Feb 5, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 711: Beetle Bailey #80, March 1971

https://www.comics.org/issue/169268/

In a very similar way to Archie comics, I find Beetle Bailey to be one of those relatively reliable comics. It's only very occasionally, if ever, going to be a revelatory experience to read, but most of the time it's funny, well rendered, and worth 20 - 30 minutes of your time. This was the reaction I had to today's comic.

Until I got to a text feature just before the final story, entitled "The UFF." I had a quick look through, and it turned out to be a small manifesto for the "Union of Fighting Forces," an attempt to unionize the American military. At first, understandably, I thought it was a joke. But it turns out that in the late 60s and early 70s, there were a number of people agitating for exactly this in the military. And why not, I suppose? It's a job, just like any other, so if those doing the job feel like they're being treated unfairly, of course they should unionize. It does seem to go directly against everything I know about how a military organization works, but that doesn't mean it can't work.

I found a few references to various attempts at this, and there was apparently an unrecognized (at least by the superiors) union in the army in the period this comic came out. They published their own newspaper, and were involved in some demonstrations for fair treatment of soldiers.

Who knew?

To be continued.

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