Why We Need Strong Unions

It has been a long time since the general public has heard about the benefits of unions. If we read or hear anything from the corporate media today it is usually about “corrupt” unions “driving up prices,” “taking” dues from wages or “causing companies to leave” the state or country. And who would expect a corporate-controlled media to ever say anything good about unions or bad about corporate rule!
Have you heard the saying, “The labor movement – the people who brought you the weekend?” Think about that seriously for a minute. The reason we have weekends off, vacations (such as we do have them), an 8-hour workday, sick leave, child labor laws and so much more is because people organized into unions and demanded those things.
Do you know why manufacturing jobs have “traditionally” paid good wages? The reason is because unions organized the manufacturing industry.
In fact, unions are the reason we have a middle class in America.
Do you know why unions were formed? Before there were unions wages, working hours, worker safety rules, worker rights and general working conditions were terrible. This is because there is a huge imbalance in our economic system. Corporations have the ability to organize huge amounts of money and resources as well as to influence the government. But individuals are on their own. And in the 19th and early 20th century a very few people used the power and influence of corporations to perpetuate a system that enabled them to collect most of the proceeds of the industrial revolution and the work of millions largely for themselves, sharing very little with the regular people of the country. So to counter the power and influence of the big companies workers learned that they needed to organize themselves to help each other. And so the labor movement was born.
The unions were able to bring millions of regular people together to fight back against the consolidated power of corporations. Slowly over time working conditions, wages, etc. improved. And through this organized effort the government became more responsive to regular people as well.
But the owners of the corporations fought back. In the late 1960s and early 1970s a corporate-sponsored conservative political movement was organized. They used modern marketing techniques to influence people and persuade them to yield more and more power back to the corporations. In the decades since they have been able to largely take over the government and to wear down the unions to a fraction of what they were.
And we can all see the results. When unions were strong people had retirement pensions and health insurance and good wages they could count on. When unions were strong our government was much more responsive to the will of the people not the corporations.
Why can you do about this? You can join a union and start to fight back!
Why should you join a union? I’ve been looking around online for info and arguments to help make the case, and here is a compilation of some of them. (Each link means the info following it is from a different website. Click through the links for more.)
Cause trouble where you work – print this out and stick it on bulletin boards around the workplace when no one is looking.
Union Workers Have Better Health Care and Pensions
Union workers are more likely than their nonunion counterparts to covered by health care and receive pension benefits, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March 2007, 78 percent of union workers in the private sector had jobs with employer-provided health insurance, compared with only 49 percent of nonunion workers. Union workers also are more likely to have retirement and short-term disability benefits.
Dignity: The presence of a union means employees must be treated fairly by their employer, and that you have a voice and vote in important decisions that effect you.
Power: An employee has little power and almost no way to improve wages, benefits, or working conditions. Collective Bargaining balances the power that an employer has over its employees even in a “Team” or high performance work environment.
Protection: Without a union there is no due process at work. Unions provide a grievance & arbitration procedure which ensures fairness for all employees.
Here are five good reasons to join your co-workers in uniting to form a union:
# 1 – Working together, union members have the strength to win better wages, affordable health care, a secure retirement, and safer workplaces.
# 2 – The “union advantage” is substantial. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, union members are much more likely to have health benefits and pensions.
# 3 – For people of color and women workers, the union impact is even greater. Women workers who are union members earn nearly $9,000 a year more than their non-union counterparts. For African-American workers, the union differential is also about $9,000, and for Latino workers the yearly advantage is more than $11,000.
# 4 – In addition to helping workers win better wages and benefits, unions help all workers by giving working families a stronger voice in our communities, in the political arena, and in the global economy.
# 5 – By joining together, we can build the strength to hold elected officials accountable, stop the “race to the bottom” by employers who cut wages and benefits in favor of bigger profits, and win improvements such as affordable, quality health care for all.
Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. While only 14 percent of nonunion workers have guaranteed pensions, fully 68 percent of union workers do. More than 97 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 85 percent of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce–where workers have a say in improving their jobs.
Unions are making a difference. With most of the economic benefits of our economy going to corporate America, working people are using the power of collective action to get their fair share.
Workers never got anything without uniting for it.
* The 40-hour workweek
* The 8-hour workday
* Overtime
* Sick Leave
* Paid Vacation
* Employer-paid health insurance
* Pensions
* Safety and health protections
* Grievance procedure for wrongful discharge and discipline
* Fairness in promotions
* Higher wages
Just think of what you and your coworkers may be able to win if you had a union contract.
And, finally, it’s time for the wealthiest to share the pie: Income for the Wealthiest Is off the Charts.