Buried deep in the New York Times metropolitan section on November 6, 1998, was an article I had been awaiting far too long: “7-Month Labor Dispute Is Over at 8 Jewish Cemeteries in Area.” I had been watching one group of sullen gravediggers outside Mt. Hebron Cemetery. They were locked out and miserable. From time to time I stopped my car and got out to chat with them for a few minutes before my class at nearby Queens College. Summer had ended. At Mt. Hebron’s gates the men stamped their feet against the cold and breathed jets of coffee steam across their paper cups. Each time I stopped, Sammy Acevedo, their shop steward, had a hopeful word or two with me in front of the men: yes, negotiations were progressing. Soon they wo...
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