7 Reasons I Support Labor Unions

  1. My father's union job provided my family with the basics: a modest but nice house in a decent school district, health insurance, and paid time off so we could spend time together. Even as a kid, I knew the union was there to help us.
  2. Having worked for two unions, I've seen how many workers address safety problems through collective bargaining, from flight attendants to teachers to nurses. At a recent protest of Ohio's S.B. 5 bill to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees, one firefighter's sign said, "Don't make my job more dangerous than it already is."
  3. I've seen the shenanigans companies pull trying to keep unions out. When I worked for Borders, staff had to watch an anti-union video, and store managers were trained by an expensive union-busting firm. Managers warned other stores in the area if there seemed to be a troublemaker among the staff or customers
  4. In working on human rights issues internationally, I've seen how respect for worker's rights are a barometer for a country's respect for human rights. The right to organize is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a reason.
  5. Unions are a check on unfettered corporate power, something our country needs now even more ever.
  6. When I lived in Europe, I saw what strong union membership means. My friends and colleagues from many countries, including ones outside Europe, were horrified by the level of US poverty, our pathetic family leave policies (worse than in many developing nations), our lack of vacation time, our low minimum wage, and our lack of health insurance. A high level of union membership goes hand in hand with a better standard of living for everyone.

Dr. King said that "the Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery & despair into hope and progress." It's time to protect and re-energize that force. Whether we're union members or not, we need take action for our country's union workers.

  1. gravatar

    # by Elizabeth - July 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Hi! I'm a bit slow on this, but better late than never, eh?

    I just started work at a place that pays college-educated folks $8.35 an hour. There is a very helpful sign in the back, posted prominently next to the "you have a right not to be sexually harassed" posters. It reads, "YOU HAVE A RIGHT NOT TO JOIN A UNION! YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KEEP ALL YOUR WAGES." Jeez.....reminds me of something recently mentioned on Echidne's blog (google Echidne of the Snakes). Basically, some politician mentioned that, since we read Miranda rights to criminals, we should also tell women seeking abortions that they have a right to carry their child. What?

    Also, yes, having lived in Europe (including socialist Scandinavia), it's a red-faced embarrassment that we treat real human beings (you may know them as "employees") worse than the corporate citizens that employ them. Insane.