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.

***

Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work