Five Ways Unions Are Helping You Right Now… Even If You’re Not a Member
A workers’ rights case before the Supreme Court this week could have a dramatic impact on all of our lives. Janus v. AFSCME is a case that is designed to dramatically reduce dues and starve unions that are representing workers at the bargaining table. The Janus case is being pushed by some big corporations and CEOs as part of their well-funded attacks against collective bargaining. And, if the lower court ruling is overturned by the Supreme Court, it could have huge implications for your future… even if you’re not a union member.
Unions help us all. For example:
1The gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is larger than it has ever been in the U.S. Unions are one of the few tools that workers have to combat this continued effort to keep wages stagnant or lower them.
It’s no surprise that as attacks on unions have ramped up and union membership has declined that the income gap has risen dramatically.
2. Wages in “right-to-work” states where businesses and politicians have colluded to weaken unions are 3.1 percent lower than in states that don’t limit collective bargaining. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,
“The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.”
3. Unions are working to help all of us. By working together with allies to fight climate change, racism, and other societal challenges, unions bring real political power to bear in the fight for a stronger, fairer, more prosperous economy and cleaner environment. American unions and unions from around the world were vital pushing for an international climate agreement and though the Trump administration has backed away, the Paris Climate Accord is a huge step forward for the nations that are upholding it.
4. Union workers are better trained and unions promote and conduct training programs to ensure their workers — and the communities around their workplaces — are safer and healthier. In addition, when they see something dangerous or wrong happening at their workplace, they can speak out knowing that the union has their back.
5. Unions bargain for more than just wages and benefits in their contracts. Many contacts include protections and safeguards that go beyond what the law does in protecting workers from injuries and communities from the effects of workplace accidents. For example, in Philadelphia a teacher’s union contract had a provision to test the school water system for lead. It also prevented class-size increases for students and ensured that every school covered under the contract had at least one school nurse and counselor.
Taking away the voice of working people is wrong and if we aren’t able to stand together, we will surely fall apart separately. Unions protect all of us. They promote better wages, benefits, and workplace protections that impact the labor market as a whole, not only union members.
If you want to help and show support in the fight to keep unions strong and to protect the rights of workers to collectively bargain, join thousands of workers at rallies planned across the country today. Find out more and sign up for the February 26 We Rise events.