I've heard that this derived from the expression to "push a button" on someone, but I don't buy it. Pushing a button is not something somebody handling a gun would do or say, is it?
I remember being told that casual work in places like docks and factories was allocated by workers waiting in line, and a select few being given counters or buttons by a union official. There is a scene showing this process in the movie "On The Waterfront" I think.
I remember an old Dublin man telling me that when he was young, regular workers would be given a button which they would sew onto their work clothes like a badge, showing that they were members of the union. This would entitle them to first call on any work available, and improve their status among other casual workers. I wonder if the mafia usage comes from this source, or is connected with it.
126.96.36.199 01:45, 14 November 2010 (UTC)