(Originally Cont’d Oct. 3, 2009, Angels Part V, Angels Appear as Earthly Messengers)
I also got involved with the Newspaper Guild and our local at the newspaper level. I took part in union negotiations, usually being one of the lone holdouts to insure that some clerk or underpaid dispatcher could get a few extra dollars in their pay check. I enjoyed the give and take and the high drama that developed at contract time. Will there be a strike? How much is the company willing to contribute to the pension? Will there be “givebacks” this time? How secure will I be with a new contract?
I liked it so much that when I was offered a chance to work for the union under a leave of absence with full pay and benefits, I jumped at the chance. For more than a year, I served as union organizer for Local 10, the Philadelphia branch of The Newspaper Guild. I canvassed more than 25 papers in the greater Philadelphia region, stretching from West Chester, Chester County, to Reading, Berks County in Pennsylvania and to Atlantic City, New Jersey, preaching the gospel of the union explaining how their fellow workers could enjoy the prosperity we union workers enjoyed.
We spread the union message like evangelists seeking conversions, and obtained a National Labor Board election in at least one newspaper, Reading Times and Eagle, but fell to defeat when the company obtained counseling from a union-busting firm. We lost, but I flourished with a new-found resolve.
During the height of the union movement in Reading, I learned that a good friend from my college newspaper had left journalism and was attending law school, of all things. Charlie Brown, the Vietnam vet who smoked more grass than most anyone I knew while helping to put the Temple News to bed, was on his way to become an attorney.
Well, if Charlie Brown could get into law school and become a lawyer, I can too, I thought, thus sprinkling water on a tiny seed that grew into taking of the LSAT and then a special board to review applications of those with low scores but high life experience merits, and in my case, the Vietnam War, newspaper journalism, and labor organizer, to see if they could offer a different service from the legal profession. I got in by the skin of my teeth. Charlie Brown, you are an Angel!
I marched into law school fully armed with the knowledge I learned from the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and the rules governing union elections. I would make a perfect labor lawyer. It was a dream simply waiting to come true. That is, until I met Professor Marina Angel, (her real name) a Greek lawyer who suffered no fools gladly. I studied harder for her class than any other. I brought to class the life experience of a professional who had actually worked in the field and saw first hand how the law operated.
Yet when I took her exam I fell flat on my face. I got a D+. My one and only D in my 3-year law school career. I knew too much to put down so little on her exam. I began to realize then that something was at work beyond my understanding.
(See Part VI, at angels 6)