Executive Vice President’s Report, Fall 2016

Staying Focused on Our Goals

Steven VanSlooten, UWUA Executive Vice President

Steven VanSlooten
UWUA Executive Vice President

With the election behind us, now is the time for the country as a whole, and UWUA members in particular, to come together to heal whatever wounds were caused by the most contentious presidential campaign in our lifetime.

No matter how we voted and what our beliefs are, we all need to be tolerant of each other, respect the way people voted, and unite around those things that bring us together.

The goals of our union are clear: defending and improving the quality of life generations of UWUA members have fought for and won; protecting the gains we have made in the workplace by negotiating and enforcing our collective bargaining agreements; organizing new members to enjoy the benefits of a UWUA contract; and serving our communities.

Internal organizing a must

Organizing within each of our bargaining units is one of the most important tasks to achieve at our places of work.

This is key because, no matter if you supported Trump or not in the election, there are some things his administration, the Republican controlled Congress and the Supreme Court are going to do that will go against your interests and the goals of your union.

The Republican Party platform lays out the desire to take away the rights of workers to join together in unions to represent and defend themselves against the actions of their employers. And, Trump’s appointments so far reflect these goals.

The Republican Party platform lays out the desire to take away the rights of workers to join together in unions to represent and defend themselves against the actions of their employers. And, Trump’s appointments so far reflect these goals.

New organizing opportunities

uwuamag_fall2016_execvp-quoteTo defend the way of life that our members fought so hard for, we must help others organize. That means looking for new areas to expand our membership and becoming a bigger player in the industries we represent.

You can help organize new members by talking to people employed by your company who do not have union representation. You can also talk to people you know who do the same kind of work you do, but don’t have a union. Let people know what it means to be a member of a union.

For decades, workers and their unions have been targets of a relentless attack by corporate America and their media.

For decades, workers and their unions have been targets of a relentless attack by corporate America and their media. This has resulted in unionization rates of only 6.7% in the private sector, 35.2% in the public sector, or 11.1% overall, enjoying the benefits of union representation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a substantial decrease from a few decades ago.

More than anything else, this explains the dire straights American workers/middle class find themselves in today. Unions built the middle class. Without them there would be no middle class. If President-elect Trump is to live up to his promises to American workers, he will need to support their organizations – unions – not work to weaken them.

Strength in numbers

What it comes down to is there is strength in numbers. That’s why we want to get more people to be active in their union and get those who do not have union representation to join the union family.

There are real reasons to be optimistic about the future of organized labor.

In Gallup’s latest national poll, August 2016, 56% of Americans now support labor unions. That’s almost six out of every 10 Americans. Pew Research Center’s most recent poll on the subject also shows support for unions is growing.

Importantly, Pew found there is more support for unions among young people from both the Republican and Democratic parties than there is among older Americans from both parties. People ages 18-29 view unions favorably by a margin of 55%. And among women, approval of labor unions is 63%.

Let’s get out there and help them organize to enjoy the unalienable rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The growing support for unions can be explained by the fact that, since the decline of unions, the economy has failed to deliver real benefits to most working people. Working people see the connection between unions and their economic well-being. Americans want unions. Let’s get out there and help them organize to enjoy the unalienable rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.