By “Boxcar” Liam Britten
Although the CP Rail Teamsters were legislated back to work Friday by the Conservative government, another union, the Union of Canadian Hobos (UCH) began a sympathy strike today to support the Teamsters at CP Rail and fight for better conditions themselves.
Citing a litany of grievances about their working conditions, compensation, and the way rivers keep looking at them funny, the over 6,000-strong union represents all of the bums, sponges, alkis, drifters, beggars, and tramps who ride the rails in search of temporary work and cheap liquor.
With their collective bargaining agreement recently expired, the hobos have reached a stalemate in negotiations with management. Demands for workplace safety, new bindles, harmonica tunings, and a bottle of mouthwash every day have fallen on deaf ears, primarily because most managers are delusional voices brought on by the hobos’ mental disorders and inhaled paint fumes.
“We hobos understand the magnitude of our actions. We realize the seriousness of a strike that paralyzes major infrastructure the entire nation depends on,” said UCH chief negotiator “Boxcar” Pete. “But we cannot stand by any longer as our better-paid and less-urine encrusted comrades suffer under the yoke of oppression.”
[quote style=”boxed”]Citing a litany of grievances about their working conditions, compensation, and the way rivers keep looking at them funny, the over 6,000-strong union represents all of the bums, sponges, alkis, drifters, beggars, and tramps who ride the rails in search of temporary work and cheap liquor.[/quote]
The scope of the strike is wide-ranging. The hobos will refuse to perform almost all of their normal duties, which may have major ramifications for the country. Decaying cities will now be completely free of hobo songs. Tall tales will be noticeably shorter. Incoherent screaming will be minimal. And perhaps most troubling of all, the nation will be completely free of any horrible reminders of the consequences for falling behind in a capitalist society.
Unity among the hobos is extremely high. After the UCH leadership informed members that the Union’s emergency supply of cooking wine could last all summer, members voted 96 per cent in favour of labour action. This solidarity is a good sign for the strikers, as labour unrest can be trying for workers
“The hobos really need to make sure they don’t encounter competition from scab workers,” said “Boxcar” Gary, a professor of vagabond studies at Memorial University. “Also ,they need to watch out for blister workers, open sore workers, festering wound workers, pustule workers, missing teeth workers… the list goes on. What I’m trying to say is, hobos are really unhealthy.”
Although the strike is in its infancy, the federal Conservatives have made no secret about their desire to get the hobos off the picket lines and back to not working as soon as possible.
“My office will be tendering legislation within the week to end this strike,” said Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. “These dregs of society are an essential part of our nation’s economy. If regular, everyday Canadians have to drive to work without getting their BMW’s windows squeegeed for mere pennies by a destitute man suffering from Hepatitis C, our government is not doing its job.”