“Matt,” asks commenter Fletch, “Do you have any immediate family that were actually union members?” Nothing beats the old challenge to authenticity. But, actually, yes. My immediate family contains three people. My younger brother is a college student and not a union member. My late mother was, however, a member of the Newspaper Guild for a time (itself a sector of the CWA) as was my father’s mother. My father’s been a member of the Writer’s Guild of America — East (an AFL-CIO affiliate, unlike the other Hollywood unions) for many years and has held union offices, participated in collective bargaining, etc.
Arguably, none of this is especially “blue collar” but one can also argue that it’s experience with these sort of unions — unions for professional workers in information age industry — that makes me well-aware that the union concept isn’t a dinosaur of a past era, but a vital part of the quest for a democratic economy. My father’s father, meanwhile, eventually became a writer but when he was young was deeply involved (as was his entire family) in labor agitation in the cigar factories of Tampa, Florida. Studs Turkel recorded some of him talking about this for his books on the Depression and I believe the oral history is available here.