-to-rule (also known as an Italian strike, in Italian: Sciopero bianco), in which workers perform their tasks exactly as they are required to but no better. For example, workers might follow all safety regulations in such a way that it impedes their productivity or they might refuse to work overtime. Such strikes may in some cases be a form of “partial strike” or “slowdown”.” This is how the back lets you know you’re not working those legs enough, or that core enough. “Demands”.

I know now that I’m in an advanced labor management struggle because I’m getting exercise induced work actions from the back. It’s using a combinations of sick outs, work to rules, and over the last year, has threatened an all out full work stoppage several times. Lately, my right knee has staged mini sympathy strikes. Now I understand in yoga class when they tell us in bridge pose, and certain back bends on the floor just to use our core, leg and back muscles and to relax our buttock muscles they’re trying to keep the buttock muscles from organizing. (Somehow, one of my piriformis muscles got in the back union and I can tell you that is not good)

Anyway, I’m sympathetic to the union, I really am, I’m trying to lose weight, that’s what all the exercise is for, as well as to strengthen the core, legs AND buttocks so the legs don’t have to work so hard, but, I don’t remember any promises of defined benefit plans, or free back rides. Or back retirement, so ain’t no stayin home cause the back’s a little whiney. While I don’t always approve of these work actions, I really agree with all of the backs demands, and shutting the plant or moving all the work offshore really isn’t an option so we’re gonna have to work this out. We’ve brought in aspirin to mediate. We’re going to yoga together tomorrow. Namaste.

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