Mike Harrison rode the 2 train downtown from Burke Avenue this morning. He is a dock builder working on the west side of Manhattan these days.
“The job is a little tougher in the winter,” he explained, “but there are plenty of people worse off than me.”
He opened his jacket to show off the logo on his sweatshirt: Dockbuilders Local Union 1456.
“I owe them everything,” Harrison said. “My family eats and has a place to live and can go to the doctor all because of Local 1456.
“I’ve been on the other side and it wasn’t good,” he continued. “I worked a lot of non-union construction jobs when I was younger. Lousy pay, no benefits and it was dangerous because those builders cut every corner.”
Someone asked him about Marvin Miller being cut out of the Hall of Fame.
“I think it’s embarrassing for baseball,” Harrison said. “But the people pulling the strings don’t care about that. They set up a crooked committee to keep him out. It’s really the same thing that unions face every day. The government and the media sell out the workers because they represent the interests of the wealthy.”
Harrison pulled a newspaper clipping from his pocket that included a picture of Miller and Reggie Jackson.
“I cut this out last week because it made me think of how long it’s been since there was a labor leader who really meant something.
“The strength of the Major League Baseball Players Association helped this whole country,” Harrison continued. “They improved the bargaining position of every union and that raised wages and benefits for all of us.
“If that doesn’t get you into the Hall of Fame then this should,” Harrison said pointing back to the newspaper clipping and a highlighted quote from Hank Aaron:
“Marvin Miller is as important to the history of baseball as Jackie Robinson.”