Connie Mabin Talks the Next Generation of Labor on The Leslie Marshall Show

USW's Connie Mabin, director of the Next Generation program, talked about the union's young worker initiative and the future of labor on The Leslie Marshall Show this week.

Mabin, who also leads the union's digital platforms, said the Next Gen program, which focuses on engaging and empowering younger USW members, was launched partly out of leaders finding that many new workers are less likely to have a strong union background. Many are college graduates saddled with student loan debt whose parents lost their jobs during the 2008 recession.

"It was a very intentional effort to reintroduce the union to a whole new generation and to do what we've always done," Mabin said, "which is bringing up those who come up behind us and to get them to bring up those behind them."

Diversity -- of race, gender, sector and more -- is also something that the next generation brings to the table. Mabin said the Steelworkers no longer represent only manufacturing workers because the workforce is evolving; labor, as a result, has evolved with it.

"If you have a job, a union is for you."

Just two weeks ago, in Pittsburgh, more than 900 young USW activists from across the U.S. and Canada gathered for the inaugural Next Generation Conference, a week of education and inspiration.

Aside from enjoying a wide array of workshops and guest speakers, attendees also volunteered at multiple nonprofits throughout the city on the final day, as community service is a core tenet of the program.

"It helps young people realize how important it is to give back," said Mabin.

The third-generation Steelworker noted that young workers face unique challenges their parents escaped, in large part due to an onslaught of attacks from anti-union legislation and greedy CEOs.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Mabin said Millennials and other younger workers recognize labor as a potential partner in tackling things like environmental degradation, corporate greed, and more.

A new study even revealed that they embrace unions at higher rates than ever before.

"They understand the power of collective action. They know how to communicate," she said. "You combine that with the power of a union, can you imagine the possibilities?" 

 

To listen to the conversation, click here.

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