X Spot
Copyright 2007 ©

As trans-galactic commerce expanded in the days of the Ancients the crews of the smaller vessels, in an effort to establish uniform pay scales and codes of conduct, formed unions to protect them from the myriad of transport companies that existed at the time.  Those early groups coalesced mostly by job and species; most spacers in those days were Apsu who never settled on a particular world.  Other species stuck to their own until long after the Ancients had departed.  The largest and most powerful of the unions was then, and continues to be the Gafflers union.  Every transport ship in the galaxy has gafflers, a group of people whose job it is to move cargo on and off the ship; named for the expandable, temporary portal used to bridge two ships, called the gaffle.   The job of a gaffler in those early days was deadly, and the primary reason for the formation of the union was to ensure that a dead gaffler’s family would receive what ever pay he had earned.  Despite standardization, gaffles frequently failed when one ship began to drift away from another, breaking the link and sucking any gafflers in the cargo area to into vacuum. Due to the high risk, the pay was high, but Transport companies used a gafflers death as an out on his pay. 

The gafflers union was a major force in improving gaffle units and payments to next of kin.  But over the decades, after those initial improvements the union began to morph into an independent body, not responsive to the transport companies, or even to its gaffler membership.  As other races began to get involved in commerce, and larger companies like Co’ir and Crimson Quill offered higher pay to non-union gafflers their strength began to wane.  They would in time turn to hiring independent spacers to harass the non-union carries, sacking their ships and stealing their cargo to be resold on other worlds and space stations.  It wasn’t long before those independent spacers, realized that their pirate for hire jobs would be much more profitable if they by passed the Union and sacked ships on their own, then kept the booty for themselves.  This was the beginning of the age of the space pirates that would terrorize the Bythos for hundreds of years.  With fewer and fewer independent ships able to compete with the larger transport outfits, more spacers turned to pirating, or transporting pirated goods to uncivilized space where the larger companies didn’t travel.  Former union members would turn to pirating, not for better pay, you could always earn more working for Crimson Quill or Co’ir, but for the thrill of the attack.  The long dull voyages from one system to another could wear on a crew of gafflers with little to do between stops, but for the pirates any day could bring adventure as they wandered about attacking ships where ever they could find them. 

The Gafflers union, while ostensibly obsolete, continues to exist though most of its membership are terin based workers in space ports across the galaxy that never travel the stars.  Despite their diminished role, the union can still bring a halt to commerce on a planet by calling a strike of its members, leaving goods stacked at port in the bottle neck between transport and market.  As such, the union holds great sway with governments across the galaxy, and in some instances still maintains connections with the pirates they help to create.

Gaffler's Union

The backbone of space travel

C Spot