Unions are important to the working class and here’s why. We do not work for ourselves or for one another; we work for our employers who organize the workplaces so that we (the worker) cannot exert control by our actions. We do not work for the fun of it. We work because we need to, to survive, to pay our bills and to support our families.
In our nation, the ability to access money is life or death matter and the employers will exploit that to their benefit. They will objectify us, so that they can make more money. All they care about is their bottom line (profits). (Michael D. Yates, Why Unions Matter, Monthly Review Press New York. 1998)
We need unions because of the decline of the middle class, which began, with the decline of union membership according to a 2011 study in the American Sociological Review by Bruce Western of Harvard University and Jake Rosenfeld of the University of Washington. This is seen every day, as more Americans are working in low-wage jobs and little to no benefits. (Politico)
Legally, without unions, workers are just “at-will” employees. This means that they can be fired, demoted, or transferred for any reason and sometimes without a reason. Without unions, the employers are free to treat us as they wish, which includes cutting our pay and even eliminating our benefits.
Currently many of our workplaces are factories of authoritarianism destroying our democracy. This authoritarianism diminishes our standing as a democracy in the world. This is why workers who spend 8 or more hours a day obeying their employers demands with no rights, or to participate in workplace decisions that affect them, do not participate in most of our civil society outside of the workplace because of being trained to just obey. Basically, the rule of most workplaces is that the management dictates and the workers obey or they are fired. Because of authoritarianism in the workplace, workers have no right to freedom of speech, which is one of our nation’s most cherished freedoms. Nevertheless, that freedom is not granted in the workplaces because the United State Constitution’s First Amendment only applies to the encroachment by the government on the citizens’ speech not private employers. Thus, the employers teach the workers every day that democracy and their civil rights stop at the factory, store, or office door. (Why Unions Matter, Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Harvard Trade Union Program)
Unions are our tool to secure better wages and benefits, safer working environments, right to fair hearing for complaints against the employer, and give us a voice. Unions give us the ability to take action against employers when the employer violates their rights or discriminates against us. Simply, the union gives us a voice in our workplaces and makes us more equal with the employers.
This is why I support unions and why I believe that unions are vital to the betterment of the United States and will assist in ending economic injustice in our great nation. Not only will unions help but so will a fair minimum wage. I support HR. 1010, the Fair Minimum Wage Act. I understand that this bill will not fix our nation’s labor laws to insurance union rights but I believe is a major step that our government can take to help the working class. I believe that the our Congress should pass a bill giving every worker the right to paid sick and holiday. These are just a couple of the steps that Congress can take to help the working class. However, there is one step that each individual can take to help better their lives and their employment environments, they can join a union or begin to organize their own places of work.
The Fair Minimum Wage would:
- Restore the minimum wage to its historic level, making up for decades of erosion.
- Would increase the minimum wage to $10.
How a Fair Minimum Wage would Affect us:
- 30 million workers would receive a raise.
- 88% of those are adults over the age of twenty, 56% are women, nearly half are workers of color, and over 43% have some college education.
- 17 million children have a parent who would get a raise.
- 71% of tipped workers getting a raise would be women. (ForwardEquality)
The following are some of the unions that I personally support:
- AFL-CIO: “We are the umbrella federation for U.S. unions, with 57 unions representing more than 12 million working men and women. We work to ensure that all people who work receive the rewards of their work—decent paychecks and benefits, safe jobs, respect and fair treatment. “
- NEA (National Education Association): ” the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA’s 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs.”
- SEIU (Service Employees International Union): “an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.”
- AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees): “AFSCME is the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members. AFSCME’s members provide the vital services that make America happen. We are nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers and more. With members in hundreds of different occupations, AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.”
- IWW (Industrial Workers of the World): “The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.”
Contact Congress and tell them to pass a Fair Minimum Wage: Contact Info
*Some information was from Think Progress.