My Family Is Blue Collar

Pop and his brothers and sisters came with their parents from Calabria in southern Italy.

In the first decades of the 1900s, they settled in Pittston, in between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, in the hard coal fields in Pennsylvania. They went to work in the mines, dress factories, in construction and the railroad yards.

Pop became a breaker boy at age 11 and stayed in the mines 40-plus more years, leaving only when the Susquehanna River burst into the dark tunnels killing 12 of his buddies.

Pennsylvania had a black lung pension law enacted by a Democratic legislature that believed the men who put their lives on the line deserved some economic protection. Pop died of black lung at age 74.

No one in the family thought of college until uncle Fred, my namesake, got out of high school and joined the Marines in the Pacific in World War II. He went to college on the GI Bill, another Democratic initiative.

Pop and Uncle Fred would have been amazed and angry at the fact that blue collar workers
are likely to vote heavily for the Republican ticket.

I can hear Pop now: "The crazy bastards, don't they read the papers? Don't they know how they're being conned?"

Pop read the papers... it was his daily education.

He would have known that Romney and Republicans refuse to extend the middle class tax cut until the cut for the wealthiest Americans is also extended. He would have instinctively known that working people have been seriously hurt by Republican policies in the last three decades.

Pop would have seen through Republican subtle appeals to racism to convince working people to support a Republican agenda that helped the rich at the expense of working people.

I like to think Pop and his siblings know how the great Democrats of his era -- FDR, JFK -- helped.

Our family and millions of others achieve the American dream.