The Offer

Arnie Ginsburg called me into the office. T. Mitch was sitting there. Arnie closed the door and asked me to sit down.

“We don’t think the engineer should be part of the Union,” Arnie said. “We are willing to make you Chief Engineer if you will agree to not be part of the bargaining unit. Your pay will be $200.00 a week.”

I hesitated. Two hundred a week. I was making one-twenty. That was as much as Charles made. Max and the others only made one-sixty. Did that mean I could have a Volvo and a nice little apartment, like Charles? Chief Engineer. Ray Riepen had already gone out of his way to point out that I was just a technician, a fixit guy, not a real engineer.

“No,” I said. Arnie’s peculiar, greenish color darkened. T. Mitch hadn’t said anything. He hunched over in his tweedy sport jacket and looked at the surface of his desk. I could see the liver spots and post operative depressions very clearly on his scalp. I got up and walked out.

I went to find Danny Schechter. He was in the tiny newsroom at his desk, surrounded by stacks of old copy pulled off the wire, magazines and pieces of typewritten manuscripts. Cardboard boxes full of cassette tapes filled whatever space was left.

“That’s illegal, man,” he said. “What do you want to do about it”?
“I dunno, what do you want to do about it”?
“Well, if we file a complaint to the NLRB it’s our word against theirs. No witnesses.”

That night I went into the studio and described to Charles what had happened. “Two hundred a week,” he said. “I would have taken it. By the way, you know that noisy pot I told you about last week?” he said, pointing at a volume control on the control board, “it’s still noisy”.

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