Never Underestimate the Collective Power of Working People

Liz Shuler

Liz Shuler Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

Working people accepted the challenge of Janus v. AFSCME and used this test to reignite our solidarity and prove that we are stronger than any corporation, politician or high court. It takes more than a court case to tear down a century and a half of grit and gumption. 

Together, union members from communities across the country reclaimed our power and redefined this past year with a historic movement of collective action.

Teachers captured the country's attention, walking off the job for the fair treatment they deserve in states where collective bargaining is illegal. Workers at Marriott hotels in eight major cities across the country won groundbreaking protections against harassment and assault and a voice in how technology impacts their work. Grocery store employees throughout New England won better wages and respect after a massive strike that garnered support from workers and communities across America. Now, airline catering workers voted to authorize a strike and demand that “One Job Should Be Enough.”

But, it’s not just union members calling for a fair return on work.

This week, Wayfair employees embraced the power of collective action when they walked out of their workplace to protest the immoral abuse of migrants in detention centers at the border. 

Google workers worldwide staged massive protests last fall, demanding an end to workplace harassment. 

And, video game developers are joining together to fight for a voice at work.  

Working people from every corner of the country are ready to experience the transformational power that comes with a union card. With the labor movement’s popularity at its highest point in more than 15 years, research from MIT shows that half of Americanswould join a union today if they could. 

For too long, rugged individualism was the false narrative sold to generations of Americans. At the same time, corporate interests chipped away at our most fundamental rights and freedoms. The result we’re seeing today is a concentration of wealth and power for the 1% that shocks the conscience and threatens the democratic system we have come to rely on. 

But, the labor movement is refusing to settle for the false promises and comfortable confines of the status quo. We’re being bold. We’re taking risks. We’re helping to rewrite the American story. 

We’re standing together and fighting for the change we need. We’re debating and defining the future of work with life-changing contracts and through cutting-edge training and education that helps working people advance to better jobs and fulfilling careers. 

After all, we built the middle-class, won retirement security, created safe workplaces and determined what a fair economy could and should look like. That’s why the labor movement continues to be the most powerful force for working families. 

Our mission now, and in the years to come, is to convert today’s historic levels of collective action into resurgent collective bargaining, so we can build a fairer, stronger and more upwardly mobile America. 

There are signs of progress far and wide, and we are ready to give this moment everything we have. 

The Supreme Court didn’t deliver the labor movement’s eulogy. It sparked our triumphant rise, and we’re only getting started.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work