I've known my friend, Andrea Dolan Potter since before high-school. These days, she works over at The Progressive and lives in Wisconsin. We somehow still manage to get together on occasion despite moving in vastly different circles.

I owe Andrea Dolan Potter an apology.

I laughed at her tales of the ongoing battle with "The General," clearly a large rodent of superior wit, and military strategy, all the while thankful that I don't live in Wisconsin where there are woodchucks.

No, I don't live in Wisconsin. I don't get to rail at governor Scott Walker's Koch Industries-funded antics (except from afar), and I'm apparently missing out on some awesome hamburgers. One takes the bad with the good, or so I thought.

I hadn't reckoned with the collective might of the Amalgamated Union of Sciuridae and Other Small Rodentia. You see, the city of Bremerton is home to a naval ship repair facility, and our largest employer, the United States Navy, has developed over the years, a strong preference for dealing with union shops when hiring outside contractors. My neighborhood is home to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 282 and has been for years. They're right across the street from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. That should give you a small notion of the character of the neighborhood.

What I figure is that decades of union organizing taking place mere blocks from my home here, has taken a firm root in the tiny minds of the local squirrel population. Yes, even the squirrels have a union.

This is something I wasn't immediately aware of. Sure I noticed that several of my neighbors are feeding the squirrels. Yes, I noticed that the local cat population leaves the squirrels alone. But I hadn't connected the dots.

However, I did notice when at the end of the season, a squirrel took the last cucumber from my garden. He didn't just take the cucumber. He came to my back window and attracted my attention first, so that I got up just in time to SEE him take it, as if to say "Just taking what you owe me."

Just a hint that the local squirrel population demands respect. No indication that they're organized or anything.

Then the cold weather came, and it was apparent that my crawlspace wasn't insulated. It also became apparent that something was getting INTO the crawlspace.

Because there are discounts and rebates... well, despite my inability to afford these things myself, this house doesn't actually belong to me. It belongs to my parents. And so they arranged to clean the crawlspace, seal it against intruding rodents, insulate it, and so forth. The deed was done that very week.

The following day, it became clear that I have violated an accord I was heretofore unaware of, and that the squirrels have a union. The deputation from the Amalgamated Union of Sciuridae and Other Small Rodentia was on my doorstep, wanting me to know that my crawlspace was their union hall, and that I had no right to lock them out of it.

They were demanding reparations.