So far my travels as UWUA president have taken me from very small locals where a handful of our members provide vital services to their own communities, to large locals with thousands of members, as well as others of various sizes, with more to come.
I’ve had numerous conversations that have sparked my interest in trying to answer the question, where are we going? Not just as a union, but as a country.
Where is the care and concern for workers? What’s the next step for our members whose jobs are threatened by the decarbonization of the economy? What is the future of the middle class that workers, organizing together into unions, built?
Sound the alarm
Despite a growing economy and low unemployment, those with only a high school diploma are being left out. This is especially true for the 94% of workers in the private sector who are not represented by a union.
The growing inequality between those with a college degree and those without, has fed what is now called “deaths of despair” from suicide, drug overdoses and alcoholism. This has contributed to falling life expectancy in our country for three out of the last four years.
Those who sit in corporate boardrooms have directed the half-century of successful attacks on workers and their unions. That is how we have arrived at where we are today.
When will it be our time again, a time when workers are respected and those who represent them are supported, both in government and in boardrooms?
I’m here to tell you that our time is now! The crisis our country faces from the corporate control of government and commerce has gotten so deep that even some influential businessmen are waking up to sound the alarm.
The Business Roundtable, representing the chief executive officers of America’s leading companies, issued a “Statement of Purpose” last August signed by 181 CEOs who committed to leading their companies “for the benefit of all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.” This is a major shift for the Business Roundtable, which, for the past half-century practiced and promoted principles and policies that put shareholders first, with little regard for workers and their communities.
We have reached the point where we’re in a struggle, politically, socially and economically for the future of our great country. This election year we need to have a serious conversation with ourselves and our loved ones, in our communities and in our society, as to how to make a level playing field for all Americans, not just the wealthy.
Support the PRO Act
One way to level the playing field is to support the Protecting The Right To Organize (PRO) Act. In early February, the AFL-CIO succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to pass the PRO Act, the most comprehensive pro-worker labor law reform in decades. The legislation would make it easier for workers to organize and would undo most of the pro-business anti-worker barriers to joining unions going all the way back to the original National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
Now we need to get all of our U.S. senators on board supporting the PRO Act and have the president sign it. Support for the PRO Act is the litmus test for gaining the support of the UWUA and all of labor. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you’re either with us, or you’re against us.
It’s time to get serious. It’s time to get engaged with your local leadership in collective bargaining, organizing and political action. It’s time to find your point of entry and get to work. Only the present has potential!