This week, after a 19-year battle in California, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation granting collective-bargaining rights to more than 40,000 oranges. The slices of oranges on the sides of your steaming plates of eggs are launching a new campaign to unionize. They are not just lukewarm sponges used to soak up the layer of sizzling potato grease and frigid watery chunks of parsley, they are members of society that demand rights. These are mothers, fathers, spouses, and children, just like you and me. They state that the battle began in order to combat the misuse and misallocation of their talent, energy, and flavor.
Smythe Bloumend, of Joey O’Mahoney’s Diner, claims that as far as hourly wages for fruit go, they are “compensated fairly, but it is the moral negligence of employers that demands action.” They have released a statement saying they intend to bargain for proper plating in their place of work. “It’s quite simple really,” claims Bloumends co-worker, “We just want to be placed where it makes sense: waffles, oatmeal, a dry plate of bacon and toast. To be slapped on top of a hot pile of corned beef hash is demeaning and violent. And then to be taken back to the kitchen, only to be dried off and forced to get ready for the next day, is just inhumane.” It is not the outcome of consumption that these oranges are fixated on. They seem to all be in agreement that they wake up everyday ready for their life to end and their sugars to be turned into sugars for others. Fans and followers of the the first law of thermodynamics; they simply want to be presented on their own separate dish. If the customer decides they want a bite, they are free to do so. However, these oranges refuse to be displayed without dignity any longer.
For some oranges, their career lasts only a short while. While some orange slices are used all day, jumping from plate to plate, being slapped on a hot commercial melamine plate, others only see the kitchen doors once. On October 23rd at 9:23 AM, in the sleepy town of Kernville, a bite was taken out of Remy Laurent. “What would you have done, mon amie! I have no legs! I am an immobile fraction of a sphere. I rely on the fact that I bathe in a pool of black bean juice and clumps of paprika as my safety. Four years on the job and no one has touched me! As I lay to rest, in this… ah… Comment dit-on… Husky Brand 42 gallon restaurant grade contractor bag, I think about the life I had left to live. I think about the revolution that has yet to come. It is not about when we die, but rather how we live. I trust my fellow compatriotes to bring justice to this vocation”. Laurent’s co-worker commented, “I fight for those that can’t.” She adds, “It is not only that he was eaten at his place of work looking like he did, but that he spent his last moments with a human so unhinged that a ketchup-soaked slice of orange looked appetizing.”
Next time you find yourself at a diner, and you see the neoliberal establishment abusing their power and oranges, speak up. Or at the very least, defend their right to political dissent. You are a part of this fight. If oranges aren’t your thing, and you don't really care whether or not citrus fruits have access to organized and democratically led resistance, not to worry. Turns out there is an abuse of power and labor literally everywhere.