From the Bodies of Giants: Chapter III


Chapter III


John and I both work in the factory.  I’m more magically inclined, so they have me in the power station pumping magic into the boilers that spin our turbines.  John is half-elf, so he’s better with his hands.  They have him carve the strengthening runes into our equipment and into the final product.  We don’t see each other during work except for our lunch break, but that hasn’t been happening lately.

We normally meet up in the break room for lunch and shoot the shit for a half hour while we eat.  But lately we’ve been forced to work through our break.  It’s been happening to the whole shop for about a month now.  So I just kept working, John and I will just hang out at the bar after work to make up for it.  Some of the other guys hang around the same bar after work too, I’ve been thinking about talking to them.

We finished our work for the day and met up by the exit.  We live a block apart, so John and I usually cartpoole.  We got in John’s cart and went to our respective houses to change into our street clothes and get cleaned up.  

Then we met up at my place and chatted a bit before we left.  “I don’t fucking get it, Cyrus.  We do all of the work in that factory and we’re making pennies on the dollar compared to the bosses. I think we should talk with the other guys at the bar.  They’ve been talkin’ union,” John complained.  

I honestly agreed with him so I said, “I agree we need to unionize, we’re getting screwed over.  They already took our lunch break, what else will they take?”

“You wanna try to get in with the others at the bar?” John asked.

“Yeah, let’s see if they’re willing to let us help out,” I said

That settled, we headed to the bar.  On the way we mostly complained about work and the fact that we weren’t getting our lunch breaks anymore.  

When we got there, we saw the others sitting in their booth and walked over.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught a creep staring at us from the bar but didn’t think too much of it.  I handled introductions ‘cause John can be… John.

“I’m Cyrus, this is my best friend, John.  We work at the factory, and we’ve seen you around.  We figured we’d introduce ourselves ‘cause it’s not gonna happen over lunch.” 

Then they introduced themselves.  There were three of them, a burly half orc-half dwarf, a gnome, and a human.  

The half orc went first: “I’m Cedric, I work maintenance on the equipment.  Pleased to meet you guys.”

The gnome went next: “I’m Jameson, but most people call me Jamie, I assemble the final product on account of me small hands.”

Last was the human: “I’m Alex, I do the turbine maintenance.  You guys gonna stand there all night or sit down?”

After introductions we mostly just made small talk for awhile; they weren’t sure of us yet.  John and I don’t usually hang around with any of our other co-workers, we’re content to do our own thing.  

“We heard the brewery unionized, did you guys hear about that?” John said.

Alex replied, “Yeah, I heard they were getting dicked over by the shop manager.  Being forced to work mandatory overtime, and the safety systems weren’t getting the maintenance they needed.”

Cedric chimed in, “I heard someone lost a fucking hand from one of the canning machines because the safety guard wasn’t on it!”

“Yeah, that whole incident is what ended up driving everyone to unionize for better pay and better safety.  I’m surprised it took someone losing a hand for people to fight back, but I can’t say I blame them entirely.  People don’t like rocking the boat.” Jamie added.

Then John said it and tension I hadn’t even noticed washed out like a wave.

“We hear you guys talking union over here sometimes– we’re tired of getting screwed by the bosses, can we join?”

“Shhh!  Don’t talk so fuckin’ loud!” Cedric whisper-shouted.

“We’ll talk about this more, in private,” Jamie said and nodded to a guy sitting at the bar.

“Who’s that guy you nodded towards?” I whispered.

“Works for the boss, he’s a union buster” Jamie replied.

“Kneecap buster, too,” Alex muttered under his breath.

“There’s a private room in back that they’ll let us use.  It’s next to the bathrooms.  We’ll continue this conversation there.  Don’t everybody get up at once, filter in over the next 10 minutes or so.” Cedric said quietly before getting up and walking in the direction of the hallway with the bathrooms.

Jamie went next under the guise of checking on Cedric.  Followed shortly by Alex.  Once Alex was clear and had made his way over, John and I went. We made a show out of how drunk John supposedly was, and how I was just helping him to the shitters to throw up.

I watched the union buster out of the corner of my eye while everyone else moved.  He didn’t notice anyone going anywhere until John and I got up, but John actually was drunk so the show we put on got him to quit watching.

Finally we made it to the backroom relatively unhindered.  We stepped in and sat down at a round table in the middle of the room.

There was a deafening silence.  Once again John broke the silence.  I swear he just doesn’t understand when it’s awkward.

“So, we want to talk union.  We’ve had our lunch break taken from us, Bob from payroll let slip that they’re considering mandatory overtime, and frankly I just think our boss is a dickhead who won’t pay us what we’re worth.” John whispered to Cedric.

“I heard we can make more money with better and cheaper benefits, too.” I said.

“You know, normally we have to convince people of all of that, and you two just figured it out, which is a nice change of pace.”  Cedric replied.

Alex jumped in: “What do you guys do at work?  Like, what’re your job titles?”

“I pump magic into the boilers and John carves the runes.  We’re the only ones that do our respective jobs for first shift.”

“This is the exact type of in we’ve been looking for!” Jamie whisper-shouted.

“So how do we wanna do this?” Cedric asked.

“I think we should shut the factory down ASAP, for as long as possible.  If two of us stand guard over the boiler so a replacement for Cyrus can’t make it in, then we win.  I was thinking you and me would be best suited: we do the least essential work so nobody will notice us missing.  Alex can make our demands.”  Jamie said.

“What are we talking about?  I feel like there’s a conversation going on that I should probably be looped in on.” I said.

“Shutting down the factory until our demands are met.  You and John are the only ones in the factory who do what you do.  If you guys strike with us, the whole factory shuts down.”  Cedric replied.

“What are our demands?” John asked.

“Bring back our lunch breaks, equal pay for everyone and a thirty percent raise across the board, backpay for the strike, and a larger winter harvest bonus.” Cedric said.

“When are we doing this?” I asked.

“In three days to give us time to hash out the plan in more detail.  Let’s go for it when we’d normally have lunch though, for sure.”  Cedric replied.

“Now that that’s settled let’s drink!” John declared.  And drink we did.  

Eventually we all stumbled our separate ways, and I ended up crashing at John’s place again.

We had grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner to help sober us up and prevent a hangover.  After we ate, John went to bed and I went to the couch.  We’d talk more about the plan in the morning.