YOUNG WORKERS: What’s Really at Stake in November

Reggie Davis, Chair, Young Workers’ Initiative Committee

Brothers and Sisters, the importance and urgency outlined in the previous Young Workers Initiative Committee (YWIC) article regarding the need to vote, and to vote our interests has been greatly illuminated by recent current events. The stakes for the 2022 mid-term elections could not be higher. The outcome will no doubt go a long way in determining the future of democracy. Years and years of progress in voting rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights, and human rights are slowly being rolled back. We must use the power of the ballot box to ensure that we protect the rights of every American.

We must vote as if all the benefits that have allowed us to provide for our families and improve the quality of their lives are at stake.

In 1870, Congress passed the 15th Amendment, which stated that voting rights could not be “denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” In 1920 women got the right to vote. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed. We have come to depend on the sanctity and finality of these settled laws. However, the Supreme Court now appears poised to set aside decades of precedent and overturn the landmark decision in Roe. v. Wade. As unimaginable as it may seem, these progressive laws and many others that helped make this country into the gold standard for democracy can no longer be considered off limits as they too could one day be overturned. This includes the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

The passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 was a pivotal moment in the fight for workers’ rights. It is the foundation and authority for workers’ rights in this country —especially the right to collectively bargain, which has produced many gains that have improved the quality of life for union members. The ultimate goal of the YWIC is to proactively protect and promote these rights for our members. This is why we are laser-focused on the upcoming mid-term elections.

It has become clear that we cannot take our rights for granted. We must do all we can to ensure their continued and consistent progress. This means voting for candidates who support worker’s rights. It means supporting candidates who will champion issues that are in our best interests. If we have learned anything from recent events, it is that nothing should be taken for granted simply because it has been in place for decades. We must realize that it is within the realm of possibility that the rights and protections of the National Labor Relations Act can be rolled back, negating decades of progress.

It is tempting to believe that the right to organize, and workers’ rights in general are not in imminent danger of disappearing. But remember, even with the existence of the NLRB, our rights are under constant attack. Corporations are enjoying record profits due in large part to the efforts of workers while simultaneously opposing their right to organize. Although there has been a recent upswing in positive union sentiment, union density is still nowhere near its peak of 35% in the 1950’s. The point is we cannot become complacent. There are far too few workers enjoying the benefits of a union which places a bigger target on those that are.

Therefore, we must prioritize our interests and vote accordingly. We must vote as if all the benefits that have allowed us to provide for our families and improve the quality of their lives are at stake.  We must recognize the urgency of the moment and be proactive rather than reactive.

We hope that you will join us this November and vote for the candidates who best represent the interests of workers. We will do our best in the coming months to provide accurate and impartial information so that we can all make informed, responsible decisions.